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from Wah Lee to Chew Keen cover

Book Details:
  • 258 pages
  • Black & White
  • 5.5 x 8.5 inches
Available Formats:
  • eBook (epub, mobi, pdf)
  • Paperback
  • Hardcover
  • 978-1-4602-9431-4 eBook
  • 978-1-4602-9430-7 Paperback
  • 978-1-4602-9429-1 Hardcover

Chinese Canadian, Great Depression, the great war, immigration stories, British Columbia history, Gold Rush, family tree

from Wah Lee to Chew Keen
The story of a pioneer Chinese family in North Cariboo by Liping Wong Yip

Who was Wah Lee? To the Keen family living in North Cariboo, B.C., Wah Lee was their forefather from China; amongst local historians, Wah Lee is the name for a general store in Quesnel, B.C. This book unravels the mystery of a name, which is also the story of a person, a business, and a family that traverses 150 years of history and crosses the Pacific from China to Canada. What unfolds is not just the history of one family, but a history of the recent past in Canada and China told through the trials and fortunes, hopes and dreams of individual family members. This is a story that can be treasured by family members, historians, and other Chinese-Canadians alike in years to come.

This is a well-written and comprehensive historical documentation of the Keen family in North Cariboo. The strengths of this book lie in its revelations of the entrepreneurial spirit of early Chinese merchants who owned and operated a trading store, Wah Lee & Co., in Barkerville and Quesnel, as well as that of the social, economic and intellectual contexts in the Keen family. Patiently tracing the change of the family name from Chew to Keen, the author made great efforts to show the effects of 19th-century Chinese history on the lives of those from the Pearl River Delta, their motivations for immigrating to Canada, and the determination and diligence of these early Chinese immigrants to make life work. This book contains a wealth of Chinese customs and traditions that affected the lives of early Chinese immigrants from the Pearl River Delta. Many of these customs and traditions are still observed and practiced today by many Chinese-Canadians. Liping’s research is extensive and remarkable, offering a good reflection of the development and growth of British Columbia.

—Lily Chow, researcher and writer

Liping Wong Yip photo

Liping Wong Yip was born and grew up in China, but has lived in Canada since 1983. She is married with two grown children. Her writing of the Keen family history sprang from her interest in history and culture. Her inspiration comes from her experiences of living in both China and Canada.


Liping Wong Yip

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