Work: Yip Sang

Yip Sang

Yip Sang

Third Uncle boasted of his growing bank account over business lunches with the H.Y. Louie and the Yip Sang merchant families. . . Poh-Poh told me how in America some months ago men jumped out of buildings when the value of investments dropped. Third Uncle had even though of killing himself, but Poh-Poh reminded him to think of his new family in Gold Mountain . As a family, Father assured him, we would survive. Third Uncle joined the merchants for their regular luncheon

from All That Matters , p. 73, by Wayson Choy





Born in 1845 in Guangdong (Canton), China, Yip sailed from China to California when he was 19 years old and worked as a dishwasher and a cook. Seventeen years later, he came to Vancouver where he settled in Chinatown in 1881 after first looking for gold in the north, settled in Vancouver and found work as a peddler, selling sacks of coal door to door. In 1882, he was employed by the Canadian Pacific Railroad Supply Company, where he worked as a bookkeeper, timekeeper, paymaster and then as the Chinese superintendent.

After leaving on a short hiatus back to China in 1885, Yip returned to Vancouver three years later and established the import and export firm of Wing Sang Company, which grew to become one of the region's largest import export businesses. Not only did the Wing Sang Company canned goods and lumber throughout the Asia-Pacific region, it also supplied the Canadian Pacific Railway with a large contingent of its labour force. Wing Sang became an important point of contact for correspondence for workers who had family members in China.

Although Yip's fame is mainly in business, he was also a social reformer and political activist in Canada. After becoming naturalized as a British subject in 1891, Yip Sang became one of the driving forces in the establishment of the Chinese Benevolent Association, a number of Chinese school and the Chinese Hospital (now Mount St. Joseph's) in Vancouver. He was a lifetime governor of Vancouver General Hospital, and was also a benefactor of the Public Hospital in Guangdong province in China. He died in 1927.

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