Thank you to Kim Fung (Sien Lok Society of Calgary), Tommy Y. Ng (Bison Historical Services Ltd., Sien Lok Society of Calgary), Edward Gee and Bill Gee for sharing this important piece of Alberta’s history.
The Sun Greenhouse Company was a vegetable farm that operated from 1927 to 1973 in Banff National Park, specifically at a former location in Anthracite, an abandoned coal-mining town that existed from 1886 to 1904. Thriving for two generations on 10.4 acres of land, it supplied needed produce to soldiers stationed in Banff during WWII, the Banff Springs Hotel, Chateau Lake Louise, and various local restaurants, and grocery and food outlets in the Bow Valley (Lake Louise to Canmore). It is believed that anyone who dined in Banff from 1927 to 1973 will most likely have eaten a product from the Sun Greenhouse Company.
What made this business unique is that it was located on non-arable land leased within the Rocky Mountains, and owned and operated by Chinese immigrants living under the racist restrictions of the 1923 Chinese Immigration Act, also known as the infamous Chinese Exclusion Act. The Act forbade Chinese immigrants from many professions, including farming or owning crown land, yet the Chinese flourished in the produce growing industry (specifically in BC), even under additional provincial discriminatory restrictions (Chan 2016 and 2017). Read more