A Tribute to Chinese Laborers from SF

About two month ago, one morning, one of my tennis friends said to me “I saw an article about your coming presentation on the newspaper today.” The next day, he brought me a clipping of the article from SF Chronicle. It was the first time I read the article, but it was only recently that I found it online. Carl Nolte, a renowned writer of a weekly column, Native Son, for SF Chronicle, contacted us in mid-March about the story of Chinese laborers from San Francisco. It was published on March 20th, just a week before our free MESS lecture … Continue reading A Tribute to Chinese Laborers from SF

Chinese History of Alaska’s Canning Industry

Katherine Ringsmuth, a historian and a professor at University of Alaska, first introduced me to Jeff Chen who is a video producer for Alaska Insight, a public affairs show on Alaska Public Media. Jeff was interested in doing a story on the contribution of Asian cannery workers in salmon canning industry, starting with the Chinese workers. Jeff called me about this project, and I suggested a number of people he could talk to. However, due to the time constraint of the video, Jeff had to limit the number of people in the interviews to three, which include Katherine, myself, and … Continue reading Chinese History of Alaska’s Canning Industry

Kristin Wong’s Story

While working on Fred Wong’s story, I learned that all of his three daughters also worked in Alaska canneries. Before we finished his story, I asked him to get his daughters to write about their own cannery experiences. After a few months of waiting, I finally received the script along with an email from his eldest daughter, Kristin, who had worked in Alaska for six summers. Here is an excerpt of her email: “I hope you are doing well in this new year along with your family. This past year and then the last several months have been quite hectic … Continue reading Kristin Wong’s Story

MESS lecture event 3/25/2021

It just happens that we were the speakers at the first MESS lecture series offered by the SF Maritime Research Center Library together with SF Maritime National Park Association. At first, one might not see the connection between SF Maritime Research Center and the cannery story. However, as it is well known in the Bay Area, Balclutha, the windjammer, is the crown jewel of Maritime National Historical Park’s collection of ships. Balclutha, also known as the Star of Alaska, was used as a cannery transport ship from 1902 to 1930. Each spring, it carried hundreds of fishermen and cannery workers … Continue reading MESS lecture event 3/25/2021

A MESS event on 3/25/2021

On March 25th 2021, Thursday at 11am, my brother and I will be giving a talk on the history of Chinese cannery workers in the salmon canning industry. This is part of an informal lecture series MESS offered by San Francisco Maritime National Park Association. What is MESS about? Here is a description about MESS from their website: The MESS (Maritime Education for Students of the Sea) are informal lunchtime lectures meant to showcase a wide array of maritime knowledge, research and skills. Subjects in the past have included shipwreck survival, Louise Boyd: Arctic explorer, rope walks and maritime fine arts. Lectures usually last around … Continue reading A MESS event on 3/25/2021

Fred Wong’s Amazing Career

I first contacted Fred Wong in October 2020, when my brother Philip and I were preparing for a talk at Chinese Historical Society of America in San Francisco. The subject of the talk was “Chinese Workers and the Early History of Salmon Canneries”. After CHSA made its announcement, one member wrote to CHSA and kindly suggested me to contact his friend Fred in Oregon. I decided to follow up. Actually, that was not the first time I tried to contact Fred. In fact, I have read something about him and a brief summary his 50+ years career in Alaska canneries. … Continue reading Fred Wong’s Amazing Career

The Last Chinaman

I just happened to run across this article during my Internet research of Chinese in salmon canning industry. The headline “The Last Chinaman” grabbed my attention, and it is a story of the a Chinese cannery worker in Point Roberts at the turn of the 20th century. It is quite rare to find a story about a Chinese cannery worker, with name and photo, depicting his life through the era of anti-Chinese movements. This photo from 1898 shows the salmon cannery where he worked, when the story took place. It turns out Point Roberts is situated at a very interesting … Continue reading The Last Chinaman

The Pioneers of the Salmon Canning Industry

If we want to talk about the history of the salmon canning industry, we have to start with the pioneers of this industry: the Hume brothers (William Hume, George, John and Robert) and their friend Andrew Hapgood. The Hume brothers were also the first ones to hire the Chinese workers in 1870; without them, the Chinese might never get a foothold in the cannery labor market. The Hume brothers played an important role in the founding and establishment of this industry. Before the gold rush, the Hume brothers were living in Maine; and they came from an Irish fishing family … Continue reading The Pioneers of the Salmon Canning Industry

CHSA zoom event coming up on 11/21/2020

Our talk on Chinese Workers and the Pacific Salmon Canning Industry is finally coming this weekend on Saturday 11/21 as a virtual event on Zoom. In our first discussion with CHSA early this year, we were planning on a small group in-person talk during the summer at the CHSA museum. However, that was before the COVID-19 hit us; our plan was delayed after shelter in place order was announced. Soon, we were faced with the choice of converting the talk to a virtual event or further postponement. I personally like the feeling of talking to an audience in person, but … Continue reading CHSA zoom event coming up on 11/21/2020

CHCP Webinar 10/10/2020

Last week, on 10/10/2020, on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, we participated as panelists in an one-hour webinar organized by CHCP (Chinese Historical & Cultural Project) in San Jose. The topic of discussion was “Chinese Cannery Workers in the 19th and 20th centuries”. There were three panelists including me, my brother Philip, and Gerry Low Sabado. After introducing ourselves, Philip and I presented the early history of the salmon canning industry and the Chinese workers in a 10 minutes video. After the video, we answered a few questions from the webinar moderator Erwin Wong. Because of the time limitation, we did … Continue reading CHCP Webinar 10/10/2020