Mr. Ralph Lee, 106 years old, rode the “Head Tax Redress Express Train” to Ottawa for the “trip of a lifetime”

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Mr. Ralph Lee, 106 years old, rode the “Head Tax Redress Express Train” to Ottawa for the “trip of a lifetime.

I
attended the ceremony that saw the first people that boarded the
“Redress Express Train” to Ottawa, for which they would see Prime
Minister Harper make an apology for the Chinese Head Tax and Exclusion
Act.

Travellers
got on board at stops in Edmonton, Winnipeg, and Toronto.  106
year old Ralph Lee, got on board and travelled from Toronto to
Ottawa.  The following letter is from his grand-daughter, followed
by an article in Sing Tao News.

July 5, 2006

VIA Rail Canda
Inc.

Headquarters

3 Place
Ville-Marie, Suite
 500
Montreal, Quebec H3B 2C9
Canada

 

Attention: Mr.
Paul Cote; President and Chief Executive Officer

 

Dear Mr Cote;

I am writing on
behalf of my grandfather, Mr. Ralph Lee who, at 106 years old is the oldest
living Chinese Head Tax Payer in Canada . 

In Canada , my
grandfather was a Chinese Railroad worker.  Although he was not part of
the early Chinese Railroad crews whose labor enabled the Last Spike to be
driven in 1885, he was part of the work crews who maintained and extended the
extensive Railroad network in Canada
.  As a Chinese Railroad worker, my grandfather is one of the last living
links to the building of the Canadian National Dream. 

On June 22, 2006
my family took Grandpa for the last real trip of his life on the “Redress
Express”¬ train ride from Toronto to Ottawa courtesy of VIA
Rail. The family's decision to let Grandpa travel came with great trepidation. 
Our fears quickly subsided, the moment we arrived at Union Station.  Once
Grandpa saw the train station, he lit up and was eager to board the train and
start his journey. Grandpa could hardly contain his excitement.

During this
historic train ride, Grandpa was given the honor of carrying the commemorative
Last Spike to its final resting place in Ottawa
. What an amazing tribute! A Chinese Railroad worker carried the Last Spike by
train, representing the Chinese contribution to the building of the
transcontinental railway, honoring the four thousand Chinese workers who lost
their lives during construction.  VIA made this pilgrimage possible. 

 I can'tt begin to
describe the joy I felt watching my Grandfather enjoying such happiness, while
participating in such a monumental event, the last significant event of his
lifetime.  My family was overjoyed by this experience and deeply grateful
to VIA Rail for their contribution to this celebrated event. Your gift has
touched my family in a unique and intimate way that has made an overwhelming
impression.

My whole family
appreciated the extent to which VIA Rail went out of their way to ensure
Grandpa was well cared for and comfortable.  Everyone was helpful,
gracious, friendly and most of all, sincere.  In particular, Catherine
Kalooski was awesome!  Catherine ensured that every detail was taken care
of.  Catherine went out of her way to ensure that Grandpa's last ride
was the best trip of his life.   

The symbolic train
ride lifted everyone's spirits and allowed strangers to bond in an atmosphere
of pure camaraderie. Even today, several weeks after the historic journey,
Grandpa continues to be invigorated by his trip. His eyes are still sparkling
and my whole family agrees that Grandpa has been revitalized by this memorable
and monumental occasion.

VIA Rail's
contribution enabled the Redress Express and created a lasting legacy, which
will be remembered for generations to come.  My family extends a heartfelt
Thank You to Via Rail for their role in this profound event.

Warmest Regards,

Landy Anderson

Granddaughter of a
Chinese Railroad worker and Head Tax Payer

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