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On Lee House

Photograph of East side
The east side of On Lee House, as it looked in 1984.
On Lee House was built by a Chinese merchant who ran a store in Yale.

The On Lee family were part of the merchant class in Yale. Their property faced onto Douglas street in the area regarded as Chinatown. An excerpt from On Lee House - Documentary History provides some background information about the On Lee house town plot at Lot 10, Block 2:

On Lee House - Documentary History
Click to read more.
The subject property was purchased by On Lee in the Spring of 1880 for $800 from the Oppenheimer Brothers, Merchants.13 The property had originally been crown granted in 1859 to Max William Fifer, and then passed through a series of owners until its purchase by On Lee.14 It is not known whether any buildings were constructed on this property prior to On Lee's occupation, however, it is known that by 1883 he had constructed a store.15 By 1885, as shown on the fire insurance plan he had four buildings on this lot; a grocery, washhouse, and two other buildings identified only as "Chinese" (Linda J. Eversole. On Lee House - Documentary History. p. 4).

Photograph of East side
East and South side of the house.

Artifacts and architectural drawings are all that remain of the On Lee house legacy.

Unfortunately, the On Lee house does not exist any longer due to a recent fire. Architectural drawings were done by the UBC School of Architecture in August, 1982, which document how the house since it had undergone a renovation in about 1930. All that survive are some artifacts that were used in the house around the year 1900.

Section A-A On Lee House Drawings
Click to see the drawings.

On Lee artifacts housed in the Yale museum.
Split bamboo kitchen whisk used for cleaning pots and pans, this whisk was originally in the On Lee house. Serving dish, hand painted - Circa 1900 used by the On Lee Family.
Bowls for rice used by the On Lee Family - Circa 1900. Small sauce dish, handpainted - Circa 1900 used by the On Lee Family.

Another private home was originally built in 1863. See what it looks like on the Shilson house page.

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Last updated 31 August 1998.
This digital collection was produced under contract to the SchoolNet Digital Collections Program, Industry Canada.
Produced by Schoolnet Digital Collections Team.