by Daniel, Junior Council

In Summer of 2019 my family and I had made plans to go into Downtown Vancouver and visit the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Gardens. However, we never managed to find the time to last year, and now, due to the ongoing pandemic, we unfortunately won’t be able to for an indefinite period of time. But as we stay at home and follow the federal procedures, my family and I (me especially) like to reflect on the name the gardens bear: Dr. Sun Yat-sen.

Dr. Sun was a remarkable man in many ways. He is still viewed as an influential person even though he died nearly a century ago in 1925. Dr. Sun was born in Guangzhou in 1866. He had voyaged to Hawaiian colleges to get a better medical education in his younger years because he felt that there were better schools overseas. Upon returning, he became frustrated with what he saw as a collapsing China, which in his eyes contrasted with the progress of the USA and Britain. As such, he embarked on a lifelong goal to transform China into a republic, and gained notoriety for his novel philosophies which defined what a quintessential society meant to him, for which he is remembered today.

While this eminent person certainly had a great impact on his country, he also has a strong impact on Canada. As part of his international exploits, he had toured through Canada in the early 20th century to try to raise funds for the numerous revolutionary societies he worked for and educate expatriate Chinese about the possibility of a Chinese democracy. In doing so he had spread his philosophy even to Canada, and helped to impact the thinking of the population and BC. His actions even inspired a relatively unknown son of a Chinese coal importer to immigrate to Canada, who would later become a model civilian and would donate to many charities. His name was David Lam. And Mr. Lam would go on to sponsor the creation of Canada’s first classical Chinese garden, the one mentioned earlier that was named after Dr. Sun Yat-sen himself. In some regards Dr. Sun ushered into Canada a wave of Chinese culture in a place which once suffered from widespread segregation against the Asian community, and helped to make Canada the nation it is today, with its grand multicultural heritage and its diverse ethnic backgrounds.

So when we reflect on Dr. Sun Yat-sen and his unmistakable presence today, it is also interesting to note how he has changed Canada.

Sources for further reading:

https://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/sun-yat-sen-and-canada-the-historic-ties-between-alberta-and-chinas-revolution/