The Broadway Restaurant in Yorkton, also called the Broadway Café, was a longtime local institution serving Chinese and Canadian food. It was operated in the early days by Joe Mak, an immigrant from China who had come to Canada with his younger brother to work as cooks for the crews expanding the railroad westward. The younger brother had left his wife and three sons in China when he came to Canada. The middle son's name was Lai Foo. Lai Foo never really knew his father, who came home to China but died soon after. But he was a favourite nephew of Joe Mak – Uncle Joe – who would play a major role in his life.
The story of Lai Foo’s early life is told in a book called Life of Lai, written by Carl Mark, the second-oldest son. It recalls his story from the time Lai was 13 years old and entered the military college in Bejing in the pre-communist years, and his rise to being selected for officer training, and becoming an officer in the military police.
But it was wartime and his family, Uncle Joe in Canada in particular, didn’t want Lai involved in war. He arranged for his immigration to Canada, all described in great detail in the book, which ends when Lai arrived in Canada in 1950.
The podcast continues the story from there, when he was no longer Lai Foo, but was known as Bob Mark who, for the next 43 years, operated restaurants in Yorkton and briefly in Hanna, Alberta.
Bob's father (Mark Shek Gong), left, and Uncle Joe (Mak Shkek Foon), in Yorkton in 1940.