Memorable Manitobans: Sam Dong [Dong Sum / Dong On / Jank Kak Yuk] (1891-1960)
Born in Guangdong, China in 1891, Sam Dong likely came to Canada around 1909 according to the 1916 census. Like many Chinese Canadians of his generation, he spoke English and worked in a variety of restaurants, tailor shops, and other businesses in many prairie villages, towns and cities while he supported a wife and children who were forced to live apart from him in China.
By the 1920s, he was a travelling salesman in Manitoba selling candies, tobacco, and slot machines to Chinese cafes that dotted the prairies. Sam was a life-long traveller between Canada and China, visiting his growing family and also across the prairies visiting Chinese restaurants, collecting orders, returning with supplies, and socializing with friends. By the 1950s he was tired and wanted a quieter and more settled life and so he moved to Winnipeg and bought a share in a curio shop on Osborne Street.
Aside from his life as salesman and business owner, Sam was a devoted KMT member.
He died at the Winnipeg General Hospital on 17 December 1960. His close friend and lawyer Vaughan Baird flew to Hong Kong to deliver his ashes to his wife and family. Sam had not wanted to spend an eternity buried in the prairie cold.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 20 December 1960, page 98.
“Notice to creditors,” Winnipeg Free Press, 31 December 1960, page 85.
The Way of the Bachelor by Alison R. Marshall, Vancouver, UBC Press, 2011.
Cultivating Connections: The Making of Chinese Prairie Canada by Alison R. Marshall, Vancouver, UBC Press, 2014.
We thank Helen Wong for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Alison Marshall.
Page revised: 26 July 2022