Hong Leonard, Lillian
Lillian Hong Leonard was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia to Charles Hong and Lim Megan Hong. Charles Hong was 12 years old when he immigrated to Canada with his father in 1923. He returned to China to marry Lim, and the couple gave birth to two daughters. Because of The Chinese Immigration Act, 1923 and subsequent immigration restrictions, Lim and her daughters remained in China until around 1954, when they immigrated to Canada. Lillian was born in 1957, two years after the family established their first laundry business on Clyde Street and Birmingham Street in Halifax. Lim worked alongside her husband in addition to cooking all the meals and looking after their three daughters. When Charles and Lim closed the doors of Hong’s Laundry in 1978 (then located on Dresden Row), it was one of the last businesses of its kind in Canada. The remaining equipment became part of the Canadian Museum of Civilization collection, and was featured in the exhibition, Enduring Hardship: The Chinese Laundry in Canada (2000).
Lillian Hong Leonard was about five years old when this photo was taken in her family’s laundry. She is standing in front of the cash register with the family cat. Lillian guesses that she was not much of a help to the business at such an early age. When she grew older, she was responsible for fetching orders for customers.