The Beloved Teacher in Victoria Chinatown: Grace Lee

Carmen Cheng Biography

Grace Lee (1905-1990): The Beloved Teacher in Victoria Chinatown

“God is my strength and power; and He maketh my way perfect.”
Grace Lee

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.;rad

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]



李維坤在域多利市出生。她父親於一八七零年代抵達域多利市,開過幾家店,包括麗園食館。李維坤七歲那年,她父親退休並攜眷搬回南中國。她父親因為恐怕兒女會從其他孩子身上感染壞習,特別聘請私人教師在家教導女兒。後來,一個朋友告訴李維坤有關教會寄宿學校。李維坤得到父親准許報讀該校,條件是要她承諾不會信奉基督教。當她父親得知她成為了基督徒並已接受了水禮時,勃然大怒,逼她退學。因李維坤不肯放棄信仰,結果被逐出家門,回到學校去。畢業後,她先在廣州市,後搬到東山,在神學院接受訓練,隨後在中國教學多年。一九二八年,她回到卑詩省,在域多利市漢文公立學校教書三年後,應David Smith牧師邀請到教會事奉。

李維坤宣教師三十四年的教學生涯中,學生人數多達三千。多年來,她與另一位由婦女宣教聯會差派的宣教師Gertude Scott緊密合作。她們的幼稚園班一般有三、四十名學生,年齡介乎三至六歲不等。以下是Scott老師和李老師日常教學的情景的描述:

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.