________________ CM . . . . Volume IV Number 5 . . . . October 31, 1997

cover Spirit of the Dragon: The Story of Jean Lumb, A Proud Chinese-Canadian.

Arlene Chan.
Toronto, ON: Umbrella Press, 1997.
32pp., paper, $7.95.
ISBN 1-895642-24-8.

Subject Headings:
Lumb, Jean.
Chinese Canadians-Biography.
Women civic leaders-Canada-Biography.
Women social reformers-Canada-Biography.

Grades 4 - 9 / Ages 9 - 14.
Review by Joan Payzant.

*** /4


At the age of 12, although she loved school, Jean had to quit to work in her father's fruit store to help support the family. In those days, there was no law about staying in school. Looking back, Jean says, "Father took me out of school to work so Robert, my older brother, could go on in school." She feels very proud of this sacrifice because her brother later graduated from university as an aeronautical engineer.
image The author of Spirit of the Dragon is Arlene Chan, a librarian and daughter of Jean Lumb, the subject of this biography. Jean's story is reminiscent of an Horatio Alger tale, but, in this case, success comes to a young Chinese-Canadian girl in spite of many drawbacks. One of a family of 12, Jean was brought up during the Depression and the Second World War. At age 12, she was taken out of school to work with her father, but at night he taught her, using her brother's text books. She went on to establish her own business, entered an arranged marriage, and, with her husband, opened a well-known Chinese restaurant in Toronto, the Kwong Chow. The couple worked very hard to make their restaurant a success, but Jean still devoted much time to her six children. To give them many advantages she, herself, had been denied, Jean became a Christian so that her children could attend Sunday School and join the Boy Scouts or Girl Guides.

      Jean was the only woman who went with a Chinese delegation to Ottawa in 1957 to meet with Prime Minister John Diefenbaker. The objective was to persuade him to have the Exclusion Act of 1923 changed. She sat next to Mr. Diefenbaker and helped to make it clear to him exactly how they wished it to be changed. From that day on, writes the author, "Jean became known as the unofficial spokesperson for the Chinese community."

      Spirit of the Dragon is well-illustrated with photographs of Jean Lumb in the company of her family and important people in her life, including John Diefenbaker, Queen Elizabeth, Governors General Roland Michener and Jules Leger, plus Lieutenant Governors of Ontario, Pauline McGibbon and Hal Jackman. A concluding section, as well as listing Jean's extensive accomplishments and awards, cites sources of more information about her and other Chinese-Canadians. An index is also included.


Joan Payzant is a retired teacher and teacher-librarian living in Dartmouth, N.S.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © 1997 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364