|In an era when streetcars wound their way down Vancouver's streets, a ferry linked the cash-strapped municipality of West Vancouver to the city, and the Vancouver School Board was pushing for racially segregated schools, Hok Yat Louie was teaching his eight-year-old son Tong how to write invoices at his grocery stand. Because of the political climate of the day, doing business in British Columbia was not easy for Hok Yat Louie or his sons - especially after Hok Yat began his wholesale business, H.Y. Louie Co. Ltd, in 1927. At the time, it is unlikely that anyone could have predicted that within a few decades Tong would go from being a Chinese grocer's son to one of the wealthiest businessmen to ever influence British Columbia's economy - and its culture. |
Tong Louie not only went on to expand his father's business but he become a bridge between the Chinese and non-Chinese communities in Vancouver. His business savvy lead him to owning London Drugs, IGA and Dominion stores across British Columbia, while his vision of a multicultural society lead him to be among the first Chinese-Canadians to move out of Chinatown and into a white neighborhood where his dignity and quiet determination gradually gained him acceptance. In later life, he donated generously to various causes and institutions, including Simon Fraser University and St. Paul's Hospital.