10180 97 Street, Edmonton
Also known as Mah Gim Doo Tong Building.
One of Edmonton’s earliest formal, clan- or family-based organizations is the Mah Society of Edmonton. The Edmonton branch of the Mah Society was chartered in 1917, but according to an Edmonton Journal article dated February 24, 1958, this Edmonton branch already existed in 1914 because of Jim Mah. The first Mah clan branch office was located in this two-storey wood-framed building that once stood on the southwest corner of 102nd Avenue and 97 Street.
It was built as the private residence of John E. Jelly in 1915, and 1917 the International Coffee House relocated here from two doors down. It then became the William Laredes Restaurant from 1921-23.
In 1924, the building was listed in the Henderson’s Directory as the Mah Jim Doo Fong Club and in 1925 as the Mah Gim Doo Tong. Except for a slight variation in the English spelling of the names and the word “Club” tagged to the first name, both names refer to the same association. In 1950 the building’s name was changed to Mah Foo Fong and it remained so until 1953.
The Mahs in Edmonton were mostly from this general area or Hong Kong, where many escaped to from China after the communist take-over in 1949. Due to the high number of Mahs (the name means horse) than other Chinese names living in Edmonton, the Chinese nicknamed Edmonton a “stable”.
By 1945, the so-called Mah Society of Edmonton had moved nearby into 9643 101A Avenue, a building that was demolished and replaced in 1982. The name “Mah’s Society” is still clearly present on the exterior. It also houses the Foo Fung Sports Club and Foo Fung Seniors Drop-In Centre (Foo Fung is retained in respect to the progenitor of the Mah clan). A common practice among many Chinese associations was to purchase or erect buildings of their own as soon as they have the means, often through membership fees, investments, fundraising and donations, to do so, and the Mah Society was no different.