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Manie Opera Society Building


Other Names:
Canton Chop Suey
Han Dynasty Importique
Kwong On Lung & Co.
Wing Wah Chong Co.

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Manie Opera Society is a two-storey, flat roofed commercial building with stucco on brick exterior. It occupies a commercial lot in the heart of the Chinatown district of Lethbridge’s downtown.

Heritage Value
The Manie Opera Society building is significant for its association with the commercial development of the Chinatown district of Lethbridge and reflects the diversity of Lethbridge’s and Alberta’s heritage, architecture and history. The building is presently the oldest building in Lethbridge’s Chinatown. Moreover, the building still conveys the feeling of the historic Chinatown district. Today the remaining Chinatown buildings stand as stark reminders of the difficulties overcome by early Chinese immigrants.

The Chinese were the earliest non-European immigrants to southern Alberta, establishing themselves in the 1880’s and 1890’s. The historic Chinatown district, located in downtown Lethbridge, evolved with the emerging immigrant Chinese community. At the turn of the 20th century the area offered social and economic support to Chinese Canadians across southern Alberta. On 25 December 1907, a riot occurred in Lethbridge where a Chinese restaurant on Round Street (5 Street South) was destroyed and members of the Chinese community threatened. Around the time of that event, the Manie Opera Society building on 2nd Avenue South was constructed, off the main business district of Lethbridge.

The building has seen several uses over the years; the first tenant was Wing Wah Chong Co., Chinese goods store. Wing Wah Chong was a president of the Chinese National League in Lethbridge in the early part of the 20th century.

During the late 1910’s, the Kwong On Lung & Co., a Chinese grocery, and the Pekin Cafe operated in the building. By 1927, the Canton Chop Suey restaurant was in operation. Due to discrimination, employment opportunities for Chinese Canadians were limited and restaurants and market gardening provided two avenues of employment. During the 1920’s there were 25 Chinese gardeners who went through Lethbridge selling vegetables door to door from horse-drawn wagons. These gardeners, primarily single men, resided in the buildings in Chinatown.

More recently the building has continued to provide a venue supporting the Chinese Canadian and Lethbridge community with such uses as: the New China Chop Suey, the Han Dynasty Importique, and the Chinese Canadian cultural organization called the Manie Opera Society.

Character-Defining Elements
The character defining elements as expressed in the form, massing and materials of the 1907 two-storey building, such as:

-The original materials: stucco on brick on the front facade.
- The flat roof with parapet
- The pattern, style and construction of all wooden windows.
- The stone sills and arches above windows.
- The pattern, style, and construction of wooden door on the eastern side of the front facade.
- The minor cornice on second storey.
- The original signage on parapet in Chinese characters (ghost signage)


Street Address: 318 - 2 Avenue South
Community: Lethbridge
Boundaries: Lot 9, Block 19, Plan 4353S
Contributing Resources: Structures: 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel

Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
49.696598 -112.84254 Digital Maps NAD83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type
5506527.60 367125.11 Digital Maps NAD83


Recognition Authority: Local Governments (AB)
Designation Status: Municipal Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2014/02/03

Historical Information

Built: ca. 1907
Significant Date(s) 1907_present
Theme(s) Developing Economies : Trade and Commerce
Peopling the Land : Migration and Immigration
Historic Function(s): Commerce / Commercial Services : Shop or Wholesale Establishment
Community : Social, Benevolent or Fraternal Club
Current Function(s):

Additional Information

Object Number: 4664-0323
Designation File:
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File:
Website Link:
Data Source: Planning & Development Services City Hall, 910 - 4 Avenue South Lethbridge, AB, T1J0P6
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