Dr. Sai Kui Lee was born in a Christian family in 1942 in Hong Kong, the eldest son of the family. As a child, he was led to worship Christ under the guidance of his mother, since then he has been a devout Christian. Dr. Lee went to Canada for his post-graduation after obtaining a medical degree at the University of Hong Kong, he then settled down in Toronto and started his private practice as a Paediatrician and Allergy Specialist until he retired in 2011.
Before his retirement, Dr. Lee started and devoted himself in another huge development project, donating his time and money, to build his dream home – Vintage Garden.
Dr. Lee and his siblings lived in different cities in Canada; his parents were healthy and lived independently in Vancouver. The six children took turn to look after their father whose health went downhill after the age of 85. Lee’s mother, who was a nonsmoker and was ten years younger than her husband, died of lung cancer in 2000. With the intent to alleviate his father’s grief, Dr. Lee received him in Toronto. He did not expect that his father passed away about 100 days after the death of his wife.
Lamenting the death of his parents, together with things happening around him, Dr. Lee had reflection on the issue of elderly. “My parents has six children, we can take turn to share the responsibilities of looking after them;” said Dr. Lee, “I myself, my three children grew up in Canada, with the influence of western culture, coupled with social and work pressure, I do not expect they have free time to take care of me and my wife. In other words, we will be alone as two old souls after we retire; so I should plan ahead.”
From his caregiver experience, Dr. Lee knows that in addition to desiring their children visits, elderly also longing for maintaining contacts with similar age group in their twilight years. In the process of learning and comparing different senior living and supportive service models in Toronto, his dream to create a comfortable living environment for himself and other elders start to emerge. In 2004, Dr. Lee and a group of Christians established a non-profit organization, St. John’s McNicoll Centre (SJMC) in Ontario. The organization submitted a formal application to the Municipal Government for the development of elderly housing community in 2006. However, they met resistance from the City.
“City Planning Office is against our plan, mainly because the site is located in the industrial and business area with high unemployment rate,” said Dr. Lee, “they are afraid that changing the use of land will further aggravate the unemployment rate.” Dr. Lee then appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) who awarded his perseverance by approving the project. In 2010, all required approvals and zoning from the Municipal Government to undertake the development of the building project were granted. With the implementation of the development of Vintage Garden, the dream of Dr. Lee is about to come true!