History Museum Explores the Life of Cannery Pioneer Thomas Foon Chew

By April 23, 2019Press Releases

LOS ALTOS, CA (April 23, 2019) Thomas Foon Chew, an immigrant who ran one of the most successful cannery operations in the United States right here in the Santa Clara Valley in the early 20th century, will be the subject of a Cannery Pioneers Talk offered by Los Altos History Museum, Thursday, May 9 at 7pm. The talk is a program in support of the Museum’s exhibition, “Silicon Valley Eats: A Taste for Innovation,” opening May 2.

In spite of widespread anti-Chinese sentiment, Chew prospered with his Bayside Canning Company from 1906 through the early 1930s, hiring workers from different ethnicities, providing housing and hot lunches for his Chinese laborers, and developing an innovative way to can asparagus, earning him the title of “The Asparagus King.”

Journalist Robin Chapman first wrote about Thomas Foon (as he was often called) in her book “Historic Bay Area Visionaries” (History Press 2018), which is how she met his granddaughter, Dr. Gloria Hom of Palo Alto. She and Hom will share stories of his success at the evening event.

“Thomas Foon Chew and his Bayside Cannery are not well-known in the Santa Clara Valley today. Working on this with his granddaughter, Gloria Hom, is a great way to bring his remarkable story to light,” said Chapman.

Los Altos History Museum began in 1977 with the opening of the J. Gilbert Smith House historic farmhouse, built in 1905. In 2001, the Los Altos History Museum opened its modern building next door, which houses the Museum’s collections, permanent and changing exhibits, store and administrative offices. The Museum and its grounds are available for rent during evenings and weekends. Its collections are owned by the City of Los Altos and are managed by an independent nonprofit organization, whose staff and volunteers are responsible for all programs and operations.

The Museum and J. Gilbert Smith House are open Thursday through Sunday, from noon-4pm. Admission is free. The gardens, outdoor agricultural exhibits and picnic area are accessible beyond Museum hours. For more information, go to: www.losaltoshistory.org, email hello@losaltoshistory.org, or phone 650.948.9427 x14.

Media Contact: Marketing@losaltoshistory.org

Los Altos History Museum: Elisabeth I. Ward, 650.948.9427 x10, eward@losaltoshistory.org