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Key Number: HS 27183
Site Name: Chinese Free Masons Building
Other Names:
Site Type: 0202 - Social and Recreational: Club or Lodge
0412 - Mercantile/Commercial: General Retail Store


ATS Legal Description:
Twp Rge Mer
9 21 4

Address: 310 - 2 Avenue S
Number: 10
Street: 3 S
Avenue: 2 S
Town: Lethbridge
Near Town:


Type Number Date View


Plan Shape: Rectangular
Storeys: Storeys: 2
Foundation: Basement/Foundation Wall Material: Concrete
Superstructure: Nailed Frame
Superstructure Cover: Brick - Bond: Stretcher
Roof Structure: Flat
Roof Cover:
Exterior Codes: Wall Design and Detail: Arcading
Wall Design and Detail: Decorated Parapet
Wall Design and Detail: Painted Design
Wall Design and Detail: Upper Storey Door
Window - Structural Opening Shape: Segmental
Window - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Head: Voussoirs
Window - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Material: Brick
Window - Sill Type: Plain Lug Sill
Window - Sill Material: Brick
Window - Special Types: Blind
Main Entrance - Location: 2 or More (Facade)
Main Entrance - Structural Opening Shape: Flat
Main Entrance - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Head: Other
Main Entrance - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Sides: Moulded
Main Entrance - Trim Within Structural Opening - Head: Flat Transom, Single Light
Exterior: Brick and wood facade, tongue-in-groove vertical siding, central main door dividing two large display type windows, small side door exterior entrance to top floor. Recessed covered wood balcony.
Rear partial basement dug out. Brick and wood on front facade. Recessed covered second storey balcony. Chinese inscriptions.
Interior: N/A
Environment: Building occupies about 5/8 of lot. South elevation, lot is lower than street level. Building is part of a distinctive and historical block of Lethbridge, immediately west of Old Firehall #1 and the Central Business District of an earlier era. (prior to WWI). Rear yard is dug out lower than grade.
Condition: Structure: Good. Repair: Good.
Alterations: N/A


Construction: Construction Date:
Usage: Usage Date:
Chinese Free Masons Building.
Owner: Owner Date:
Chee Kung Ton Chinese Freemasons
Architect: N/A
Builder: N/A
Craftsman: N/A
History: The Chinese Free Masons Building forms an integral part of Chinatown history in Lethbridge. Also known as the Chi Kong Tong, the Freemasons were formed in 1922 and in 1924 they raised funds through Canada-wide donations and constructed the building under the trusteeship of Joe Fong, Jung Shung Yen and Mah Shue. The building was located on a site previously occupied by wood frame dwelling owned by Lung Wing which was occupied by Chinese 'sojourners' between 1913 and 1918. The building was the site of several large Masonic Conventions, including the dedication convention of October, 1924. The second floor of the building was used for both the secret meetings of the Masons as well for special school room for the children of the members. The Dart Coon Club, a special inner lodge of privileged members, met secretly in the basement in the early years. The lodge and its members formed one of the two most important societies in Lethbridge Chinatown, the other being the Chinese National League or Kuo Min Tang, located across the street. Together they formed the political and ideological polarities that characterized the Chinese community between 1905 and 1925. The Chinese Free Masons Building is the most unique structure remaining in Lethbridge Chinatown. Like many buildings of the earlier 'boom' town era it has its own frontier qualities of construction. The front facade however has some distinctive features including a recessed balcony and a complex of semi-circular openings or windows. It is a full brick facade rising two stories to a pallisade-type roofline. The second floor interior is fully preserved as it was designed in 1924, with the oak podium and pedestals with mounted lights. The building may be said to serve as a foil stylistically as it sits opposite the austerity of the frontier facade of the Chinese National League Building. * * * DRAFT PRESS RELEASE The Honourable Dennis Anderson, Minister of Culture, announced today that the Chinese Free Mason's Building in Lethbridge has been designated a Provincial Historic Resource. The development of Alberta from 1885 to 1914 included the immigration of various people into the province with unique contributions to the cultural diversity of rural and urban Alberta. The Chinese began to arrive in 1885 following the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway. By 1914 Chinese communities had been established in all of Alberta's major cities including Lethbridge. Encountering a rather mixed response, the Chinese were admired for their economic contributions, their cleverness in garden irrigation, and the unique character of their stores and festivals. Their economic role in the Lethbridge area extended beyond the standard operation of small retail stores, laundries and restaurants for which they were known in most Alberta towns. Around Lethbridge, Chinese market gardeners flourished. By 1902, some 300 Chinese were involved in market gardening on plots averaging 25 acres each. One of the most interesting structures remaining from this community in Lethbridge is the Chinese Free Masons Building constructed in 1924. The distinctive features of the front facade include a recessed balcony and a series of semi-circular openings (in some cases frame windows) located immediately behind. It is capped with a palisade-type roofline. The second floor interior reveals, fully preserved, the characteristics designed in 1924: oak podium and pedestals with mounted lights. A meeting room for the Chinese Free Masons, it was also occupied by students of a Chinese language school. The Chinese Free Masons or Chi Kong Tong, was a voluntary fraternal society formed in 1862 in Barkerville, British Columbia, was the oldest Chinese association in Canada. The Chinese Free Mason's Building is threfore closely assocated with the history of a distinctive and long lasting cultural community in southern Alberta.


Status: Status Date:
Occasional Use
Occasional Use
Designation Status: Designation Date:
Provincial Historic Resource
Register: N/A
Record Information: Record Information Date:
K. Williams 1989/06/23


Alberta Register of Historic Places: 4665-0486
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