CLOVER LIVING / CHINESE UNITED CHURCH
The Chinese United Church's historic facade was preserved in the construction of the new 16-story building on the left.
Oi Kwan Manor / CHINESE UNITED CHURCH
Spearheaded by the Oi Kwan Foundation, as part of the Chinese United Church's endeavors, the 11-story senior residence building was constructed adjacent to the church.
CHINESE MISSION / CHINESE UNITED CHURCH
Architect of the Chinese United Church: Maxwell Bates
The Chinese United Church was constructed in 1953.
Calgary's previous mayor, Thomas Underwood, provided land for the 2-storey brick building to be constructed.
In 1912, the first Chinese branch of the YMCA in Canada was established here.
WITH GRACE SU, DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS AT CLOVER LIVING
+ Can you tell me a little bit about the history behind its design development and construction?
Before 2012, the first building was used as subsidized senior housing. After the second building was built, Oi Kwan Place offered 35 senior subsidized housing units, and 94 supportive living units
+ What was the decision behind the building’s design? (Including to preserve and integrate the church facade?)
The Chinese United Church had the vision to provide supportive services to Chinese older adults in the Chinatown area, where they would also have convenient access to church services.
The church is a historical heritage site for both Chinatown and Calgary, with a history of over 110 years. While the church’s gym was knocked down to build the second building to provide independent and supportive living units, the church has been preserved with no change to its facade.
+ What is the extent of the outdoor area around the building and how is it used for activities?
The backyard of Clover Living extends to the Sien Lok Garden which provides a safe circular green walking pathway for older adults and green space for tai chi, pet visits, lawn bowling or casual gatherings with friends and visitors. We also have gardening programs, BBQs, outdoor concerts in the backyard. Before COVID, we had held community events in the park area for the older adults to enjoy great food, entertainment and social connections. During the pandemic, we used the outdoor space for outdoor visitations, gardening and socially distanced concerts.
+ Do you know of any major renovations or changes to the building since it was first constructed?
The first building was renovated to have a similar aesthetic as the new building. The basement has also been converted into a large room with HVAC to be used as an exercise and flex room for programming. The kitchen has been renovated to be more welcoming and exciting as an open-style kitchen, and also to shorten the time to bring hot food to the tables.
+ What do you think is important about Clover Living and the Chinese United Church?
What do both of the buildings mean for the Chinatown community?
The Chinese United Church is an architectural icon and historical site for the community. It is also a place of gathering, of bringing community together. Clover Living has become a respectable caring community where the Chinese older adults thrive, live happily and enhance their quality of life. Clover Living has earned two community choice awards as the Best Senior Retirement Living in 2019 and 2021 from StarMetro and Consumer Choice Award, a reflection of how the community feels about its culture, services and contributions to the community.
HISTORIC BUILDING PHOTOGRAPHS
OI KWAN FOUNDATION, CHINESE UNITED CHURCH, CHINESE MISSION & the YMCA
The top photograph from Oi Kwan Foundation’s archives shows the Chinese Mission structure, used as the gym and recreational facilities for the church, that would ultimately be demolished to build the new building. The following images show the hockey team of the first Chinese YMCA in Calgary.
The bottom photographs depict the first senior living facilities built by the Chinese United Church / Oi Kwan Foundation, under construction in 1976 and in 1993.
“Across the street from that house was the Chinese Mission. Behind the mission there was a skating rink that we enjoyed. We seemed to think it was okay to just go into the basement of the Mission to put our skates on. Looking back it was the kitchen of the men who lived in there. They never seemed to mind. The skating rink area is now Sen Lok Park.” – Joan McFetridge (DoFoo), former Chinatown resident