The First Chinese Medical Doctors Practiced in British Columbia: Philip Chu and Edward Gung

First Chinese Doctors Practiced in British Columbia: Dr. Philip Yuey Yit Chu and Dr. Edward Basil Kung)

Dr. Philip Yuey Yit Chu (1898-1944)

We want our countrymen to come to Canada and be educated here, so that when they graduate they can return to China and become leaders and help govern the country in an intelligent manner. We do not blame you for exclusion of Chinese immigrants. We can do the same thing; but we do hope and strive for better treatment of our countrymen already in your land, many of whom have been born here.

Dr. Philip Chu of the United Mission,
Addressing the Western Canadian Chinese Nationalist League at Victoria, B. C.
New Outlook, Dec. 12, 1928

Philip Chu was born in Yanping, Kwongtung, China in 1900. He arrived in Vancouver, BC, as a fatherless child when he was only thirteen. Being a brilliant and hardworking teenager, he took evening classes from the Methodist Mission in order to learn English and was able to study and graduate at a public school in three years. Then he moved to the dormitory at the newly completed Methodist Chinese Mission building on Beatty Street and continued his high school education. During his stay, he came to know Christ and was baptized. Dr. S. S. Osterhout, Superintendent of Oriental Missions, his mentor and friend, knew well his character and passion to help people and recommended him to the Methodist Board of Missions to receive a scholarship for studying medicine at the University of Toronto. He married Miss Lily Chow at the end of his second year of medical school.

After graduating from the University of Toronto in 1925 and completed two years of post-graduate studies at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. Dr. Chu returned to Vancouver to serve at the United Church Oriental Hospital as a medical missionary in Vancouver. He was registered with the College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1925 and became the first Chinese doctor to practice in Vancouver, BC.

There’s great hope and aspirations attached to the opening of this hospital and the work of Chinese doctors serving the local Chinese community: “One can readily imagine what an advantage a knowledge of the language and customs gives to a Chinese practitioner, and also how the Gospel will be recommended to the Chinese patient and the whole Chinese community by such a ministry.” (New Outlook, Dec. 28, 1927) Dr. Chu was also instrumental in negotiating with hospitals in B. C. to accept Chinese girls as nurses-in-training.

Feeling called to serve his home country, Dr. Chu took his wife and five girls on a steamship back to Canton as a professor at the Army Medical College. Severe climate and poor living condition led to ill health of his family members and as a result, he sent his family back to Vancouver in 1934 and stayed alone in China till the bombing of the medical college in 1938. After returning to Canada, he established a private practice in Toronto and tirelessly spoke throughout Canada on the subject of China’s resistance to Japanese imperialism. He was called to the eternal presence with God at the Toronto General Hospital in 1944 at age 46.


Dr. Edward Basil Kung (1898-1970)

“For a brother’s heart I pray,
To watch and help the weak today.”

~ Edward Basil Gung

Edward Kung and Philip Chu were classmates at the University of Toronto. Gung was born in Canton, China and came to Canada with his mother to a reunion with his father in 1909. After landing Canada, he was actively involved in the Chinese Methodist Mission in Victoria and again recommended by Dr. S. S. Osterhout, to receive a scholarship from the Methodist Board of Missions for studying medicine at the University of Toronto. Gung served as the President of Victoria Christian Chinese Y. M. C. A. He was the founder and president of Toronto Chinese Methodist Mission during his medical years in Toronto.

After graduation, he returned to Victoria and set up a medical mission to the Chinese community in co-operation with the United Church of Canada paralleled to what his classmate Dr. Chu did in Vancouver. He was the second Chinese physician practicing medicine in B. C. after being registered with the College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1926. He married Miss Mary Chin in 1931. Here is an excerpt from his personal letter to a friend describing his ministry in Victoria:

“The work in the Chinese mission is progressing. There is nothing spectacular. On Christmas Sunday we held a White Gift service. The toys were sent to the Solarium for Crippled Children near Victoria. The Christmas concert went off splendidly. We had an appropriate programme and as usual, a packed house.”

(New Outlook, Feb. 4, 1931)

The Gung family left Canada in 1933. Dr. Gung had served under the New Zealand Presbyterian Church medical mission in Panyu, with the Canton Christian Hospital, taught in the Sai Chuen Girls Middle School and the School of Nursing in the Hackett Hospital. Prior to returning to Canada to set up his own medical practice in Vancouver in 1936, he worked in the Hong Kong Sanatorium for one year. He retired and went to be with the Lord in 1970. Dr. Gung was remembered as an “enthusiastic and loyal Christian.”

徐如悅醫生和龔邦耀醫生:最早在卑詩省行醫的兩位華裔醫生 [中譯文]




徐如悅於一八九八年生於中國廣東省恩平市。他抵步卑詩省溫哥華市時,是個無父只得十三歲的孩子。他到循道會上夜校為要學英語。這十來歲的年青人資質聰穎勤奮,在公立學校讀了三年就畢業。跟著他搬進在Beatty街新落成的循道會華人教會的宿舍繼續中學課程。在此期間他認識了基督並接受洗禮。 S. S. Osterhout博士,循道會東方差傳事工總監,他的導師和朋友,因熟悉他的為人與樂於助人的熱誠,向循道宣教差會推薦,使他獲得獎學金攻讀多倫多大學醫科。在醫學院第二年,他與周小姐結婚。





龔邦耀和徐如悅是多倫多大學的同班同學。龔邦耀出生於中國廣州,於一九零九年與母親抵達加拿大與父親團聚。抵步後,他常參加維多利亞市華人循道會的聚會,後獲S. S. Osterhout博士推薦,循道宣教差會給他一份在多倫多大學攻讀醫科的獎學金。根據大學的學生成績報告單,龔於一九一六年任維多利亞基督教華人青年會主席。他在多倫多讀醫科期間,創辦多倫多中華循道會。
醫科畢業後他回到維多利亞,與加拿大協和教會合作設立一所醫療站服務華人社區。這與同學徐如悅醫生在溫哥華所作的相倣。一九二六年他向內外科醫生學會註冊,成為第二名在卑詩省行醫的華裔醫生。一九三一年他與Mary Chin小姐結婚。以下節錄自他給一位友人的信,內中提到他在維多利亞的事工:



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