Doing Justice to an Accomplished Alumnus

Principal Daniel Woolf, Justice Kin Kee Pang, Arts’70 and Chancellor Jim Leech
Principal Daniel Woolf, Justice Kin Kee Pang, Arts’70 and Chancellor Jim Leech

When the 1968 football Gaels defeated Waterloo Lutheran to capture Queen’s first-ever Vanier Cup in 1968, Kin Kee Pang, Arts’70, was there.

One of 16,000 fans who packed Toronto’s Varsity Stadium on that cold November afternoon, Mr. Pang, now a retired High Court Justice in Hong Kong, remembers the lopsided 42-14 victory as if it happened yesterday.  “The score wasn’t close,” he says. “But I was on the edge of my seat the entire game.”

Almost 50 years after that historic victory, Justice Pang would have his own moment in Queen’s history when he became the first-ever recipient of a Queen’s honorary degree conferred outside of Canada.

A native of China, Justice Pang grew up in Hong Kong. At the time, there were only a few local options for students who wanted a high-quality university education. “Competition was fierce for the local schools, so I had to choose between Canada, the US, and England if I wanted to go to a good university,” he says.

Because he had relatives in Vancouver, he chose to attend the now-defunct Notre Dame University College in nearby Nelson, B.C. At the recommendation of one of his teachers there, he transferred to Queen’s in time for his second year.

He felt at home from the moment he arrived. “I learned the Oil Thigh during Frosh Week,” he says, “and it has been stuck in my mind ever since.”

For the next three years, Justice Pang immersed himself in the Queen’s experience, living in the then-all-male McNeil House, indulging his academic passions for geography and geology, getting caught up in a sometimes-raucous social life, and, of course, football. “My introduction to football was through the TV,” he says. “I watched CFL, NFL, NCAA… But my best memories are of Queen’s football. I remember watching Don Bayne, the quarterback, and the legendary coach Frank Tindall. It was a golden age for Queen’s football.”

After returning to Hong Kong, Queen’s degree in hand, Justice Pang studied law in London and practiced in Hong Kong as a barrister. He joined the Hong Kong Judiciary in 1985, first as a magistrate and eventually retired as a Judge of the High Court, where he pioneered the official use of Chinese languages in trial proceedings. He also served as a commissioner on the High Court of Brunei.

As busy as his career kept him, he always had time for Queen’s. He served for 12 years on the University Council and for 25 as president of the Queen’s University Alumni Association (QUAA)’s Hong Kong branch.

When he learned – in a letter from the Principal’s Office – that he had been chosen to receive an honorary degree, he experienced what he describes as “a state of pleasant shock.” “It was the greatest honour I could imagine,” he says. “I feel like I have realized my wildest dreams.”

Justice Pang accepted his honorary degree at a ceremony in Hong Kong in May.