Mak and Mark: the century-old tales of two Nam Pak Hong families with the same surname

York Lo: Mak and Mark: the century-old tales of two Nam Pak Hong families with the same surname

In the early 20th century, Mak Kwong and Adolfo Mark were leading merchants in the Chinese medicine business in the traditional Chinese business district of Nam Pak Hong with global network of buyers and suppliers. Their Mak Kwong Kee and Yick Wo Yuen were neighbors on Bonham Strand West and both families had gone into the travel agency business and augmented their fortunes through real estate development.

The family of Mak Kwong and Mak Kwong Kee (麥廣記參茸)

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Left: tin box from Mak Kwong Kee featuring image of ginseng and its “Deer Horn” trademark (Carousell); Right: Mak Kwong Kee ad promoting its birds’ nests in Chinese newspaper in Canada in 1966 (Shing Wah Daily News, 1966-10-17)

Mak Kwong (麥廣), the founder of Mak Kwong Kee, also went by the name of Mak Pak-foon (麥伯寬) and was a native of Sansui in Guangdong province. The exact year Mak Kwong Kee was founded is unknown but according to one article, the family had been in the Chinese medicine business for over two centuries and its location in HK was originally at 49 Bonham Strand West. Based on the company brochure from the 1940s shown below, Mak Kwong Kee also had an affiliate by the name of Sang Lung Cheung (生隆昌) in Canton before 1949. In the 1950s and 1960s, Mak Kwong Kee was one of the leading Chinese medicine dealers in HK, selling traditional Chinese medicine products such as ginseng, deer horns and birds nest locally and also internationally to markets such as Canada through mail and sourcing its materials globally from countries such as New Zealand and Thailand.

Mak KwongMak Kwong Brochure Cover

Picture of Mak Kwong in Mak Kwong Kee’s brochure in the 1940s (Courtesy of Arthur Wong from his personal collection)

In October 1960, Mak Kwong died at the HK Sanatorium at the age of 70 and was buried at the Aberdeen Chinese Permanent Cemetery. His funeral at the HK Funeral Parlor was attended by the Who’s Who of the Nam Pak Hong community including Adolfo Mark and his son to be covered in the next section and also Kwok Chan, Woo Pak-foo (father in law of Audrey Eu) and Leung Kau-kui of Dah Chong Hong. (WKYP, 1960-10-3) He was survived by 9 daughters and 3 sons – Mak Kee-leung (麥杞良,who also went by the Chinese name of MakChor-hing麥楚卿), David Mak Ming-leung (麥銘良, also went by the Chinese name of麥大偉) and Mak Chai-leung (麥濟良), who succeeded him at Mak Kwong Kee.

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Picture of Mak Chor-hing and Mak Ming-leung with guests at the opening of Mak Kwong Kee’s new building at 73 Bonham Strand West in 1965 (KSEN, 1965-5-11)

In May 1965, Mak Kwong Kee opened its new building at 73 Bonham Strand West, The opening ceremony was attended by over 1000 guests including P.C. Woo (see article on Yakult), Ho Sin-hang and Ho Tim from Hang Seng Bank, Wu Yee-sun and Wu Kit-yee from Wing Lung Bank and also actors Ng Chor-fan and Lo Dun and martial arts masters Ng Siu-chung and Luk Chi-fu followed by a banquet with over 100 tables at the Ta Tung restaurant. (KSEN, 1965-5-11) The same year, Mak Kwong Kee also developed the 14-story Kwong Tak Building (廣德大樓) at 205-207 Hennessy Road in partnership with William Chandler & Co, a trading firm operated by William H. Chan, who owned a plastic factory (Exquisite Plastic Works, incorporate in 1959, dissolved in 2003), built the William Chandler Factory Building in Cheung Sha Wan and served on the board of Tung Wah and Po Leung Kuk. (WKYP, 1965-1-11)

