In memory of David Chuenyan Lai, C.M., Ph.D.

David Chuenyan Lai, C.M., Ph.D., was one of the Geography department's longest-serving faculty. Included in his numerous achievements and titles are his status as Professor Emeritus of Geography, Adjunct Professor of Pacific and Asian Studies Department, and Research Affiliate of the Centre on Aging at the University of Victoria. He was an Advisory Professor at East China Normal University, Shanghai, and Southeast Asian Research Institute of Hainan University, Haikou, China. Dr. Lai left an amazing scholarly legacy over his 35 years with UVic.  Dr. Lai rendered exceptional service in fostering knowledge and understanding the Asia-Pacific region, he shared his knowledge of Asian culture and history with countless students who have since become inevitably inspired by his wit and honesty. His research interests included development of Chinatowns, history of Chinese Canadians, and the urbanization of China. In the last decade of his academic carrer, his research interest was extended to the field of aging. He was a co-investigator in Dr. Neena Chappell's research projects on the Chinese Elderly in British Columbia, and Health and Well-being of Chinese Seniors in Canada. He has over 260 publications which include 26 refereed academic articles, nine books and two edited books.

Dr. Lai's research has much impact on the community which, for example, led to the City of Victoria's Chinatown Rehabilitation Program, and the designation of Victoria Chinatown as a National Historic Site. His research on the Chinese Cemetery at Harling Point also led to its designation as a National Historic Site in Oak Bay Municipality. He was engaged by the Planning Department of the cities of Portland, Vancouver, and Edmonton to advise on their Chinatown gateway projects, and the City of Kamloops on its Chinese Cemetery Preservation Project.

Dr. Lai was very active in community work, serving as an Advisor of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association of Victoria since 1972 and a member of the Multicultural Advisory Council for British Columbia since 2003. He is the Honorable Advisor of the Victoria Chinese Senior Activities Centre and Victoria Chinese Seniors Association. He was a member of the Senior Advisory Council of B.C. Government (1996-1999), and a member of the Premier's Council on Aging and Seniors' Issues (2005-2006).

Dr. Lai has received 28 awards and honours in recognition of his scholarship and community service. The notable academic awards are Applied Geography Citation Award by Association of American Geography, Award of Merit by American Association for State and Local History, the Award of Merit of the Education Foundation of Chinese Canadian Professionals (Ontario), and University of Victoria Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching. The significant non-academic awards are Member of the Order of Canada, Honorary Citizen of the City of Victoria, the Gabrielle Legar Award of the Heritage Canada Foundation, and the Heritage Award of the British Columbia government. 

The department is honoured to have provided a platform for Dr. Lai to extend his knowledge, influence and joy of learning, and we look forward to following the development of his legacy through the ongoing work of former students and colleagues.

Explore Dr. Lai's work via Google Scholar here.

Dr Lai