Overseas Chinese Patriotic Society

by setohj

It is a well-known fact that many early Chinese in Canada formed organizations that promoted charity and brotherhood, many of which remain in existence today. These include family clan associations and regional associations. For example in Vancouver, the Seto and the Sit clans banded together and formed the Fong Leun Tong Society (鳳倫堂) in 1916. An example of a regional association is the Hoy Ping Association (開平會館)established for the benefit of people with roots from the county of Hoiping (Kaiping) in southern China. There are also umbrella organizations that united various associations. Among the most well-known name among these include the Chinese Benevolent Association (中華會館). Every major urban centre has its own version of it.

Little has been mentioned though in Chinese Canadian history studies about a temporary type of Chinese organizations which sprung up in Canada from time to time in order to address an issue that arose and threatened the well-being of the Chinese in Canada. Once the issue was resolved, then the organization would soon disappear. I believe that among the most respected scholars of Chinese Canadian history, Prof. David Chuenyan Lai and the late Prof. Edgar Wickberg had mentioned the existence of these temporary organizations in their studies of Chinese Canadian history but provided little detail.

Recently I stumbled upon a story of one such temporary organization. In order to combat the rising tide of anti-Chinese sentiments in British Columbia, the Chinese in the provincial capital of Victoria, British Columbia established the Overseas Chinese Patriotic Society in 1915. It is also known as the Victoria Patriotic Society. A short article of its first general meeting was reported in The Chinese Times(大漢公報), the most prominent Chinese language newspaper in Canada at the time. My translation follows this Chinese news article below.

《域埠愛國團成立開全体大會》

『月之十三號 華僑愛國團假座中華會舘開成立全体大會。時屆八点。已座無空隙 首由團長李仙儔君宣佈成立理由 着文事科將宣言書及簡章朗誦畢 繼副團長馬君榖如。將志願書宣明入會理由。。次由正團長請各界代表發表意見 每次演說畢 鼓掌之聲。幾破耳鼓。可見華僑愛國心益膨漲也。各界演說畢。各人起立三呼中華民國萬歲。。同胞萬歲。。同胞萬歲 散會。』

The Victoria Patriotic Society Inaugural All General Meeting

“The thirteenth of this month, the Overseas Chinese Patriotic Society took its place in the Consolidated Chinese Benevolent Association Inaugural All General Meeting. The time of meeting was 8 o’clock. After all were seated there were no breaks. Starting with the society branch chief, Mr. Lei Lhin Ceu (in Hoiping romanization, or in Mandarin: Li Xianshou), declared the reasons for the establishment [of the patriotic society]. At the completion of the loud declaiming of the literary matters in the manifesto and constitution, Vice-chief Mr. Ma Gug Ngui (Ma Guru) continued, volunteering to declare clearly the reason for enrolling in the society. Next, it was for the main chief to invite the delegates from all walks of life to issue their opinions. Each time a speech concluded, there was the sound of applause [that seems to be] loud enough to break several ear drums. One could see the Overseas Chinese patriotic hearts all the more swelling. When the speeches from all around were finished, everyone stood up three times shouting: Long lives the Republic of China. Long live our brethren. Long live our brethren. The meeting then dispersed.”

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