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Memorable Manitobans: Norman Lee [Lee Kwok Dow] (c1910-1996)

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Norman Lee
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Businessman, community activist.

Born in China around 1910, he came to Canada in September 1922 under the sponsorship of his father, Lee Wing Bun. Coming to Winnipeg he attended Somerset School from 1922 to 1925 then a year at Cecil Rhodes School. He took flying lessons at the Winnipeg Flying Club, receiving his pilot’s licence in May 1933. He went to Nanking, China in 1935 to volunteer in the Air Force, returning later to Winnipeg to start his own business. In 1944, he married May Chun (1914-2005) of The Pas and, three years later, he opened the Chinese Gift Shop in Winnipeg, importing goods from Hong Kong.

He volunteered in fundraising for the Red Cross, Canadian National Institute for the Blind, Winnipeg Police Athletic Association, and activities of the Chinese community in Winnipeg. He helped to organize the Chinese Pavilion at Folklorama. He was an active member of the Manitoba Wildlife Federation, enlisting over 1,100 members to The Pas Wildlife Federation in 1977, the largest membership in Manitoba. He was active in the Northern Manitoba Trappers’ Festival, local fishing derbies, and the Junior Rifle Association. In recognition of his community work, he was given a Good Citizenship Award by Lieutenant-Governor Bud Jobin in February 1979. He was made a Goodwill Ambassador of the Manitoba Wildlife Federation.

He died at Winnipeg on 19 October 1996.


The Pas, Gateway to Northern Manitoba by The Pas Historical Society, 1983, page 339.

Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 23 October 1996, page 31.

Photograph of Good Citizenship plaque, Archives of Manitoba, Chinese Historical Society Fond, P7072, File 59/1.

We thank Elinor Lee for providing additional information used here.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 2 November 2016

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society.

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