On Wednesday, October 29, (2008) Prof. Edgar Wickberg, a longtime member of the Department of History at UBC, passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer. Prof. Wickberg taught Modern Chinese History at UBC between 1969 and his retirement in 1992, and achieved an international reputation as a leading scholar of the global Chinese diaspora, but his lasting impact went well beyond his research on the Chinese in the Philippines and in Canada. He helped grow Chinese Canadian history as a subject of study, creating a lasting place within UBC and within Canadian higher education for students and scholars to examine the long complex history of the Chinese in Canada. He will be remember fondly by many students and colleagues for his kindness and generousity, and his eagerness to discuss every subject from Cantonese opera to AAA baseball. Many Chinese Canadian students will remember with gratitude his patience during office hours and the depth of his empathy for their personal struggles to understand their identities as Chinese in Canada.
Ed Wickberg's engagement with the many Chinese Canadian communities of Vancouver went well beyond that of scholarship. "From China to Canada," the collaborative book project that he helped co-author and edit, remains a foundational text for understanding Chinese Canadian history, and it revealed his deep commitment to working with a wide range of community members to construct a balanced and nuanced history that went beyond the standard histories of what "had been done" to Chinese in Canada. He believed in the importance of Chinese language sources for understanding the rich lives of Chinese Canadians, and pioneered the preservation and collection of such materials. After his retirement, Ed's commitment to partnerships between academia and community led to his vision for the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of British Columbia, a broad-based society committed to increasing awareness of the importance of the Chinese in B.C. and Canadian history, as well as the collecting and preservation of materials relating to that history. Drawing upon the credibility and trust that he had built up over decades of devotion to understanding Chinese Canadian history, Ed was able to bring together a wide array of scholars and community members who shared his passion to found what has become a highly successful historical society.
In gratitude for his vision and his hard work as the Founding President, the CCHSBC created the Edgar Wickberg Scholarship in 2006 to honour his lifetime of passion for Chinese Canadian history by encouraging and supporting students in its study. Ed's expressed wish was that upon his passing, donations be made to the Wickberg Scholarship fund in lieu of flowers as a way to honour his memory. Donations may be sent to:
Dr. Edgar Wickberg ScholarshipChinese Canadian Historical Society of British Columbia (CCHSBC)Kerrisdale Postal StationPO Box 18032Vancouver, BC V6M 4L3CANADA
by Henry Yu