Grace Lee (1905-1990): The Beloved Teacher in Victoria Chinatown
“God is my strength and power; and He maketh my way perfect.”
Affectionately known as “Lok Goo” (Sixth Auntie”) among her students and the Chinatown community, Grace Lee was a missionary to the Chinese Presbyterian Church in Vancouver, British Columbia, teaching kindergarten and Chinese language classes for more than thirty four years since 1931. She was awarded the gold medal for twenty five years of service by the Women Missionary Society in 1956, the first Chinese to be honoured with this kind of medal. She served as the president of the senior women’s auxiliary at the church and organized the young women’s group, which became one of the strongest supporting groups for mission and ministry.
Grace was born in Victoria, British Columbia, to Lee Woy and Lee Mun Shee. Her father came to Victoria in the 1870s and opened up his own businesses, the Lai Yuen store. The family moved back to China when Grace was seven. Initially Grace was home schooled by a private tutor. Later on, a friend who also came from a wealthy family told Grace about a missionary boarding school. His father agreed to let her attend only if Grace would promise not to adopt Christianity as her religion. Grace became a Christian and was baptized. Her father demanded that she gave up her faith and she was expelled from the family. After completing her education at the missionary school, she moved to Canton and Tung Shan and received training in a theological school and taught in China for a number of years. In 1928, she moved back to British Columbia and taught in the Chinese public school in Victoria for three years before being asked by Rev. David Smith to work for the church.
Grace taught almost three thousand children in her thirty four years of teaching. For many years, she worked closely with Ms. Gertude Scott, another missionary appointed by the WMS. Their kindergarten class had an average enrolment of thirty to forty students, ranging from three to six years old. Here is a description of what a typical day of Miss Scott and Miss Lee’s ministry looked like:
We begin with a little song, prayer and a few simple hymns, a Bible story, games, stories activities such as drawing, plasticene, cutting out and pasting, acting out stories, playing with blocks, etc. and before we know it lunch time is close at hand and we must get the children away before the noon traffic becomes too heavy. (An excerpt from the May 1960 Address to the Executive Council Meeting in Toronto. Unpublished handwritten manuscript (by Gertude Scott?). Courtesy of Victoria Chinese Presbyterian Church.)
李維坤宣教師 (1905-1990)：域多利市唐人街深受敬愛的老師 [中譯文]
我們先唱一支小曲，然後禱告和學習幾首簡單的詩歌、聖經故事、再有遊戲、故事以及活動，例如畫畫、橡皮泥、剪貼、故事扮演、砌積木等。轉眼已屆午飯時間，我們必須在中午交通變得太過繁忙之前，把孩子們都送回家。 (節錄自一九六零年五月在多倫多理事會會議中的演講。未經發表的手稿（由Gertude Scott執筆?）。蒙域多利華人長老會允許引述。)
Kemp, Trudie. “Sixth Auntie Honored Today.” Daily Colonist, Feb. 1965, reprinted in the 93rd Anniversary Booklet of the Victoria Chinese Presbyterian Church.
Stewart, Dina. “Miss Lee Looks Back on 34 Years as ‘Lok Goo’ to Local Children.” 1965. Victoria Chinese Presbyterian Church History Clipping Files.
Edna Wong Chow and Rose Lum Oral History.
May 1960 Address to the Executive Council Meeting in Toronto. Unpublished handwritten manuscript (by Gertude Scott?). Courtesy of Victoria Chinese Presbyterian Church.