As settlements spread across the prairies in the early 1900's, one of the first and most essential places of business was the local restaurant, invariably owned and operated by a Chinese. Farmers came to town by horse-drawn wagons and buggies. Many lived as far away as twenty miles, and a trip to town meant an overnight stop, plus supper and breakfast. Even a trip of ten miles took at least two hours each way, which meant getting the noon meal in town.
The Chinese restaurant filled the bill. When the hamlet of Whiskey Gap was created, Huey Gum set up his restaurant there. He was well known in the area, since he had operated a restaurant in Woolford, our nearest shipping point, for a number of years. It was an unfortunate move for Huey. The extension of the railroad meant that there were fewer farmers hauling for a long distance. A round trip could be made in half a day so there were very few demands for meals. Also the depression set in and money was scarce. Even Huey's fifty cent meals were expensive.
Huey Gum had a pool table in the back room, and sold chocolate bars, cigarettes, and other confectionery items.
Huey hung on for several years, but finally had to sell out. He told my parents that he was going back to China to retire.
What a lonely life he led! Home was the back of his restaurant, which was open for business for at least sixteen hours every day of the week. He had no one of his own to talk to and the English language was as much a mystery to him as Chinese is to us.
On one occasion he and my father met to settle up a few small accounts with each other. When they were both satisfied, Huey said something which sounded like "We allee ski vare".
After struggling with this for some time, Dad finally realized Huey was saying "Well, all square".
But Huey was unfailingly cheerful and obliging. He was also absolutely honest, and helpful in any way possible.
Whiskey Gap has had its share of good, fair, and bad citizens. No one will quarrel with the statement that Huey was one of the good ones.
Excerpts from the Lethbridge Herald Fareham - July 6, 1929 - Huey Gum has rented his store at Woolford, and expects to open his new restaurant here shortly.
Fareham - July 25, 1929 Huey Gum is giving a dance next Friday, August 2, in his new building.
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