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Joe Yin Louey standing in front of On Hie & Co, 210 Little Bourke Street

Joe Yin Louey (c1950-)

My father, Louey Joe Yin 雷祖恩, is standing in front of the shop On Hie 安泰 which his grandfather, Louey Leong Hock 雷良學, had a share in. Louey Leong Hock came to Australia in 1899 and left for the last time in 1933. This is the first photo I have ever seen of the original shop as my father would have known it.

I found the film containing this image inside an old 35mm film cannister. The cannister was amongst my father’s belongings which we sorted through after my parents passed away in 2012. I had only recently thought of opening the cannister to look inside. No idea why I had not done so before, perhaps I was afraid it might have contained unexposed film. There were 25 images inside, mostly 35mm negatives.

I have been researching the purpose of my ancestors’ journey to Australia. Up until a year ago, I did not even know which member of the family came out here. I vaguely recalled from family conversations that a Louey started the On Hie business, perhaps an uncle of my father’s. I knew the original shop at 210 Little Bourke Street was gone, but the storage building behind the shop (12-14 Celestial Ave) carried on the name.

My parents were married in 1949, then my father left Guangzhou to travel to Australia. He did not make a return trip until 1959, by then my mother was living in Hong Kong. My father was about 23 when he arrived in Australia, he worked as a poorly paid clerk for his grandfather’s cousin who ran the On Hie business. I guess this photo was taken in the mid-late 50s as he looked smartly dressed which meant he had managed to save some money.

Anna Wolf

Image source: Louey Family collection
Creator: unknown
Date of creation: mid–late 1950s
Place: 210 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne
People: Joe Yin Louey, also known as Louey Yin Kee to most old chinatown people.

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