Born in 1937 in Canton, China, David Chuenyan Lai moved to Edmonton in 1968, then to Victoria later that year. Holding a Ph.D. in Geography from the University of London, he is a UVic geography professor and heritage conservationist who was named Honorary Citizen of Victoria in 1980. Lai compares the growth of Chinatowns with four periods of Chinese immigration in Chinatowns: Towns with Cities in Canada and reveals that the life of Chinese immigrants, who could not vote in B.C. elections until 1947, was much like life under apartheid until the Second World War. He has received numerous awards including the Order of Canada in 1983 and the Gabrielle Leger Award for outstanding contribution to heritage conservation in Canada in 1999.

Author of:

Arches in British Columbia (Sono Nis Press, 1982)

Chinatowns: Towns with Cities in Canada (UBC Press 1988)

Forbidden City Within Victoria: Myth, Symbol and Streetscape of Canada's Earliest Chinatown (Orca Book Publishers, 1991)

Land of Genghis Khan: The Rise and Fall of Nation-States in China's Northern Frontiers (University of Victoria Geography Dept., 1995)

Co-author of:

Building and Rebuilding Harmony: The Gateway to Victoria's Chinatown. University of Victoria Geography Dept., 1997. [With Pamela Madoff] Canadian Western Geographical Series, Vol 32.

Great Fortune Dream: The Struggles and Triumphs of Chinese Settlers in Canada, 1858-1966 Caitlin Press, 2016. $26.95 / 978-1-987915-03-7. Co-authored with Ding Guo.

Co-editor of:

The Dragon's Head: Shanghai, China's Emerging Megacity. Western Geographical Series 34, U of Victoria Geography Dept., 1998. [Harold D. Foster and Naisheng Zhou]

Selected Awards:

Applied Geography Citation Award (Association of American Geographers, 1982)
Award of Merit (American Association for State and Local History, 1983)
Member of the Order of Canada (Conferred by Governor-General Ed Schreyer, 1983)
The Commemorative Medal for the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada (1992)
The Gabrielle Leger Award (The Heritage Canada Foundation, 1999)

Reviews of the author's work by BC Studies:
Chinatowns: Towns Within Cities in Canada
Chinese Community Leadership: Case Study of Victoria in Canada
The Forbidden City Within Victoria

[LITHIS / BCBW 2017]