with William Chan & Choo Seng Chan
(President and Member of the Gee How Oak Tin Association)

+ How long have you been in Chinatown? What was Chinatown like before?
William: I came to the Association to play mahjong in 2002 and became a member in 2005. I became a board director in 2010 and president in 2016. 

Choo Seng: I joined the Association in 2004. 

+ When was this building constructed? What was on this land before this building was built?
The current building was constructed in 1982.

This association is internationally connected — this is the Calgary chapter. It was founded in 1963, originally as the Yeung Association. It was originally a “small house” that the association bought. It then expanded into the Chan, Wu, Yeung Association.

+ Who are the current tenants and users of this building?
The association is on the second floor.

Great Taste Restaurant is on the first floor. We’ve had a restaurant or grocery on the first floor in the past few years. 

In the basement is a dancing and musical association.

People can come in, even if they’re not members of our association… They can come to play mahjong and sing karaoke. Some live in Chinatown and others live further away.

+ Who is the architect for this building?
It’s a Chinese architect, and the architect is the same for this trio of buildings: Gee How Oak Tin Association, Lung Kung Association Building, Leong Chong How Tong Association.

William Chan and Choo Seng Chan in front of the Gee How Oak Tin Association building, 2020.

+ Can you tell me about the history behind the building’s design development?
We have an elephant motif on our building. 5000 years ago, the elephant helped our ancestors to cultivate the land, so it’s a trademark for the association. 

+ Do you know of any major renovations or changes to the building since it was first constructed?
William has fixed the countertops and broken parts of the building. 


Photographs taken in 2020.