Known as a the man who brought countless smiles to the faces of Victorians, Jack Tang was a charitable force in the Victoria community throughout his life. He along side his wife Bessie, they shared a passion for community service, Chinese drama and heritage, and were always ready to entertain the young and old. Uncle Jack was famous for twisting up balloons for kids, wherever he went, his pockets always full of balloons. Jack and Bessie had no children and are remembered as always being together. Through their charity work and goodwill they helped many overcome the hardship and racism that prevailed in early Victoria. Owners of the Victoria landmark ‘Tang’s Pagoda’ clothing store, on Douglas Street, Victoria, Tang’s was well know as a special place to visit where all were welcomed. In 1968, Jack was made an honourary citizen of Victoria and became an honourary Chief of an Alert Bay band. Jack Tang died at age 92, December 21, 2011, following his wife Bessie in 2005.
‘Uncle Jack’ touched many lives; Businessman Tang was big booster of Chinatown Lions, B.C. charities
Times Colonist, December 28, 2011, Obituary
Esquimalt Archives, Vertical Files, Tang, Jack
Uncle Jack’s Story Continues into the Millennium
In 2009 the Pagoda building was sold to Gerald Hartwig, a local Victoria developer. I happened to be chatting with Gerald’s daughter, Stephanie, yesterday and mentioned that I had been doing some research on Uncle Jack and noticed that her dad had purchased the property. When she heard his name she lit up and proceeded to tell me this very unexpected thread of Uncle Jack’s story. This is a story that links a century of history starting in China at the turn of the century, 1900, to a young Victoria woman in the early part of the millennium.
At the time of the sale, out back of the building, was the garage that housed Uncle Jack’s Cadillac. Gerald offered to buy the car and gave it to his daughter Stephanie to drive. “There I was” she said,” driving around town in Uncle Jack’s old Cadillac. What a cool old car. It was mint and so much fun to drive, but not very good on gas. I finally had to sell it and get something less expensive.”
Born in 1919, Jack Tang was the son of laundry businessman Tang Yip, of Esquimalt, the same man who sponsored Tang Kam Chew ‘Soue Kee’ from China.
For Bessie Tang – see Bessie Tang, vertical files at the Esquimalt Archives.