It became the early Seventies, and the board of administrators of the Port Arthur Curling Club had trouble on their fingers. Business on the rink in Thunder Bay, Ontario, was going properly. Despite opposition from some other curling membership just a ten-minute force away, Port Arthur had its very own established institution of regulars, way to its nearly century-length history on this small town in Canada’s remote north. Plus, curling—an ice recreation that looks a bit like lawn bowling, except that players use brooms to “sweep” a stone towards its goal—is arguable as primary to Canadian identity as maple syrup or hockey.
But it turned into Port Arthur’s eating room and restaurant enterprise on the second ground that afflicted the board. They had tried going for walks the eating place themselves, a big dining vicinity with home windows overlooking the ice beneath. But it wasn’t making a living. Over time, strolling the eating place had come to be more trouble than it changed into really worth.
One day, some of the board contributors stopped in at the Dragon Room bar, then a popular local Chinese eating place. As standard, the area was packed—clients flocking to the eating room for the dry spareribs (“served with spice salt and lemon wedges, $1.Ninety”) and char sure bok toy (“a true favorite!”).
Chinese food, via then, had grown to be one of the maximum famous cuisines now not most effective in Thunder Bay, but throughout North America. For a number of the metropolis’ in the main blue-collar citizens, going to a “Western” restaurant didn’t make sense. They should make meatloaf or turkey sandwiches themselves at domestic. But Chinese restaurants had been wonderful—never thoughts whether the dishes on the menu, like sweet-and-bitter chook balls or chop suey, really originated from China. The eating places in shape with the brand new, more cosmopolitan worldview Canadians had been beginning to expand, helped along by way of Nixon’s go to China (wherein he famously sampled from a platter of Peking duck) and the opening of Canada’s doorways to immigration from China, Europe, and different components of the world.
Seeing the success of the Dragon Room gave the board members an idea. They approached its supervisor, a younger guy named Ling Lee, with a proposition: Would he recollect taking up the curling club’s eating place?
Lee changed into hardly a stranger to bold actions, his daughter, Norina Karschti, told me. At 15, her father had followed his father from Guangdong to Saskatoon, notwithstanding no longer knowing any English. He slowly learned the language and, some years later, moved to Ontario on a lark. He’d been proven an image of a pretty young Chinese woman and became advised she lived in Kenora, Ontario. So he set out seeking out her. By the time he turned 19, he and the woman inside the picture, May Lee, were married.
The couple settled in Thunder Bay, wherein he located work in Chinese eating places. By his early thirties, Lee became dealing with the Dragon Room. And by the time the Port Arthur club board approached him, he becomes geared up for an area of his own. So he stated yes. In 1973, Ling Lee’s in Port Arthur Curling Club opened.