Velma Demerson was born in Vancouver. After her parents divorced, she lived in Toronto in a rooming house with her mother, who supported the family by managing the house and reading tea leaves in the parlour. When she was 18 Demerson was imprisoned for her relationship with a Chinese man. She won an apology and compensation from the Ontario government when she was in her 80s and wrote her book Incorrigible. Velma Demerson died in 2019.