British Columbia

Woman who was oldest living Canadian dies at 112

The woman who was believed to be the oldest living Canadian has died in B.C. at the age of 112 — seven weeks shy of her 113th birthday.

Had 25 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren

Oldest Canadian dies


10 years ago
Sum Ying Fung died in Vancouver just a few weeks short of her 113th birthday 2:20

The woman believed to be the oldest living Canadian has died in B.C. at the age of 112.

Sum Ying Fung died Dec. 6, seven weeks short of her 113th birthday, while receiving treatment for pneumonia in Burnaby General Hospital.

Fung was born in 1899 in Guangdong, China — four years before the Wright brothers first flight and nearly 10 years before the first Model T Ford rolled off the assembly line.  

Her husband, Chong Lim Fung, came to Canada in 1911 and later returned to China to marry her. He would return often to Canada to work and go back home to visit his growing family of three children.

But Canada's immigration rules didn't allow Sum Ying Fung to join her husband in Vancouver.

Those were some very hard times for her, said son, Fung Suey Kee.

"Second World War, she had a very difficult time …raising the family," he said.

In 1954, Sum Ying Fung was allowed to immigrate with her children, settling in Vancouver's Chinatown.

In 1967, her husband died and the family moved to East Vancouver.

When Fung was 90, she underwent brain surgery, but recovered and soon after that, she travelled the world with many of her family members, visiting Germany, France, Italy.

Flew at 111

They returned to China for a visit at a tumultuous time — the democratic uprising of the late 1980s, when tanks rolled in the streets and hundreds of protesters were killed.

"In 1989, Tiananmen Square. She is there. We are there," her son said.

She last flew on a passenger jet on a visit to her son in California in 2010, when she was 111.

Fung's 112th birthday last Jan. 27 was marked with a proclamation from the City of Vancouver and a letter from the Queen.

Her son said Fung had some quarrels with modern society, especially skimpy bathing suits, and wore nothing less than a dress on a visit to the beach in Hawaii.   

She also believed tap water could be contaminated and insisted on only drinking water that had been boiled.

Fung is survived by a son, daughter, 14 grandchildren, 25 great grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held for Fung in Vancouver on Friday.

With files from the CBC's Tim Weekes