Daniel Law Family

Daniel Law

King Ming John arrived alone in Canada at the port of Vancouver in 1918. He came to Windsor as a twenty year old man and found work on Drouillard Road as a cook at the East Windsor Tavern. He arrived during a period when the amended Chinese Immigration Act of 1901 had effectively raised the ‘head tax’ for the third time to $500.00; the equivalent of two years wages.

It wasn’t uncommon for Chinese men to return to China, take a bride and begin a family. During the early 1920s King Ming John took two separate trips to China to visit his wife Goo Young and begin his family. His daughter Sun Chang Law (nee John) was born in 1923 and his son Back Lin John was born in 1924.

King Ming John’s dream was to reunite his entire family in Canada. Both domestic and international events persuaded Canada to enact the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1923 which prevented him from doing so. The end of World War II saw many changes take place on the world’s landscape. Canada became a signatory to the United Nation’s Charter of Human Rights, which compelled Canada, along with internal forces, to enact a bill to repeal the Exclusion Act in 1947. After being separated from his wife for thirty years, King Ming was finally reunited with Goo Young in 1951. This was the plight of most Chinese men and the legacy of hundreds of Chinese families.

King Ming’s dream was now in sight as the Immigration Act had been liberalized to meet Canada’s international obligation. Back Lin John being the eldest son was the first to bring his family to Windsor in November 1964. Sun Chang and Yau Law followed two years later arriving on Thanksgiving Day 1966. To mark the occasion everyone went to Jackson Park and celebrated near the Lancaster Bomber.

Daniel Law and his cousin Sungee John are mindful of their grandparent’s sacrifice and their parent’s patient and deliberate wait to come to Windsor. Daniel Law recalled when he first met the Honourable Paul Martin Sr., Minister of External Affairs as a little boy in Hong Kong in 1954, “It was suggested during that meeting that our entire family come to Canada. That was one of the trips a lot of Chinese immigrants began to pay respect to Herb Grey and Paul Martin”.

Daniel Law came to Windsor at the age of fifteen in 1966. He attended Gordon McGregor the first year and then went to John Campbell to learn English. He recalled, “It was common practice to send immigrant children back a year, rather than integrate them into the regular program”. Daniel attended Walkerville Collegiate and described it as the best time of his life. He had many friends and recounts his good relations with his teachers.

Daniel started working at a young age to help his parents and grandparents so the younger children would have a chance for a better life. Family came first and when his grandfather had him chop potatoes he had no choice. His high school friends didn’t understand why he couldn’t go out on Friday nights or attend the prom. Daniel did what he was called upon to do, whether it was busing tables or filling water glasses, he did what was needed. His contribution helped his family pay the mortgage or buy food.

Daniel and his father purchased Leo’s Pizzeria on Walker Road when his grandfather retired. Daniel worked for four years and met his bride to be Dora; he promised her that he would marry her at the new restaurant. The Red Sail Restaurant was built on the Walker Road site. In 2007 it celebrated its 35th Anniversary as one of Windsor’s premiere authentic Hong Kong styled cuisine restaurants. It wasn’t unusual for Daniel to serve former teachers at the Red Sail.

Daniel became inspired by politics many years before when his grandfather took him to visit Paul Martin Sr. at his home. He has had the pleasure of serving many of Canada’s top politicians at the restaurant: Brian Mulroney, John Turner, Kim Campbell, Jean Chretien, David Peterson, and Frank Miller are among the notables. He also served six different police chiefs. His good relationship with the police Daniel credits to his grandfather. He remembers when his family first arrived, “Constable Pete Duregin met them and took them in his pick-up truck”.

Daniel recalls the Red Sail weathered its share of economic ups and downs. He attributes the Red Sail’s success to the faith of his wife, the support of his loving family and his staff; many of whom have been with him for more than twenty-two years. Upon the death of his father and his mother’s retirement Dora and Daniel became the owners of the Red Sail.

Daniel spent summers at the University of Western Ontario and earned the Canadian Restaurant Association Management Certificate. During those years his family was quick to help out including his aunt and uncle, Barbara and J.J. Lefave. Daniel considers himself fortunate and as a result he believes in giving back to the community. This commitment has taken many forms over the years. He was the first to open his kitchen to help train St. Clair College students in food preparation. He also helped create the chef class at George Brown College and St. Clair College. He has taught night school classes and also spoken to elementary school children about Chinese cooking and culture. His fondness and involvement in a variety of local groups has been honored by the many plaques which line the walls of his restaurant. One day Daniel would like the Red Sail to be converted into a retirement home for Chinese Canadians.

Daniel can speak both Mandarin and Cantonese and has acted as a translator to help resolve problems. In 1989, Daniel served as an Ambassador of Goodwill for the City of Windsor in China and Fujisawa, Japan. The Commemorative Medal for the 125th Anniversary of Confederation was presented to him in 1992. It was approved by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and nominations were sanctioned by the Governor General of Canada. Its presentation honours Canadians who have made a significant contribution to their fellow citizens, to their community or to Canada. The medal was presented at special ceremonies across the country. In 1998, the Promotional Achievement Award was bestowed upon Daniel by the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau for his efforts to promote Windsor and bring visitors to the city. The Law’s have been very involved with Filipino Community and Daniel is an honorary member of its community centre and a Supreme Commander of the Knights of Rizal; an organization founded to honour Jose Rizal, the national hero of the Filipines.

Daniel and Dora have a son named Joseph. Today, he is bilingual and works for the Clerk of the Senate in Ottawa. Family is very important to Daniel and honoring past relatives is an annual ritual. For many Chinese the first order of business when visiting home is to go to the cemetery and pay respect. These are the values Daniel has instilled in his son. In following that tradition Daniel has had two trees planted in Dieppe Gardens. One was dedicated to his father, Yau Law, and the other to Queen Elizabeth II. He chose Dieppe Gardens out of respect to Joseph’s godmother Barbara Lefave and his uncle J.J. Lefave, who managed the Cleary Auditorium, and had the trees placed within view of its edifice.