August 1, 1934 – November 22, 2022
Kwong (Dad) was born on August 1, 1934 in Shanghai, China. He passed away peacefully on November 22, 2022 in Calgary, Alberta at the age of 88. He was father to daughter Mary Ann Wong (Wesley Wong) and son Marshall Lee (Patricia Lee). He was Gung Gung to granddaughter Renee Wong and grandson Devon Wong. He was Yeh Yeh to granddaughter Mackenzie Lee and grandson Kabe Lee.
Dad grew up in Hong Kong and was raised by his grandma. He met mom Wai Fun Lee (Cheng) and they were married in February 1964.
Five months later, arriving in Montreal, Quebec in July of 1964 with only one suitcase each in hand, Dad brought his new bride to Canada to start a better life. We admire Dad’s resilience in starting a new life in a foreign country not speaking a word of English.
Our family moved four times in Montreal and never owned a car. We relied on city transit and walking as means of getting around. One winter, we walked home from Chinatown, hauling home a sack of rice in the cold. After working in several restaurants, Dad opened his own restaurant. Our favourite treat at the restaurant was coke with a big plate of fries.
In July of 1979, Dad picked up the whole family from Montreal and moved us all to the booming oil city of Calgary, Alberta. Dad wanted a better life for my brother and I. French had become the official language for speaking and working in Quebec with the passing of Bill 101 in 1977. Learning the English language was already hard enough for mom and Dad.
In Calgary, Dad worked at the downtown Lancaster food court, the Golden National Chinese restaurant in High River and ran the Hotel Restaurant in the Three Hills Motel for a number of years with his late brother Dick Fay Mar. We did not see Dad much as he worked and lived in Three Hills. Dad would sometimes come back to Calgary for the one day on a long weekend. Other times, we would go out to Three Hills on long weekends to help with replenishing egg rolls, chicken balls and bran muffins. They were long days but days cherished as we got to be with Dad.
The Hotel Restaurant in Three Hills was destroyed in an electrical fire. Dad escaped and fled to safety grabbing only one thing that mattered most – the big kitchen wok! He retired after that. Dad continued cooking up a storm for church friends and family gatherings proudly using that big restaurant wok. Everyone loved his cooking and looked forward to the next gathering. Now that he’s gone, there’s no family recipes passed down as Dad spontaneously measured his ingredients.
Dad cooked special meals once in a while for the seniors at Wing Kee Nursing Home. Food was Dad’s passion and soul. He was happiest when cooking and baking. So were we.
Dad was a quiet and gentle man. We have no memories of ever seeing him mad. He worked hard to financially provide for his family. Dad worked long restaurant hours and out of town when operating his restaurant in Three Hills, Alberta.
Dad wasn’t able to spend a lot of time with us growing up. He was always working, but on his days off, he’d make our day special. One time he promised to take us to Grandby Zoo in Quebec. We rode the bus and the Montreal Metro subway all day but Dad could not find the zoo. We were disappointed but the best thing was that we got to spend the day together. Grandby turns out is over an hour’s drive East of Montreal and was not accessible by transit.
In the past two years, Dad’s health worsened. His Parkinsons progressed rapidly in isolation during the pandemic. Complicated health issues developed over time leading to his need for long term care.
We’d like to thank the staff at the Rockyview Hospital, Foothills Hospital and the Brentwood Care Centre for their compassion and care for the past couple months. Thank you to our church friends for giving Dad laughter and memories cherished forever.
Dad, you will be missed.