There are many groups in our country that have made a significant impact on the cultural fabric of Canada’s west. Perhaps overlooked at times, is the outsized part played by the Asian community. Whether it was Sikh farmer who came here, risking their own economic security, or Chinese railroad workers, travelling long distances from their loved ones to build a brighter future, their story is the story of the prairies.
Heritage Park is proud to showcase a number of links to Asian heritage in our collection. One such building is the Wing Chong Chinese Laundry. The original structure was built by John Lemuel Sexsmith in 1906, in High River. Mr. June Jay Tse would eventually buy the building in 1925 and would use the building as a laundry until 1970, when he retired. In 1978, the town of High River donated the building and the artifacts inside to Heritage Park. The building’s ground floor was renovated into three sections. The front room depicts a typical laundry from about 1914. The second represents a Chinese kitchen and the back room represents the living room of a moderately successful Chinese family.
The second building on site is the Club Café – which is used to demonstrate that Chinese Cafe’s were a common feature of virtually every prairie town in the Edwardian era. The fade of the building resembles Won’s Public Lunch, which was located in Olds in 1918. The name Club Café was chosen as research found this to be the most commonly used name for Chinese Cafes in southern Alberta.
Please join us in marking this Asian Heritage Month and celebrating the numerous contributions people of Asian descent have made to Canada.