Albert Leong spent almost all of his 80 years of life living at the Bow on Tong in Lethbridge’s Chinatown. That was up until 2013, when he had to move out temporarily while his property underwent restoration as a historic site.
Leong, known amongst the Chinese community as the ‘Last (Chinese) man in Chinatown’, says he was forced to sell because renovations at his own expense would have been too costly. Now, after several generations in his family’s hands, Leong has turned over the keys of the property to a new owner. He shares with a crowd of supporters how for over 50 years, he ran his business not to make money, but to share stories about Lethbridge’s Asian history.
At the farewell gathering, which was held outside the store Wednesday morning, members of the community shared stories of visiting Leong’s store as a child.
Community members say that caution needs to be taken when government-funded initiatives try to preserve history.
The Bow on Tong was a popular meeting and leisure area in Lethbridge’s Chinatown. The main floor housed a herbal shop, and provided a well-frequented location for gambling. The top floor and basement were apartments occupied by tenants as well as the owners.