738 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 77 PART 5 SEPTEMBER 2019
disciplined. At Suzhou University Harry lived in an eight-bed dormitory
room with a shared bathroom. After law school, his goal was to study
abroad, then return to China to teach.
In 1947 Harry took the General Gordon Transportation Ship, paid the
head tax and sailed to San Francisco. At the encouragement of Reverend
Harry Liu, he moved to Chicago and studied English for a year at the Moody
Bible Institute. His fiancée, Jennie Chen, joined him in Chicago and they
married in 1948. He eventually attended John Marshall Law School in
Due to depleted savings and a disheartening lack of work opportunities,
Harry and Jennie packed their bags and moved to Canada. They literally
spread out a paper map and randomly selected Saskatoon, where Harry
attended law school at the University of Saskatchewan for one year. Even
though they faced discrimination in matters as simple as finding accommodations,
they persisted and finally found a two-room apartment for
Saskatoon proved to be unbearably cold (weather-wise and work-wise).
They learned about a more abundant Chinese population in Vancouver, so
the decision to board the train was straightforward. Harry knew he would
have no difficulty in obtaining work there. But other events would force a
slight detour in Harry’s dreams. The Chinese Communist Revolution of
1949 meant his plans to return home to Hangzhou went up in smoke.
Fortunately, Harry was able to transfer his course credits to the University
of British Columbia, but, less fortunately, he had to take a course on
Shakespeare. It was incomprehensible to him. He spoke to the dean about
getting an exemption from the course—Harry could learn legal concepts
and definitions, which would be beneficial to his career, but Shakespearean
literature was both extremely difficult in a foreign language and useless to
him. Can you imagine being in a foreign country—like, say, China—and taking
a university-level classical literature course on Taoism, in Chinese?
How would you fare? With that reasoning the dean agreed and Shakespeare
was no longer an issue. Harry took two years to complete his law degree at
UBC, graduating in May 1951.
While Harry was one of the first Asians to graduate from a Canadian law
school, he was still a Chinese citizen and therefore unable to practise law,
much less article. One heart-wrenching story that he shared with his daughter
recently was of the time he sat in the audience during commencement,
watching his classmates cross the stage. At that time, Harry was faced with
an agonizing choice: rent a graduation gown, or buy food for the next few
days. Such decisions invariably affect one’s character.