Architects: Abugov Kaspar
1960s -1970s

Schematic rendering of the residential homes and gas station that stood here, according to the footprints indicated on the 1961 fire insurance maps.

The gas station depicted here is the old Texaco station at the corner of Centre Street and 4 Ave S.


Schematic rendering of the residential homes and garage that stood here, according to the footprints indicated on the 1911 fire insurance maps.


+ What’s your story? How long have you been in Chinatown?
What was Chinatown like then?
I was born and raised in Vancouver. I spent 20 years there in a Chinese small-business family and a lot of time in Chinatown for school, cultural lessons (eg. kung fu), helping relative’s businesses, and socially.

I then moved to Calgary in 1980; from 1980 – 2013 my life was void of any significant Chinese culture and language opportunities except family events. Since 2013, I’ve been involved with the Chinatown community especially after the Calgary Flood and helping with the Chinatown Street Festival. In 2015, I was asked by some Chinatown folks to help set up the Chinatown Business Improvement Area (BIA) where I became Vice Chair, then asked to become the Executive Director in 2017.

+ When was the Dragon City Mall building constructed?
In 1992 by Sam Switzer (now deceased). Due to the downturn of the economy mid-1990’s, the mall, which is comprised of individual retail condominium units, was sold in 1998  to many of the merchant business operators.

There are 3 stories with retail, services, several Tong Associations, and a major banquet restaurant on the top floor. There are 106 underground parking spots, separately condominium titled, owned by one owner.

Terry Wong inside Dragon City Mall, 2021.

+ Who are the current tenants and users of this building?
There are roughly between 100-200 units in the building and they’re all retail. Right now there’s about 65% ownership and 35% lease. But people are more interested in owning more (quantity of) units, rather than owning more beautiful units. It gets hard to pay for facility upgrades because people don’t want to contribute. There is a property management company that does the administrative work.

+ What was on this land before this building was built?
How was the land acquired?
It’s unclear exactly what was here on the land before Dragon City Mall was built… I’ve seen a photo of a single-story commercial retail building that was probably built in the 1960s. Before that, I recall a photo of a 1930’s structure —a  wood-frame building with pitched roof that was likely a corner shop. 

The land where the Dragon City Mall (and the Cultural Centre sits) and the Greyhound Bus Station were part of a land swap.

This land was owned by a private developer, Sam Switzer, who built the shopping centre. He had individual business tenants, but somewhere in the mid-1990s he fell into hardship and decided to sell the mall. He re-titled every unit and condominized it back in 1997.

+ What do you think the Dragon City Mall building means for the Calgary Chinatown community?

Dragon City Mall is an invaluable anchor retail for locals and visitors. The mall is a representation of the modern day, multi-level indoor shopping, dining, cultural experience as opposed to the single-storey, street front retail that dotted this environment since the early 20th Century. With the variety of retail and dining offerings, the Mall is everything Chinatown wrapped into one indoor place.


Some parts of what you have in your summary are not accurate.  For example, the Cultural Centre, the Dragon City Mall, and the Greyhound sites were never a part of any land swap. In fact, there was no land swapping involved at all. Very briefly, here’s what happened: Greyhound was never a part of any deal. They just walked away midway through the process.

The Dragon City Mall building was the head office of a trust company called Financial Trustco, which has a branch on the main floor currently occupied by Pan-Asia Travel. They also lease out office space to others, among them a law firm. At the final stage of the adoption of the current ARP, Financial Trustco wanted additional density similar to what Oxford Development had. Because Financial Trust could not contribute land due to its physical location, it paid cash in lieu for the additional density. After the ARP was formally adopted by the City Council, Financial Trustco was taken over by Canada Trust, which was in turn taken over by TD. For a short period, TD had both its current TD Chinatown Branch and the Canada Trust Branch open at the same time, right across the street from each other. TD then consolidated the two retail branches and closed the Canada Trust branch and moved the branch manager over to manage the current TD branch. 


The association is currently located in Dragon City Mall on the 3rd floor. There are two units, one more for mahjong and the other as a dedicated karaoke room. The association is 38 years old We used to be in the Canton Block, but then moved to Five Harvest Plaza.

Hoy Sun’s first location was in the space that is currently the “Dragon Pearl Association” located in the Canton Block at the corner of Centre Street S and 2nd Avenue. It used to be the Lim Association, then we fundraised and moved to a space within the Five Harvest Plaza. We then moved again into the basement of the Far East Plaza (which is currently the location of the 5 Cities Association). We then sold this space and then moved to Dragon City Mall. 

Originally we only had the side that currently houses the mahjong tables. As it wasn’t big enough, we fundraised again and moved next door as well. We raised the money through fundraising and donors and also through AGLC casino funding.


Photographs taken in 2020.