434 Richmond Street, Wong’s

My Trip +

Richmond str. looking North from York


Wong's cafe



Built in 1866 reflecting an Italianate architectural style, this building was first occupied by Robert Lewis, a famous manufacturer of stained glass and a dealer in wall paper and house decorations. The bay window on the second floor still testifies to the stained glass business of its first tenant. In 1878, and again in 1879, Robert Lewis was elected Mayor of the city. The building housed stained glass and wall paper until 1904. In 1914 it became Wong's Café, a long-time favourite dining spot for Londoners.

Lem Wong was an early Chinese immigrant to London (ON), who had emigrated in 1896 at the age of 15 from the district of Taisan in Southern China. Wong had initially opened a laundry on Dundas Street in 1903 and later successfully ran a stall at the market. When Wong first opened the restaurant, he introduced supper dances, brought in bands and arranged for the radio station CJGC (the former CFPL) to broadcast from the café on Friday nights. Wong's Café was part of the tradition started by the dance halls and supper clubs of the First World War era.

Lem Wong never forgot his humble beginnings and, knowing how hard life could be for the outcast, at Christmas he famously hosted dinners for the less fortunate. London was a city that, by the beginning of the Second World War, was still considerably class conscious. The distinctions between classes, which had been established after the American Civil War and the oil boom, remained entrenched. Membership in the upper classes, however, was now based on money rather than, as it had been earlier, on church affiliation. Lem Wong was New Money, but fortunately he practised the philanthropic habits associated with the Old Money of the nineteenth century.


434 Richmond Street
London, Ontario
N6A 3C9