Yee Clun 余 坤 羨 [1881-1967] Chinese Settler In Canada | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Yee Clun 余 坤 羨 [1881-1967] Chinese Settler In Canada

Yee Clun 余 坤 羨(1881-1967), Chinese settler in Canada who challenged an unjust law in court. Please visit the following sites for the story about Yee Clun as told by the Canadian researchers and recalled by his daughters.





The second and third Chinese characters are his given name. While the second character is earth or land, I think its right half reveals more. Its left half means land or ground, and the right half is either paddies (noun) or far and wide (adjective). The third character means admirable or pleasing to see. Together, the two translate to wide and beautiful farmland. Discussion and corrections welcome.

Any connection Yee Clun had with Hong Kong would be most likely that, after travelling from inland, he stayed in Hong Kong briefly and left by boat out of the Kowloon Wharf pier. He was well before my time, but had something in common with my grand-father besides having the same family name Yee (余). Both came from the same village in the Taishan/Toishan district now part of the city of Hoi Ping (Cantonese dialect) / Kaiping, the same generation and settled in the same Canadian city.

Yee Clun arrived in Regina, Saskatchewan in 1902. While there, he operated the Exchange Cafe. His courage to challenge an unjust law at that time makes one interesting story.

The researcher and author of this story recorded her interview with Yee Clun’s daughters two years ago. Their visit to the Regina cemetery in 2017 where Ruby the young girl rests was for them an emotion occasion; and for me looking at their family photos got smoke in my eyes. The outdoor family celebration took place at a park at 11th Avenue and Halifax Street. The Exchange Cafe was located at 1706 Rose Street.

Yee Clun left Exchange Cafe in 1947. When I settled in Regina in 1964, the cook there - my distant relative another Yee family - welcomed me to Canada.  In the kitchen, I watched him cooking my pancakes not knowing until now that I was retracing the steps of Yee Clun in the same kitchen.