Dr. David C. Lam was from 1988 to 1995 the 25th Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia.
Dr. David C. Lam, our Harmony Award winner, has set a significant example in harmony by his generous and selfless contributions to Canadian society. In 1967, he arrived in Vancouver, from Hong Kong, with few assets, but after acquiring a diploma in Real Estate Appraisal in 1972, went on to a career as a developer and real estate investor and helped shape Vancouver’s skyline. He is still Chairman and President of Canadian International Properties Ltd., and has donated considerable sums of money to developing and encouraging the social culture of his own Chinese community and the broader community of his adopted city, province, and country.
Dr. Lam’s vision of Canada is of a place where immigrants not only find refuge and opportunity, but also contribute the best of their culture and backgrounds to the rich pluralism of our land. He has worked to advance the image of the Chinese community in Canada and has led his compatriots by example. In 1967, he founded the Hong Kong Merchant’s Association of Vancouver, which has assisted new immigrants from Hong Kong with lifestyle transitions concerning language, education and taxation. He is also a major supporter of s.u.c.c.e.s.s., a social service organization in Vancouver. He has provided major funding for the construction of the David Lam Auditorium and is a major supporter of the Chinese Cultural Centre in Vancouver.
Dr. Lam’s personal vision unites the older classic Chinese influence with Western advances in technology and economics. He has implemented his holistic vision in many endeavours by providing major funding to support the Asian Pacific Initiative Centre and the Institute of Dispute Resolution at the University of Victoria. He has also funded a centre for International Communication at Simon Fraser’s Harbour Centre Campus. Dr. Lam has donated large sums of money to the University of British Columbia, establishing a Management Research Library. He has donated land to Regent College, a theological seminary associated with UBC, and endowed a fund to build a garden centre and garden devoted to Asian plants within UBC’s Botanical Garden. Indeed, his lifelong interest in gardening led to his massive funding of the Sun Yat-Sen Classical Garden in Vancouver’s Chinatown, and his rehabilitation of the grounds of Government House during his tenure as Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia (1988-94).
In his role as Lieutenant Governor, Dr. Lam believed his job to be that of a “healer of wounds, a matchmaker of sorts between people of different views, and one who offers encouragement and inspiration.” He made more than 300 speeches a year, towards this end. In his words, “the world is changing whether we like it or not. It’s so important that change becomes our friend and not our enemy.”
David Lam was born in Hong Kong in 1923 to a well-to-do family. After completing an economics degree at Lingnan University in China, he went to Temple University in Philadelphia for his MBA and was a candidate for the Ph.D Program at New York University. In 1954, he completed the Advanced Management Program in Hong Kong, conducted by Harvard University, and embarked on an 18-year career in banking, capped by his position as Director and Chief Manager of the Ka Wah Bank Ltd. Along the way, he married his wife, Dorothy, and had three daughters. He also found time to serve as Chairman of the Baptist Medical Board for Hong Kong Baptist Hospital (1955-67) and as Chairman of Hong Kong Baptist College (1957-67). He continues to be on the Board of Governors for Hong Kong Baptist College, but now also serves as Trustee, Chancellor’s Circle, UBC, and Patron, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden Society of Vancouver. He is founder and president of both the Floribunda Philanthropic Society and the David and Dorothy Lam Foundation. In his lifetime of achievement, he has been honoured with an honourary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of British Columbia, 1987, and the Order of Canada, 1988. Tonight, we honour him again with the Harmony Award – another honour well deserved.