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Left: David Mak with Indonesian flight attendant at the Kai Tak Airport in 1967 after his trip to Southeast Asia to promote his Montreal World Expo tour later in the year. (KSDN, 1967-2-24); Right: Wedding picture of Mak Chai-leung in 1965 (KSDN, 1965-12-15)

Outside of Mak Kwong Kee, David Mak also operated David Mak Travel Service (麥大偉旅行社) out of 73 Bonham Strand West which partnered with Canadian Pacific Airlines (later absorbed into Canadian Airlines) to organize group tours for HK and Southeast Asian customers to visit the Expo 67 in Montreal in 1967. He was also a director of Cathay Investment in Bahamas which opened the New Hong Kong Restaurant in Freeport, Bahamas in 1967. (KSDN, 1967-5-11)

As a firm, Mak Kwong Kee Ginseng & Deers’ Horn Co Ltd was incorporated in 1958 and dissolved in 2003. Mak Kwong Kee’s premise at 73 Bonham Strand West was re-developed into Grandview Commercial Centre in 1992.

In 2010, the children of Mak Chor-hing including Dr. Mak Kam-wing (麥錦榮) and Dr. Mak Pun-wing (麥本榮) donated HK$1 million to establish the Traditional Chinese Medicine Charity programme at the HKAC-HKBU Chinese Medicine Center run by the HK Anti-Cancer Society and the HK Baptist University in memory of their parents.

The family of Adolfo Mark (麥俊三)and Yick Wo Yuen (益和源)

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Obituary of Adolfo Mark in 1978 (KSDN, 1978-10-12)

A native of Toishan, Adolfo Mark Chun-sam (1893-1978) was educated at the teaching college Normal School of Kwangtung in Canton where he was the top student every year and returned to Toishan to teach after graduation. In 1917, he married Lam Fook-toa (林福桃) and together they went to Japan to further their studies before going to the US, Canada and Cuba, ultimately settling in Cuba where they lived for 15 years and made their first fortune.

In the 1930s he arrived in Hong Kong where he established Yick Wo Yuen in 1933 (although as a firm it not incorporated until 1960 and was dissolved in 2008) at 3 Bonham Strand West in Nam Pak Hong to deal in Chinese medicine. With his profits from Chinese medicine, he invested in other businesses. In the mid-1930s, he was a director of the National Commercial Bank started by the principals of The Sincere Co but unfortunately failed. (Commercial and Industrial HK, 1935; National Banking Yearbook, 1936)

Mark’s foray into real estate however was much more successful. In 1960, Mark incorporated Adolfo Mark Investment Co Ltd (麥俊三置業)to engage in property development and he was on the board of the HK Property Owners Association. In 1966, he built Fook Toa Mansion (福桃樓) at 8-12 Sung Wong Toi Road in memory of his late wife who had passed away in 1940. The first two tenants of the building which has around 4000 sq ft per floor were Pan Am Airways and the government’s Marriage Registry. Adolfo also developed two connected buildings at 39-43 Nga Tsin Wai Road and 28 Hau Wong Road which were leased to restaurants and other businesses for many years and owned other properties in the area, making him a major landlord in the district alongside fellow Chinese Cuban returnee Kwong Ming-kwong (who had the title of “Emperor of Kowloon City”). He also developed various other properties in To Kwa Wan and Tsim Sha Tsu including Adolfo Mansion (俊三樓) at 114-116 Austin Road which was built in 1967. (Apple Daily, 2009-5-8)

Outside of business, Adolfo Mark was very active in community affairs having served as director of the Tung Wah Hospital in 1934 and was a director of the Kowloon City District Kaifong Welfare Association and Lok Sin Tong and was a member of the building committee and honorary adviser of the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce. (HK Album, 1967)

In October 1978, Adolfo Mark died at the HK Sanatorium at the age of 85. His funeral committee was comprised of Sir Geoffrey Briggs (chief justice of HK and Brunei), Sir Kenneth Fung, Peter H. Sin, Judge Lo Hin-shing (see article on his nephew Ramon Lo), C.H. Lam and many others, which highlighted the connections and influence of the family.

