Jack and Pauline Leong

Pauline Leong
Written by Canmore Museum

The first time we heard about Canmore was from our Aunt Mary Leeworthy, who wanted to sell her cafe business to us. My parents, Jack and Pauline, looked the place over and it was decided that my father, my brother, Jimmy, and I (Audrey), would run the cafe on a trial basis while my mother, sister, Beverley, and brother, Dick continued to run the cafe we had in Magrath, AB.

The year was 1949, horses roamed the main street. Canmore was a coal mining town and there was a lot of new construction starting up in the Spray Lakes region.

Business was good and the people were friendly so after a three month period, my parents bought the cafe. Both of them were noted for their cooking expertise. Jack was the chef at St. Michael’s Hospital and the Marquis Hotel in Lethbridge, the Banff Springs Hotel, the Prince of Wales Hotel in Waterton Lakes and at Brewsters’. He was noted for his excellent cuisine and his light touch in pastries and pies. His apple pie was famous. Pauline was also noted for her baking and ethnic cooking. Both of them believed in serving generous meals in quality and quantity. 

Because of the good cooking and homey atmosphere, all the crews from Calgary Power, Westinghouse, McGregors, and a host of others ate all their meals at the cafe and took lunches also. The cafe wasn’t big so all the crews ate in shifts starting at 5:30 in the morning.

Jack was an avid hunter and fisherman and got trophies for big game and trout. He did some guiding on the side when he could spare the time. Both he and Pauline were noted for their generosity. They took in many teenagers and helped people down on their luck with both food and money until they got back on their feet.

The old cafe was located where the Canmore Post Office now stands and when it was completely destroyed by fire in March, 1957, the customers, friends and neighbours rallied around the family who had lost almost all their possessions and held a shower for them.

My mother Pauline has always been an extremely generous and friendly person and used to give the high school students twenty-five cents to listen to their favorite tunes on the jukebox. After the fire, the students of Canmore High held a “two-bit” day for the folks and presented them with a chrome table and chair set. These generous acts were never forgotten by the family.

A new cafe was built along the highway with the addition of six cabins in 1957 and it was business as usual until the fall of 1967 when the Alberta Government bought Pauline and Jack out because the new Trans Canada Highway was going through their property.

Jack went to cook at the King Edward Hotel in Banff and Pauline baked at the Banff Springs Hospital. Both retired and remained in Canmore. Jack passed away in 1986. 

Pauline is in her mid-eighties and still picks mushrooms, cooks and bakes, feeds her birds, gardens, plays cards, goes to garage sales and is a very active senior citizen. 

All four of the children married with two living in British Columbia, one in Edson, and one in Canmore. The family ties are very strong and the family gets together on special occasions so Pauline can enjoy her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.


Pauline Leong


In Canmore Seniors at the Summit, ed. Canmore Seniors Association, 2000, p.163-164.

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