H990.277.61a-c - Dr. Yip Kew Ghim label

Catalogue Number
Object Name
Object Type
Chinese Canadian
Use Country
Use Province / Territory
Use Municipality
Artifact History

These labels are associated with Dr. Yip Kew Ghim (1902-1968) and his western medicine clinic and pharmacy at 531 Main Street, Vancouver. Rough translation indicates that these labels went on bottles that contained ginseng, nutritious medicine for general health. The patient was to take 1/2 a Chinese spoon before meals 2-3 times a day.every four hours. Each bottle cost $1.50. Ghim studied at the University of British Columbia and then at Queens University to become a physician and was the first Chinese to practice western medicine in Canada, at a time when Chinese Canadians did not trust western medicine. Ghim devoted himself to establishing and maintaining a free health clinic in Chinatown in 1928, well before the advent of the welfare system and the medical coverage available today. He helped to run St. Joseph Oriental Hospital, a Catholic supported hospital for the destitute (Bock W. Yip, 'His Influence', in the 'Green Book', or "Biography of Yip Sang", p. 9). There is a picture of Ghim at work, most likely in this hospital, in a picture dated 1937 (Paul Yee, "Saltwater City", p. 89). He later campainged vigorously to raise funds for the construction of a new Mount Saint Joseph hospital and served faithfully on the Board of Directors for many years. He applied his energies to fund raising and health services for the Chinese public school system (Bock W. Yip, 'His Influence', in the 'Green Book', or "Biography of Yip Sang", p. 9). This artifact is part of a large collection removed from the Wing Sang building at 51 East Pender St., Vancouver in 1989 prior to renovations. The building was constructed in 1889 and enlarged over the years by Yip Sang, an important Vancouver pioneer, entrepreneur and philanthropist. Yip Sang had 4 wives and 23 children, most of whom eventually lived in the Wing Sang building. The building had many functions: a private residence for three of his wives, most of his 23 children, and other relatives; meeting rooms; a schoolroom; his office as the C.P.R.'s book-keeper, time-keeper, paymaster and Chinese Passenger agent; a base for supplying the Empress Steamship Company with food for Chinese crews; and as a storage and operations base for his businesses: importexport firm, salmon and herring salteries, Chinese labour brokering to salmon canneries, money remittance from Vancouver to Hong Kong, gas station, bake shop, insurance and grocery store. Over the years, Yip Sang expanded the original three storey building by adding extensions and constructing a six storey building immediately behind it. Yip Sang was also active in community affairs, helping to found the Chinese Benevolent Association, the Chinese Board of Trade, the Oy Kuo Night School, and the Chinese Empire Reform Association. He was also a patron of the arts, supplying local Cantonese opera companies with goods, and arranging for visits from overseas companies. For further information on any of these points, and for complete citation of references, please consult the documentation specific file.

Original Owner
Dr. Yip Kew Ghim
Associated Vancouver Neighbourhood


Supporting Documentation Contents

Refer to Doc. Spec. file for further information.

Physical Description
a-c) Rectangular adhesive paper labels; top printed with Chinese characters which read "Western Medicine Yip Kew Ghim Clinic" and "531 Main Street Vancouver B. C."; roughly translated, Chinese characters below read "Ginseng nutritious drink before meal half a Chinese spoon 2-3 times daily, medicine for health each bottle $2.00"; similar in size and colour to H990.277.60a-c.
paper, ink, adhesive
yellow, black
machine made
Yip, Henry