Local veteran selected to meet and greet royal couple

Gordon Quan, 90, will be part of an honor guard that welcomes Prince William

  • Sep. 22, 2016 7:00 a.m.

By Tim Collins

When the royal couple arrive in Victoria on Saturday they will be welcomed at Government House by an honour guard made up of a group of Canadian veterans chosen by the Canadian Legion to represent the patriotism and service of the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces.

One of the men who will be meeting the royal couple is Gordon Quan, a 90-year-old veteran of World War II who served, not with the Canadian military, but the British.

Quan’s service to Canada is a fascinating tale of patriotism, heroism and service, but despite his bravery during World War II and his decades of subsequent service, Quan said he was very surprised when he got the call telling him that he was one of the few members of the honour guard who would actually be allowed to speak to the royal couple.

“I got the call last week and they asked me if I was physically fit enough to shake hands with her highness and speak to her,” laughed Quan. “I still drive and I go to the Veteran’s Health Centre twice a week to exercise, so of course I can shake hands. It’s all very exciting though, isn’t it?”

At the age of 18, Quan wanted to join the armed forces to fight for his country but was not immediately welcomed to the military.  Though he was born in Canada, the Chinese Immigration Act of 1923 prevented him from serving or even voting in the country he called home (the law changed to allow Chinese Canadians the vote in 1947).

But Quan persisted and in 1944 he was allowed to join the forces — but only on the condition that he transfer to the British forces for service in the Pacific theatre. He was sent to England where he was trained as a demolition expert. From there he traveled to India and then Malaya where he became part of the Burma campaign.

Quan’s job was to infiltrate enemy locations and set explosives on rail lines, fuel depots and other enemy assets. The tasks were generally considered to be suicide missions, but Quan survived and returned home having been awarded the Burma Star for bravery.

But Quan’s service to his country didn’t stop with the end of the war.He served another 30 years with the militia.

Quan is still active with the Royal Canadian Legion and proudly wears his uniform at commemorative events honouring Canada’s service men and women.

Quan said he’ll be proud to meet the royals, and equally proud of the fact that, when he does, he’ll be wearing his Canadian Legion uniform, complete with the eight medals he was awarded by the military for service to his country.

“I don’t think the royal couple would really be interested in any of my story,” said Quan. “I’m not famous and I didn’t do anything special, really. I’m just going to be there to welcome them to my country, and help represent all the other Canadians who have served Canada with pride.”

editor@vicnews.com

 

 

Just Posted

Victoria-Saanich amalgamation discussions won’t be open to the public

The upcoming citizens’ assembly meetings will be held in camera

Red-tailed hawk’s own bill is killing him

‘Most birds with this syndrome will starve to death without treatment’

Outdoor cats one of the biggest causes of wildlife injuries, says Wild ARC

Spring a vulnerable time for fledlings, small mammals

Royals face Blazers to kickoff WHL playoffs

Series opens Friday, March 22 at Victoria’s Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre

Search and rescue volunteers work to keep waterways safe

Over 1,000 volunteers help keep mariners safe; headquarters based in Sooke

Five highlights in the 2019 federal budget

Latest budget includes a sprinkling of money for voters across a wide spectrum

Greater Victoria Wanted List for the week of March 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: When do you think the next major earthquake will hit Vancouver Island?

According to seismologists, Vancouver Island is overdue for a magnitude 7 earthquake.… Continue reading

Dead sea lion discovered on Hornby Island shoreline

Reports indicate animal was shot in the head

Celina Caesar-Chavannes quits Liberal caucus, sits as independent MP

The Whitby, Ont., MP has been a vocal supporter of Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott

Island SPCA overwhelmed by 45 cats taken from Comox Valley property

Many of the cats will be transferred to branches in Nanaimo and Victoria

Woman punched on the sidelines of B.C. soccer game

Both involved were watching the U21 game in West Vancouver from the sidelines when things got heated

Paramedic staff shortage at critical level: B.C. union

A number of units were out of service due to lack of staffing in Lower Mainland, union says

B.C. dairy farmers say federal budget not enough to cut losses from USMCA

Concerns raised over vague details, funding access and impacts on growth

Most Read