Toronto Through My Lens

Category: People (Page 1 of 5)

Jean Lumb Lane

In Chinatown there exists a small lane dedicated to the memory of a remarkable Chinese-Canadian woman named Jean Lumb:

Jean Lumb Lane, off Dundas Street West, near Huron Street

Who Was Jean Lumb?

Since coming to live in Toronto I have heard the name Jean Lumb mentioned but was not aware of her historical importance and influence until doing a bit of research.

Jean Lumb was the first Chinese-Canadian woman, and the first restauranteur, to receive the Order of Canada for her community work. Most notably, she was recognized for her pivotal role in changing Canada’s immigration laws that separated Chinese families, and for her contribution in saving Toronto’s First Chinatown.

Jean Lumb was very active in community work throughout her life. As mentioned earlier, she was instrumental in organizing the campaign to save Toronto’s First Chinatown from complete demolition. She also galvanized the community against further expropriation of remaining portions on Dundas Street West.

Jean was a major force – and the sole woman – in the 1957 Chinese delegation which lobbied the government of John Diefenbaker. They lobbied to repeal explicit racial discrimination from the immigration laws, which contained race-based criteria for admission to Canada.

Early History

Jean Lumb was born in Nanaimo, B.C. in 1919. Her father emigrated to Canada to work as a farm labourer. Jean Lumb left school at age 12 to work and support her family. In 1935, she moved to Toronto and later opened her own grocery store here at the age of 17.

The mother of six children and grandmother of nine grandchildren, Jean Lumb was the co-owner (with husband Doyle Lumb) and director of the Kwong Chow Restaurant in Toronto for 23 years. The restaurant was highly successful and popular with both Chinese and Westerners, with many clientele who were politicians due to its proximity to Toronto’s City Hall.

Jean achieved many “firsts” in Toronto. This included being the:

  • First Chinese woman on the board of governors of the Women’s College Hospital.
  • First Chinese woman on the board of University Settlement House
  • First Chinese restaurateur and first woman to receive the Fran Deck Award for outstanding achievement in Toronto’s restaurant industry
  • First Chinese-Canadian woman to sit on the board of Rotary-Laughlen Centre

She also served as director and honorary advisor of the Yee Hong Chinese Nursing Home for Greater Toronto and the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Toronto, respectively.

Jean Lumb was honoured with around 20 Awards, her first being the Order of Canada in 1976.

This remarkable woman’s legacy continues long after her passing in 2002. The Jean Lumb Foundation awards high school students with Chinese heritage annually for their accomplishments.

You can visit the Jean Lumb plaque in Diversity Garden (southeast corner of Elizabeth Street and Foster Place) near the original site of the Kwong Chow restaurant.

The Jean Lumb Lane was officially opened on November 13, 2019 (below):

Photo: Chinatown BIA

If you’d like to listen to Jean Lumb’s daughter Arlene Chan and Jean Lumb herself, here is an interesting YouTube video:

Toronto Comicon 2024

Toronto Comicon is an annual comic book and pop culture convention held in Toronto at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre since 2001.

When it comes to the worlds of Fantasy, Sci-fi, Cosplay, Roleplay, LARPing, etc., I’m quite out of the loop and couldn’t identify with much of what I saw that day, but it was all quite fascinating nonetheless. I’ve come to the conclusion that people just simply love to dress up no matter the occasion, and this convention gives them a very generous outlet to do just that.

To attend a Comicon to shoot the costumes has been on my photo radar for a number of years, and it was fun to finally do that this past weekend. The sheer mass of people was almost overwhelming and all 3 floors of the Metro Convention Centre, plus the North Building, were jammed with attendees.

This event had it all, including:

Wardrobe malfunctions…

Miles of comic books…

Masses of people…

Epic battles…

Boardgames…

Memorabilia for sale (lots!)…

And – of course – some great costumes…

St. Patrick’s Day Parade

In a nutshell, St. Patrick’s Day observes the death of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. The holiday has evolved into a celebration of Irish culture with parades, special foods, music, dancing, drinking (and more drinking, and more drinking) and the wearing of a whole lot of green.

Here’s a few shots of the parade that went down Yonge Street. In true Toronto style it proved to be a fully multi-cultural event:

From The Vaults: Farewell, Jack

This post is based on an event from thirteen years ago, so I guess it qualifies for my so-called From The Vaults series.

A Bit Of Background

Everyone who has a pulse is familiar with the name Jack Layton (July 18, 1950 – August 22, 2011). Jack served as the leader of the NDP from 2003 to 2011 and was leader of the Official Opposition in 2011. Previous to that he sat on Toronto City Council, occasionally holding the title of Acting Mayor or Deputy Mayor of Toronto during his tenure as City Councillor. Jack was also the Member of Parliament (MP) for the Toronto-Danforth riding from 2004 until his death.

Jack rose to prominence in Toronto municipal politics, where he was one of the most prominent left-wing voices on the City and Metropolitan Toronto Councils, championing many progressive causes. In 1991, he ran for Mayor, losing to June Rowlands. Returning to Council, he rose to become head of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. In 2003, he was elected leader of the NDP.

Under Jack Layton’s leadership, support for the NDP increased in each election. The party’s popular vote almost doubled in the 2004 election, which gave the NDP the balance of power in Paul Martin’s minority government.

Jack died on August 22, 2011, after being diagnosed with cancer. He was survived by his wife of 23 years – our current Mayor – Olivia Chow.

Remembering Jack, Nathan Phillips Square

In the week before the funeral, Jack’s body was laid in state at Parliament Hill at the House of Commons foyer in Ottawa, then in repose at Toronto City Hall.

On August 26, 2011 a huge memorial for Jack was held in Nathan Phillips Square, outside Toronto City hall. It is from this memorial that my following pictures originate. It was a low-key but very powerful event; the love and respect for this man was clearly on display everywhere in the Square that evening:

Interment

Jack Layton’s ashes were scattered in three places: Cote St. Charles United Church in Hudson, Quebec where he was raised; on Toronto Island, where he was married; and at the Toronto Necropolis, near where he lived.

Here is Jack’s bronze bust atop a red granite pillar at the Toronto Necropolis:

Leaving A Legacy

For those interested, here is a CBC timeline of Jack Layton’s accomplishments

Halloween on Church Street!

It was another very busy Halloween night on Church Street once again this year. The weather was crisp and quite cool, but there was no rain to speak of. The turnout was massive, having a lot to do I’m sure with events re-energizing after COVID-19.

The mayhem ran from Carlton Street to Gloucester Street, and every inch of the street was packed with people. There were so many inventive and impressive costumes; people’s creativity never ceases to amaze me:

The non-slideshow version is here

Here’s a short video of the scene at Church & Wellesley Streets last night:

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