Iconic neon Ming's sign rescued in Saskatoon

Henry van Seters and Dave Denny rescued the Ming’s Kitchen sign after it served 43 years, lighting the way for Saskatonians in need of steaming plates of noodles, sticky rice, and crispy ginger beef.

Now there's a bright idea to create a neon museum

The Ming's Kitchen sign was in jeopardy, as the building is being torn down, but it has been saved. (Henry van Seters )

Neon signs evoke a time and place, but there's a concern they will go dark forever.   

"We used to have a glorious culture of neon signs," Henry van Seters, who has been photographing and painting Saskatoon's neon signs since the late 1970s, said in an interview with CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning.

It's art. They are art. It's public art.- Henry van Seters

He and friend Dave Denny recently took down the iconic Ming's Kitchen sign after it served some 43 years, lighting the way to steaming plates of noodles, sticky rice and crispy ginger beef.

"It was a timely rescue, I think," said van Seters.

The Ming's sign may hang again one day as part of a neon museum. (Courtesy Henry van Seters)

Ming's on the move

The old Ming's location is being torn down. Denny said old stuff like the Ming's sign isn't honoured enough in the city.

That's what is important to me is helping tell our stories.- Dave Denny 

"This is a chance to save a sort of touch stone so that people can tell their stories and remember what it is to have had a childhood in Saskatoon," Denny said.

The Ming's sign was not an easy save, according to van Seters. The owners were happy to hand it over, but it took several attempts, he said.

Denny and van Seters are not easily dissuaded. They were the driving force behind saving Saskatoon's historic Perehudoff murals from the wrecking ball.

Neon museum 

Denny and van Seters are unsure what to do with the Ming's sign next, but said there could be a bright future for it and some of the other great examples of neon that once graced the city streets.

"It's art. They are art. It's public art," stated van Seters.

They said they have a firm belief that public art should be free to all and are now in the preliminary stages of exploring a neon museum, much like one that exists in Edmonton. While the final form of this effort remains fluid, there is a solid commitment to keep these signs and the moments they represent alive.

"That's what is important to me is helping tell our stories and connect to the past," said Denny.

A worker adds 10 new signs to Edmonton's Neon Sign Museum at 104th Street and 104th Avenue. (Submitted by City of Edmonton)


Danny Kerslake is an award-winning journalist who has worked in radio stations across Western Canada. In his career with CBC Saskatchewan, Danny has reported from every corner of the province and has lived and worked in Saskatoon, Regina and Prince Albert. Danny is a newsreader and digital AP for CBC Saskatoon.

with files from Saskatoon Morning