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THE ROAD CHOSEN: The Story of Lem Wong
Immigration History
Legacy:

By 1993 about 700,000 people of Chinese ancestry were living in Canada. Much of the later immigration was from Hong Kong. From 1983 to 1993, 166,487 Hong Kong immigrants settled in Canada(13), perhaps in anticipation of the island's return to Chinese control in 1997, after being a British colony for over a century.

Since 1900 most Chinese immigrants have settled in urban centres. Over 68 per cent of Chinese Canadians currently live in Toronto and Vancouver(14).

Through to the 1980's, Chinese Canadians were mainly employed in the service industries. But by the 1990's they were branching out into many fields, including the arts, journalism, politics; professions such as law and medicine, as well as traditional careers in education, science and business(15).

One of the greatest contributions of Chinese immigrants to Canada has been investment in the Canadian economy. One of the major investors has been Li Ka- shing, who bought Husky Oil and Gas in Alberta in 1987 and the Expo '86 lands for development as Pacific Place in Vancouver in 1988. Both his sons, Richard and Victor, are Canadian citizens(16).

Lem Wong's sons, Bill, George and Norman, served in WWII and wore their Canadian uniforms proudly. China and Canada, along with the United States and Britain, had become wartime allies against Japan. And the service of Chinese Canadians went a long way in changing the nativistic sentiments of many Canadians. Suddenly the faces of Chinese Canadians were those of heros.

In 1945, Chinese Canadians who had fought for Canada in either World War were given the right to vote, two years before the rest of their community(17).In 1947 all Chinese Canadians received the right to vote and the anti-Chinese immigration law of 1923 was finally repealed. After the war, Canadian attitudes were changing.(18). For Lem Wong, the humiliations that had been meted out to Chinese Canadians of his generation never seemed to make him bitter. He persevered with a heightened sense of principle. The legacy he left his children was that it didn't really matter whether something was Chinese or Western. What mattered to him was what was right or wrong. As Lem himself used to say, "You should only take the best of both worlds."

ENDNOTES:
13,14,15,16 - The 1998 Canadian & World Encyclopedia
(McClelland & Stewart, Toronto, 1998).

17,18 - Struggle and Hope, The Story of Chinese Canadians
by Paul Yee (Umbrella Press, Toronto, 1996).

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