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Louie Hong

Louie Hong arrived in Canada from China in 1909 at age twenty-five; a widower, he had to leave his three children behind with relatives. After a year working as a CPR cook, he joined the southern Alberta ranching outfit of the notable millionaire, Pat Burns, and cooked on the range for two years. Then, in 1913, he opened a small store/restaurant at Cluny, east of Calgary, at the time Cluny had just a few residents, a grain elevator, and an optimistic Asian entrepreneur - Louie Hong. In 1914 he opened a laundry there, too, but soon hired two men to run it.

In 1916 Louie opened a general store; three years later, he built a larger structure himself and soon thereafter sold the laundry. Louie always kept prices low (for a large turnover) and did so well that he added on to the store a number of times. In 1926 he married and the couple had nine children.

Community-minded, generous, a reliable friend who had a fine sense of humor, he garnered a legion of friends over a very large area of southern Alberta. He passed away, in 1969, at age eighty-four: a very popular, fine man had gone, and many mourned.

Reprinted from Moon Cakes In Gold Mountain: From China to the Canadian Plains by Brian Dawson with kind permission of the author.

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