150 Cannery Workers Stranded…

There was an Internet news story on ABC News that caught my eyes with the headline “150 Cannery Workers forced into hotel quarantine without pay”. It was also widely reported in Los Angeles’ local news such as KTLA News in June 2020. Each summer, Pacific Seafoods based in Seattle hires hundreds of foreign workers for summer jobs at its Naknek cannery, located in Bristol Bay, Alaska, promising them round trip transportation to and from their point of hire as well as lodging and meals. Most of the workers were from Mexico or Southern California; however, in 2020, something went wrong … Continue reading 150 Cannery Workers Stranded…

Contractor Lem Sen’s Story

It was exactly a year ago when we gave a talk at CHSA (Chinese Historical Society of America) in San Francisco. The talk was originally planned in early 2020 as an in-person event; however, it became a virtual event because of the pandemic. Because it was a virtual event, we were able to reach out to a wider audience. After the talk, I received an email from Deborah Lem, telling me that her grandfather was a labor contractor and she has some of Lem Sen’s documents in her possession. I was overjoyed to hear that because Lem Sen was one … Continue reading Contractor Lem Sen’s Story

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

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

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

Our talk in L.A. on March 4th, 2020

In early March of this year, I drove down to Los Angeles and met up with my brother Philip. I was debating whether to fly or to drive, but the need for social distancing made the decision easy. Philip had arranged with Chinese Historical Society of Southern California (CHSSC) to give a presentation at their month meeting about the history of the salmon canning industry and the Chinese workers. CHSSC hosts a monthly meeting, and it was fortunate that our talk was scheduled in early March before the SIP order. The meeting was held in Chinatown in the evening. My … Continue reading Our talk in L.A. on March 4th, 2020