We recently noticed this note on one of the old wooden trunks in which some of the historic costumes and regalia have long been stored. This sticker refers to the Adelaide Charity Carnival of 1898, the Chinese section of which was organised by prominent merchant Way Lee, who arranged to borrow from Bendigo the costumes and dragon used in the Easter Parade. It is also valuable evidence for both the minimum age of the trunk and the distances over which the Bendigo Chinese Association’s regalia have travelled raising money for charity across Australia.
Yet Soo War Way Lee (c.1853-1909) (pictured at left in 1901) was a prominent figure in South Australia’s Chinese community who originally hailed from the Dunggun district in Guangdong province. Having assisted the Chinese Imperial commissioners in their visit to Australia in 1887 he was made a fifth rank Mandarin the following year. His experience in organising the charity parade in 1898 was unfortunately not a happy one, which involved a great deal of personal expense to himself. Poor weather also hampered the event, and combined with other factors, such as the expense of bringing the regalia over from Bendigo and paying the wages of its caretakers, very little money in the end was raised for charity compared to the amount of effort expended. (Picture credit State Library of South Australia)