Susan Chew was born in 1927 in Victoria, British Columbia. Growing up on a farm just outside the city, she and her ten siblings helped their parents, Chew Dang and Yee C. Loo Chew, with the family’s vegetable garden business. She later moved to New Westminster, British Columbia, where she was a successful business owner. In 1956, Susan made headlines in New Westminster, British Columbia, and across the country when she was denied tenancy in an apartment when American buyers of the building found out that she was Chinese. The community rallied around Susan, so the original owners cancelled the sale of the building. Susan was able to move in without further incident. Over the years, Susan has taken on a number of work, community and entrepreneurial roles: as a Cub Scout leader, journalist, hula dance performer, travel agent and tour guide, model, designer, actress, radio host, boutique owner, public speaker and real estate agent. After spending many years in Toronto, Ontario, she now resides in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Here, Susan Chew models a brocade Chinese robe to onlookers at a fashion show, possibly held at the Bayshore Inn, Vancouver, British Columbia. In the post-war years, food and fashion were two means of introducing non-Chinese audiences to Chinese culture and heritage. Chinese community groups in cities like Vancouver and Toronto, Ontario held events featuring fashion shows to raise money for charitable causes.