Eugene Yao was born in Shanghai in 1946, and came to Canada in 1969 as a student of McGill University in electrical engineering, where he met his wife-to-be, Winnie Ng, a sociology student. He was later president of the Chinese Canadian National Council. In recent years, he became known for starting a commuter bicycle shop in Toronto called The Urbane Cyclist. (Toronto Star | Activist Magazine)
My friend Bethany knew him personally and this is what she had to say about Yao:
Eugene was the most generous, kind-hearted person you could imagine. He was a forward-thinking man, and decided to leave traditional employment behind. He was married to Winnie Ng, well-known NDPer and immigrant- labour-rights activist in Toronto. They let me stay at his house for a month when I was working in Toronto and refused to let me pay them a cent, loved by all my friends who were clients of Urbane Cyclist.
I had just got my bike stolen when I moved in with them and Eugene kindly supplied me with a sturdy old beater for the month! Of course, it ran like a dream….