The first Chinese restaurant in Wetaskiwin was located on the corner of 51 Avenue and 50 Street and operated by Charlie Wong, nicknamed “Old Slim”. The C.P.R. workers and the blacksmith enjoyed the close proximity of the café and relied on Old Slim for meals and snacks.
Bon Ton Café
Operated by Mr. Lee Wing, the café faced the railway tracks on the corner of 49 Street and 50 Avenue. Lee Wing first came to North America as a 14 year old and got a job as a houseboy in San Francisco. There he learned to speak English and cook the ‘American’ way. He later moved to B.C. and arrived in Wetaskiwin in 1900. He met his Norwegian wife while they both worked at the Driard Hotel. Together they owned and operated the Bon Ton Café. The café was originally located in the middle of the street but was destroyed by fire. The Wings relocated into a building on the corner that was formerly a general store. On Christmas Day, the Wings held an open House at the restaurant for neighbours and lonely people without families.
Don Dong arrived in Wetaskiwin before World War I and operated a Club Café between the Driard and Criterion Hotels on 50 Street. A relative ran the B.C. Café just to the north of the Criterion Hotel. These were popular cafés because they were close to the railway and all the bachelors would go there to eat. It was said that “more honest or kinder friends than the Dongs could not be found elsewhere”. The Club Café relocated to the east side of the town in the 1920s. The café was run by 4 generations of the Dong family until the 1980s when it closed.
The Stanley Café was located on the site of an early livery barn. By 1914 the livery barn had been replaced with a store and café located directly west of the post office at 50 Avenue and 50 Street. The café had many owners until it was bought by Chong Yee in the 1920s. Yee had worked in laundries in Calgary before arriving in Wetaskiwin. Like most Chinese immigrants Yee came by boat from China and arrived in Vancouver where he lived before moving West. In Vancouver Yee had a friend named Stanley and they used to take their rare time off in Stanley Park in Vancouver. The new café was named Stanley as a tribute to his friend.
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