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Left: W.W. Mak (first from the right) at the ribbon cutting ceremony of the first HK Tourism Festival in 1979. Left to right: Wong Yu-hing, Yip Shun-chung, Hilton Cheong-leen, Lee Chun-yong, Shum Choi-sang, Mak (KSEN, 1979-5-31); Right: Fook Toa Mansion

Adolfo was survived by 2 sons and a daughter (who settled in Canada). His eldest son Wei-WoonMark (麥維垣, 1918-2002, hereafter referred to as “W.W. Mak”) ran Mar Chark Travel Services (馬策旅行社), which was founded in 1948 (although as a firm it was not incorporated until 1969) by fellow Toishan native Y.F. Mar and was one of the first Chinese owned travel agencies to achieve IATA status in HK. As proprietor of Mar Chark, W.W. was the second chairman of the Federation of HK Travelers (renamed Federation of HK Chinese Travel Agents in 1994) from 1973 to 1977.

Adolfo’s second son Peter Mark Wei-hing (麥維慶, 1924-2000)was a solicitor with his own practice Peter Mark & Co who served as legal advisers to many medical associations and was on the board of the family firms Yick Wo Yuen, Mar Chack and Adolfo Mark Investment. Outside of business, he was on the board of the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals in 1969 and served as president of the HK Chinese Club in Central in 1995.

W.W.’s eldest son Oliver Hay Mark (麥希捷, 1939-) qualified as solicitor in HK in 1965 after finishing his legal studies in the UK. He joined his uncle’s law practice and married Sophie Lim (林素璧)the same year. (KSEN, 1965-9-6). In addition to practicing law, Oliver was also involved in the securities industry as executive director of Wardley and served as a councilor of the Stock Exchange of HK until 1995.

The Mark family has been closely involved with the Baptist Church for over three generations. Adolfo himself was on the school council of the Henrietta School of Baptist Church while his wife Lam Fook-toa was head of the charity department of the Kowloon Baptist Church and after her death, he donated a large assembly hall in her memory at the Church. Both W.W. and his son Oliver served on the board of the Kowloon City Baptist Church and Oliver was on the board of the Baptist Hospital from 1980 to 1994. (HK Who’s Who, 1994)

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Article and picture of Peter Mark and his family returning from a trip to Japan in 1971 (WKYP, 1971-4-15)

In the late 2000s, the Mark family netted over HK$1 billion through the sale of some of their properties. In 2008, the family sold three properties in To Kwa Wan and Tsim Sha Tsui for HK$659 million (of which Adolfo Mansion was sold for HK$305 million). In 2009, the family sold its property at 39 Nga Tsin Wai Road for HK$160 million to Chinachem which re-developed the site into Billionaire Luxe in 2016. In November of the same year, they sold their family residence at 2 Grampian Road for HK$260 million to the K. Wah Group.

This article was first posted on 9th November 2020.

Related Indhhk articles:

  1. Kun Wing Fook Medicine Co. (靳永福藥廠) and “Coconut Tree” brand carminative oil (椰樹牌驅風油)
  2. Ha Lung Hong (合隆行) and the New Zealand Deer Velvet Trade
  3. Yakult (益力多): 50 Years in Hong Kong
  4. Ramon Lo (羅鴻興) and Everlight Manufacturing Co (永明製造廠)
  5. Woo Ping (胡炳) – Weaving and Real Estate Pioneer
  6. Cho Shiu-chung (曹紹松, 1922-2011) – Real Estate Developer and Philanthropist
  7. Kin Yick Liong (建益隆) – Real Estate Developer from the 1960s
  8. The Wongs and the Hungs – Pre-War pioneers of HK real estate and philanthropists

 

 

 

 

 

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