FAMILY HISTORY: Aunt Lillian Ho 01
Much of my writing delves into the past, so here are some of my family influences. My Aunt Lillian's history goes furthest back in Canada. Her father HO Jin Chong 何振祥 came to Vancouver in the 1890s after roaming through America and the Kamloops area of British Columbia. He was a merchant tailor who had his own shop Hing Kee 興記. He prospered enough to join other business leaders in the Chinese Empire Reform Association, 1903.
He sent for a wife from China. She was CHAN You-hao 陳有好 from Guangzhou. She quickly adapted to western dress, worked in the tailor shop, and gave birth to nine children. When her husband died in 1908 during a trip to China, You-hao was left to raise five children through tough times.
My Aunt Lillian (born 1895) was the eldest of the daughters who survived. Her first marriage to Henry Hing CHAN took her to Seattle, but she lived in Vancouver for most of her life. Later, she was the one who gave me a vivid sense of the city's early Chinatown. Her childhood formed the background to my first novel for young readers, THE CURSES OF THIRD UNCLE, published in 1986. Unfortunately, Aunt Lillian passed away before the book came out.
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