"I think the main reason why most of the Chinese got into restaurants was that it didn't take too much money to get a restaurant going."
Retired Calgary metallurgical engineer Stan Fong credits his parents' insistence that he and his brother get an education in overcoming discrimination and hardships while growing up in rural Alberta.
"Mom and Dad were always after us that we're going to finish university, that we're going to get an education and get the hell out of the restaurant business," laughs Stan, who was born March 3, 1925, and grew up in the town of Wayne, in Alberta's coal-mining belt.
Stan's paternal grandfather, Lum King Fong, came to Canada in the 1880s to work on the railroad, and eventually settled in Calgary. In 1911, he sent for his 16-year-old son, Fong Sung, whose English name was James Fong, to join him at the Calgary Chinese Mission, where many of the community's bachelors lived. Father and son worked together at the Brickburn brickyard in west Calgary during the First World War.next page >
As a young man, James began courting Tuey Cheung Mark, who was born in 1900 in China, but traveled with her family to Lacombe, Alberta, where they ran the landmark Club Cafe. The couple married in the first Chinese Christian wedding held at the Chinese Mission in Calgary on Nov. 22, 1920. They moved to Wayne, where they farmed, ran a trucking and coal delivery business and opened the Western Cafe, which they operated through the Depression and into the 1960s.
They had two sons, Stan and Edward, who both became engineers, but were often teased as youngsters that they didn't speak enough Chinese. "Dad thought about it a couple of times and then he said, 'You're going to be in Canada, learn English and get an education in English and don't worry about Chinese,'" Stan recalls.< previous page