A Part of St. Regis History Stops by for a Visit
August 8, 2012
The St. Regis Hotel will be celebrating its 100th Anniversary in March 2013 and recently, we proudly hosted a visit from a legendary former hotel guest, Larry Kwong. Now 89 years old, Larry Kwong is a legend of hockey as the first player of Asian heritage to play in the NHL. He suited up for the New York Rangers in 1948 after leading their farm team in scoring the season before. While that was the only NHL game he ever played, he had broken the colour barrier and was given the key to New York’s Chinatown as a symbol of the community’s pride.
Larry learned how to play hockey while growing in Vernon, BC as the son of local grocery store owners. After a successful hockey start with the famous Trail Smoke Eaters, he joined the Vancouver St. Regis Hockey Team in 1943. During this time in Vancouver, he stayed at the St. Regis Hotel and worked part-time at a coffee shop down the street.
His stay in Vancouver was cut short when he was drafted into the Canadian Armed Forces but he continued to develop his hockey skills playing in the Armed Forces league in Alberta.
Larry’s visit to the St. Regis was the first time he’s been back to the hotel since he stayed here in 1943-44 and while much has changed, Larry’s memories of staying at the hotel and playing for the Vancouver St. Regis were sharp. He even recalled meeting Cyclone Taylor, who was involved as a coach with the Vancouver St. Regis. It was a pleasure to show what the St. Regis has become in the nearly 70 years since he stayed here.
We’d like to thank Larry Kwong for visiting and Chad Soon, who helped set the visit up. We’ve invited Larry back to visit us on our 100th next year and will look forward to the release of “China Clipper”, a documentary about Larry Kwong that’s being released later this year.