Gladys (née Wong) Chin

My birth was fate…

In 1920, Sue Wong, on his own in Canada, but with a wife and young daughter in China, had only enough savings for one boat passage from China and one head tax to enter Canada. He sent for Woo, his wife. She left behind behind their daughter, 3- year old Kam Oi, with a promise that one day, both her parents would return to China.

Sue and his wife held fast to their goal of saving to build a large and comfortable house in China. Whenever a well-meaning lady from the church came by offering to teach Woo English, she would argue that she had no need for the language: “I’m going back to China.”

Gladys Wong, circa. 1938. (Courtesy of Gladys Chin)

Mrs. Wong had six more children in Ottawa and was pregnant with a seventh, when, early in 1937, the family booked passage for China. They chose a sailing date of September, one month after the baby’s due date. That summer, Japan invaded China and the Wongs’ dream of going home and reuniting with their child there faded.

Gladys, the seventh child, said her birth coincided with a turning point for the family: “The [Sino-Japanese] war profoundly and decisively changed my parents’ goal of returning to China; the finality of their future was realized when both became proud citizens of Canada—Dad on Aug. 9, 1951, and Mom on June 9, 1953.”

In 1963, more than four decades after she’d been left behind in China, Kam Oi, the Wongs’ first-born, visited Canada and had a reunion with her parents in Ottawa.

Morley Chin, in his college playing days. (Courtesy of Morley Chin)

Gladys married Morley Chin, whose parents, Charles and Rose, ran “Chin’s Restaurant” in Lucknow, Ontario. In a town known for hockey greats such as Paul Henderson (he learned to play hockey as a youngster in the basement of the family’s restaurant), the Chins were themselves a famous hockey-playing family: of 14 children, 11 played hockey at a serious competitive level.

In 1943, the Toronto Maple Leafs invited three Chin brothers—George, Albert and Bill, aged respectively, 15, 16 and 17—to that year’s training camp. Morley himself attended the University of Michigan on a hockey scholarship. Gladys, who became a teacher, and Morley settled in Ottawa.


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Copyright © 2012 Ottawa Chinese Community Service Centre and Denise Chong

1 Response to Gladys (née Wong) Chin

  1. Pingback: FRANK CHIN | In Memoriam

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