Arlene Chan

Country of Origin:



Asian Heritage


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In this audio segment Arlene talks about her mother’s arrival in the Ward and her tireless community work, particularly her work to save Old Chinatown from demolition.


Arlene Chan’s mother, Jean Lumb (1919 - 2002) was raised in Nanaimo, BC in a tight-knit Chinese family. She moved to Toronto to work at age 16 and owned a grocery store by age 18. In 1939, Jean married Doyle Lumb. They had six children and in 1959, they opened Kwong Chow, a popular Chinese-Canadian restaurant in Old Chinatown, in The Ward. Jean Lumb was active in the Chinese community and beyond. In 1965, after two-thirds of Toronto’s first Chinatown had been demolished to make way for New City Hall, she led the Save Chinatown committee to prevent further demolition. She also played a crucial role in changing anti-Chinese immigration laws that prevented family reunification. For this work, she became the first Chinese-Canadian woman to receive the Order of Canada.