Gunner Wong, former co-owner of the Diner’s Rendezvous restaurant, died June 10, closing a chapter of Nanaimo’s history. He was 91.
Wong was born in Nanaimo in 1923 and ran the Canton Restaurant in the city’s old Chinatown and the Modern Café with his brothers, Henry and Chuck, until they opened the Diner’s Rendezvous restaurant in 1956.
Wong’s daughter, Janice Carless-Jones, described her father as a jack of all trades – entrepreneur, chef, handyman and builder – who, among other life achievements, won awards for his culinary expertise.
The Rendezvous, located in a former bank at the foot of Wallace Street in downtown Nanaimo, needed additional interior space for the kitchen. That required blasting a rock bluff behind the building.
“He had to get his blasting ticket, so he went to the course and got it,” said Carless-Jones. “He let her rip, but he didn’t put enough mattresses on so some of the rocks escaped and smashed a few windows, a car window and windows in a pharmacy that was on the corner.”
Carless-Jones said over the years hundreds of people, including many young people who got their first jobs there, were employed at the Rendezvous. Wong managed the restaurant until it closed and he retired in 2000.
“Dad did everything,” said Carless-Jones. “He was a jack of all trades. If he wanted to learn something, he’d go to night school and take some classes and get certified and off he went. He learned a lot and we learned a lot from him as well.”
A celebration of life will held Saturday (June 21) at 1 p.m. in the Vancouver Island Conference Centre’s Mount Benson ballroom.