Lee Mong Kow Bursary

Lee Mong Kow, an interpreter and educator in Victoria, arrived in Canada from China around 1880. He was an important link between the Chinese community and Canadian society. Lee Mong Kow spoke a standard form of Cantonese, and belonged to Sanyl, a linguistic minority in Canada’s Cantonese-speaking community.

Lee Mong Kow soon became fluent in English, and he applied his skills with languages to help improve communication between Chinese-Canadians and Anglophones. In 1889, he was appointed as the chief interpreter for the Chinese immigration services of the Department of Customs, a position he held for over 30 years.

Lee Mong Kow was an important figure in the history of education in Victoria’s Chinatown. He helped found the first free Chinese-language elementary school in Canada. He also played a leadership role in the Chinese Public School, established in 1909 as the Chinese Imperial School, serving as an honorary principal for eleven years. The founders wanted to make sure that Chinese children had an education both in English and in Chinese so they could play an active role in future international relations.

Lee Mong Kow died in Hong Kong in May 1924. He had moved there in 1920 to work as the Chinese agent for the Canadian Pacific Ocean Services Limited. Lee Mong Kow’s contributions to education and cross-cultural understanding are commemorated with a street named after him in Victoria, Lee Mong Kow Way.

Return to Index