The Iron Chink

Here is a photo of the Iron Chink machine on display at Seattle’s Expo in 1909. The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition was a world fair held in Seattle to publicize the development of the Pacific Northwest. Since salmon canning was a major industry in Pacific Northwest at the turn of the 20th century, it made a lot of sense for the Iron Chink, a fish cleaner, to be displayed in the fair. Edmund Smith invented the machine in 1903, which he named Iron Chink. By 1909, the machine was gaining acceptance by the canners and Smith was becoming wealthy. The participation in … Continue reading The Iron Chink

FINDING THE 1908 WRECKED CANNERY SHIP IN SOUTHEAST ALASKA

Just recently, in May 2022, Alaska Endeavour assembled a team of eight in an expedition to find the wreck of the Star of Bengal. Their goal is to document the forensic evidence, to collect historical documents, to register it as ahistorical site and to work towards building a memorial that would honor these who perished in the disaster. The event was reported by Alaska Endeavour: “The Star of Bengal was a 264-foot schooner that sank off Coronation Island, Alaska, on September 20, 1908. The ship was heading back to San Francisco, full of canned salmon and laborers from the cannery … Continue reading FINDING THE 1908 WRECKED CANNERY SHIP IN SOUTHEAST ALASKA

AAPI Heritage Month

To celebrate AAPI Heritage month in May, Robert Palos of Alaska Bureau of Land Management decided to host a talk on the impact of Asian workers in Alaska salmon canneries. Jeff Chen, multimedia journalist from Alaska Public Media, my brother Philip and I were invited to participate in this virtual event for the employees of Bureau of Land Management. Marnie Graham, a BLM manager, gave the opening remark. She happens to have worked in Alaska canneries when she was attending college. Her experience in the egg-house brought back some fond memories since I also worked in the egg-house and as … Continue reading AAPI Heritage Month

The Price of Salmon

I hope you will judge this book by its cover and content. Jim and l are publishing “The Price of Salmon” this summer. We designed the book cover ourselves. However, our principal roles are editors. We compiled, in digital and book format, a series of newspaper articles that were first published on the San Francisco Daily 100 years ago. The writer was Max Stern, a reporter best known for his exposé of the Alaskan salmon canning industry. The original articles are available online only in facsimiles that are difficult to read and almost impossible to enjoy. The articles are valuable … Continue reading The Price of Salmon

An Article about Chinese Cannery Workers & Iron Chink

It was May 2021, when Jeff Chen, Alaska Public Media, did a story on the history of Chinese workers in Alaska salmon canneries. His 5 minutes video was shown on Alaska public TV station in May, 2021 as part of the programs to celebrate Asian Pacific Islander Month. Through Jeff Chen, another reporter from South China Post, Mark Magnier, contacted me for an interview on a written story. Mark talked to me, my brother Philip, and others over a period of 3-4 months. Eventually, he put together a pretty comprehensive story on the history of Chinese cannery workers with a … Continue reading An Article about Chinese Cannery Workers & Iron Chink

Waterfall Cannery Now and Then

Five years ago, after I retired from my professional work, I was interested to find out what happened to the first cannery I worked at. When I looked up Waterfall cannery online, I was surprised to find that the cannery was shut down after the 1970 season and the place was turned into a fishing resort in the 1980s. This discovery piqued my interest in canneries and the history of Chinese workers. In 1970, on my first trip to Alaska, my mind was filled with excitement, as we look down at this cannery from the floatplane. My first thought was: … Continue reading Waterfall Cannery Now and Then

Chinese Workers and the Iron Chink

5 months ago, I first got an email from Mark, a reporter, asking me to do an interview for an article on Chinese cannery workers. He had recently visited Alaska and picked up our names there. We talked 2 or 3 times over the phone, and he went away. A few days ago, a friend read his article on South China Morning Post and send me the link. Besides the history of Chinese cannery workers and our more recent ventures in Alaska, he talked a lot about Iron Chink, which is a fish cleaning machine that eventually replaced the Chinese … Continue reading Chinese Workers and the Iron Chink

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

San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

There is a hidden gem in San Francisco that many people may not know about, tourists and locals alike. There is not a lot of information on their website. It is at the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park and is part of the National Park System. This park is near Fisherman’s Wharf on the pier. At the Hyde Street Pier, there are historic steam and sailing vessels along with other maritime exhibits. San Francisco has been a major West Coast city since the 1800s, played a major part in maritime exploration, was a major port city at the time, … Continue reading San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

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