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Ontario Heritage Trust honours Chinese-Canadian community leader Jean Lumb with provincial plaque

October 24, 2009
For immediate release

October 24, 2009
For immediate release

MARKHAM – Today, the Ontario Heritage Trust and the Jean Lumb Foundation unveiled a provincial plaque commemorating Chinese-Canadian entrepreneur and activist Jean Lumb (1919-2002).

Born Jean (Toy Jin) Wong in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Jean Lumb became the first Chinese-Canadian woman – and first restaurateur – appointed to the Order of Canada.

In 1931, at the age of 12, she left school to work in her father's store in Vancouver. Four years later, she and her younger sister moved to Sudbury, Ontario before relocating to Toronto to open their own store. The store was successful and, within a few years, Lumb was able to bring her parents to Toronto.

Lumb became known for her social activism. She gained national profile through her work in challenging discriminatory immigration legislation. In addition, her efforts in heading up the Save Chinatown Committee in downtown Toronto prompted city council to repeal a plan to relocate Toronto's Chinatown neighbourhood. This action also helped city council understand Chinese culture and heritage better.

"Jean Lumb was a truly remarkable woman for many reasons," said The Honourable Lincoln M. Alexander, Chairman of the Ontario Heritage Trust. "What she accomplished for Chinese Canadians is remembered today through this provincial plaque. This plaque will also serve as a reminder for future generations."

Lumb is remembered for many accomplishments, including her appointment to the Order of Canada in 1976. The Jean Lumb Foundation's annual Jean Lumb Awards – which followed the provincial plaque unveiling – recognize four outstanding high school students of Chinese heritage who have achieved excellence in academics, athletics, community services and the arts, as selected by a panel of distinguished judges. (For more information about the Jean Lumb Foundation and these awards, visit

"Jean Lumb has been instrumental in preserving the Chinese community's heritage in Ontario," said Culture Minister Aileen Carroll. "It is fitting to see her commemorated today with a provincial plaque."

"The Lumb Family is thrilled that our mother is being recognized, particularly in this year of Toronto's 175th anniversary," said Arlene Chan, Lumb's eldest daughter and President of the Jean Lumb Foundation. "Her contribution to historical events in Chinatown and in Chinese communities across Canada helped shape the flourishing and vibrant multicultural communities of today. She would have been so proud of this plaque."

The Ontario Heritage Trust is an agency of the Government of Ontario, dedicated to identifying, preserving, protecting and promoting Ontario's heritage.


Quick facts:

  • The Ontario Heritage Trust's Provincial Plaque Program commemorates significant people, places and events in Ontario’s history.
  • Since 1953, over 1,200 provincial plaques have been unveiled.
  • Four other provincial plaques are located in the Town of Markham.
  • 48 provincial plaques throughout Ontario commemorate women's history.

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Gordon Pim
Marketing and Communications Coordinator
Ontario Heritage Trust
Telephone: 416-325-1484


Media release also available in traditional Chinese ...

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