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Wong Yet

A native of Toi-san county, Wong Yet arrived in Canada in 1895 to work for the CPR. He settled in Olds, Alberta, in 1897 and, using savings and a loan, established a hand laundry and a restaurant. In 1903 his son, Wong Pond, arrived to assist him; he managed the restaurant. After a 1912 fire destroyed both businesses, they built a restaurant called the Public Lunch on the town's main street.

Bakery, restaurant, and Wong Yet Star laundry, 4907-5th Avenue, Olds, Alberta. 5th from left, Wong Pond. 2nd from right, Wong Yet, ca. 1904-1905. In 1922 Frank Wong, son of Wong Pond, left China for Olds; he was twenty-two years of age. From then until 1972 - fifty years - he served as proprietor of the Public Lunch. Over this half-century, the Wong family built a theatre, pool hall, and barbershop near the restaurant. Frank Wong married Irene Won in 1927; the couple had five children and prospered. During the Great Depression, they provided food and a hayloft for shelter to homeless men who arrived at their house seeking help in exchange for doing chores.

The family has long engaged in church activities, backed local sports, and been involved in worthy local projects. The Wongs have been well-regarded business people and residents for generations. Back in 1927 a very dubious Irene Won of Victoria was struck by the lack of racial animosity and discrimination in the town. Like the Louie Hong family, the Wong family has given much to their community; likewise, they have fortunately received equal measure in terms of friendship, respect, and general goodwill.

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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