Lee’s Food Market

Edmonton, Alberta

Lees’ Food Market, 9204 95 Avenue in the Strathearn Neighbourhood, Edmonton

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Lee’s Food Market is a commercial building on a prominent corner in the historic Strathearn neighbourhood  at the top of bank, along the North Saskatchewan River. The building consists of a one-storey 1948 corner store, a 1959 one-storey addition and a 1965 second floor addition.

The building  was added to the Inventory of Historic Resources in Spring 2022. The first phase of the project is to renovate the rear of the store for a new retail space. The City of Edmonton Corner Store Project has contributed to the work. The building now qualifies for designation as a municipal historic resource. When it is designated, the exterior will be repaired and restored to its original 1965 condition when the last renovations and addition were completed.

Architectural History
Lee’s Food Market is valued for its longevity and continuity as a neighbourhood corner store, since it was originally constructed in 1948. There have been several additions including the 1959 one-storey addition in an empty lot immediately west of the original store, followed in 1965 by the construction of a second storey on the 1959 addition  that was completed in conjunction with complete reconstruction of the storefront façade.

Lee Family History
Lee’s Food Market is valued for the excellent International Style of the 1965 addition and storefront reconstruction. This is exemplified by the flat roofs, rectilinear composition, continuous ribbon windows of the second floor and the large expanses of glass in the storefront. As a local touch, there is extensive use of decorative cut field stone along the base of the storefront, which was a common façade material in Edmonton in the 1950s and 1960s. The windows and doors are composed of extruded aluminum components, common for commercial developments at the time.

Lee’s Food Market is valued for its association with the Lee Family. All those family members who are associated with the building and with Lee’s Food Market between 1951 and 1982 are listed here:

  • Tom Lee and wife See Pui Lee, Stanley’s grandparents. Tom came to Canada in the 1920’s and worked as a chef on the railroad. See Pui Lee took Stanley, born in 1937, from their home region in China, Toi Shan/Hoi Ping, to Hong Kong when Stanley was 12 years old, at the time of the Chinese Revolution when Communist leader Mao Zedong declared the creation of the People’s Republic of China. Tom Lee joined his brother James in operating the Lee’s Food Market grocery store after 1951.
  • Stanley Lee was the grandson of Tom Lee and arrived in Edmonton in 1954 at the age of 16. Tom summoned Stanley to help him run the store. Presumably he worked part time because he attended Victoria Composite High School to complete his education. At age 18, Stanley purchased season’s tickets to the Edmonton Eskimos. There is a bronze plaque with his name in Commonwealth Stadium recognizing when he purchased season seats in 1956.
  • In 1958, Stanley retuned to Hong Kong where he married Donna. They returned to Edmonton and Tony was born in 1959. His sister Cindy was born in 1961. Donna was the manager of the store.
  • James Lee was the brother of Tom. It appears that he was the first owner of Lee’s Food market, first reported in Henderson’s in 1951. A few years later, James decided to return to Hong Kong and sold the store to Tom. It is assumed that James bought the Shoprite Food Market (Henderson’s 1949-50), the first occupant of the 1948 building. Lee’s Food Market first appears in Henderson’s on 1951.
  • Ben Lee was James’ grandson. Ben and his father ran Ben’s Grocery nearby in Bonnie Doon.
  • George Yee was a cousin to James and Tom. He is noted in Henderson’s as an occupant of Lee’s Food Market in the late 1950s. He helped out working in the store.
  • Dale Lee is Stanley’s younger brother who came to Canada with their mother and sister in 1967-68. He is reported to be the operator of Lee’s Food Market in the 1974 Henderson’s
  • Donna Lee, Stanley’s wife and mother of Tony and Cindy, died after returning to Hong Kong in 1972 for medical reasons.

Lee’s Food Market is valued for its association with the Edmonton Chinese Community. Around 1982, the Lee’s sold the building to Teachers’ Investment. This ownership lasted approximately one year. It is reported that Chinese Businessmen’s Association became the owner in 1984 and retained ownership until at least the 1990s.

The Architects of the 1965 Renovations and Addition
Lee’s Food Market is valued for its association with the architectural firm, Sinclair Skakun Naito. They are important Edmonton firm between the late 1950s and the 1970s, when Casey Skakun left the practice.

Donald Sinclair, AAA#222, Registered May 6, 1953, UBC Graduate 1951
Casey Skakun, AAA#297, Registered June 18, 1958, UBC Graduate 1957
Joseph Naito, AAA#298, Registered June 18, 1958, UBC Graduate 1957


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Donald Sinclair was president of the Alberta Association of Architects in 1968-69. He joined the firm Skakun Naito within their first year as a partner.

Casey Skakun was born in Vegreville, Alberta on September 21, 1933 to parents Rachel and Kasian Skakun, who raised Casey and his two sisters in Edmonton, Alberta. He studied architecture at UBC in Vancouver, marrying Sandi (Alexandra Kostynuk) in 1956, a year before graduation. He embarked on his career in an architectural partnership with Don Sinclair and UBC classmate, Joe Naito. In 1974, Casey joined Jim Wensley in a partnership that evolved over years to be Wensley Skakun Webster Fry Rodrigues. From 1985 through 1999 Casey built and led the Infrastructure Team with Alberta Public Works Supply and Services. Casey was highly respected during his architectural career and was recognized with an Alberta Achievement Award in Architecture, as a Fellow in the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, as a Fellow in Construction Specifications Canada, also receiving the associations highest honor when he received his Life Member Award in 2003 and as a Life Member of the Alberta Association of Architects in 2014; Casey died in 2021.

Joe Naito was an architect who practiced for over forty years in Edmonton. He was born and raised in Kelowna, BC, and studied architecture at the University of British Columbia, graduating in 1957. In 1978, he was named a Fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, and he was awarded a Life Membership in the Alberta Association of Architects in 1999, the year he moved back to Kelowna. He died in Kelowna in 2010. Joe was president of the Alberta Association in 1976-79