Kung (Kwong) Wo Ching Company

10136 97 Street, Edmonton

Later known as Shac Han Chop Suey

The two-storey wood frame building was vacant until 1920 when Kung (or Kwong) Wo Ching Company (Grocers) was established in it. A common practice of many of the Chinese business owners was to live in the same building as they operated their business, and Mr. Kwong Wo Ching was no different, as his residence was recorded in the Henderson Directory as at the same address. The business would have sold Chinese groceries, vegetables and herbs to the Chinese living in Edmonton. Edmonton Chinese merchants typically ordered their Chinese goods including medicinal herbs, dried vegetables, and tin or bottled food from Vancouver, British Columbia. Fresh vegetables could be locally grown by Chinese market gardeners, of which Edmonton has had several. Two years later it was left vacant again.

The doors may have opened in 1931 as Shac Han under the proprietorship of a Mah Jackson or Mah Jok (Chinese name), and remained as such for several years with variations of the business name Shac Han (1931-33), Shac Han Café (1934-35), and finally, Shac Han Chop Suey (1936-45). In 1946 the address and the restaurant were no longer recorded in Henderson’s Directory. However, some newspapers provided evidence that Shac Han Chop Suey or Shac Han Café was already established as an authentic Chinese restaurant in 1922. Prior to the building’s demolition to make way for Canada Place in the late 1970s, the building was the business premise of Far East Co. & Importer, while upstairs was the Hun Fung Athletic Club, a martial arts society.

On the city edition of The Edmonton Bulletin dated September 8, 1922, an article appeared on page 6 with the caption, “Members Press Club Enjoyed Chinese Dinner.” Members of the Press Club gathered for their club meeting on a Wednesday night at Shac Han Chop Suey on Namayo Avenue and were served a “novelty dinner”. The writer noted that the members were “consumed with curiosity as to what a real Chinese dinner might be like.” This Chinese dinner consisted of “birds’ nest soup, chop suey and a whole lot of other dishes, not forgetting the real Chinese tea at the finish, over the pouring out of which everyone managed to fumble more or less. Anyway, the dinner was excellent of its kind, and was a credit to Mah Jackson, the proprietor, and his smiling assistants.”

Another interesting tidbit in the same article is that
one of the diners among the Press Club was the
Hon. Frank Oliver, who presented the city editor of
the Edmonton Journal, F.H. McPherson, with a gold pencil on his recent marriage.

The Edmonton Journal also printed an article on July 19, 1926 that mentioned Shac Han Café as the restaurant that provided a banquet dinner for local and visiting Alberta Chinese National League delegates representing their branches who gathered at Haddon Hall (10112-97 Street) in Edmonton. The occasion was to celebrate the 13th birthday of the Chinese National League that was organized by Dr. Sun Yet Sen in Alberta, and featured a number of prominent guests from the city.

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Era: The War Years
Themes: Trade & Industry
Cultural Groups: Chinese
Area: Central

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