I have lived on the coast for 13 years now and have tried to visit the North Pacific Cannery every time I come over to Prince Rupert but it has been closed...we (four travellers waiting for ferries) got lucky last Sunday both with the weather and the cannery!
Built in 1889 this is one of the last remaining canneries of 1000 which were located along the Pacific coast from San Fransisco, California to Skagway, Alaska.
Last operated in 1980 these machines still work with the careful handling of old timers like "Spider", our amazing guide who worked at the cannery for 40 years and now serves as host and winter watchman.Archival photo BC Museum
This machine was used to slice the gutted and cleaned salmon in pieces that would fit into 8oz tins.
One of four giant kettles that were used in the final sealing of the cans.
The company store. Spider looked like he belonged there!
The "Company" store was a teasure trove of antiques with a wonderful collection of goods and product on the shelves.
The North Pacific Cannery produced salmon for export all over the world under 100 different labels.
I remember using one of these machines when I came to Canada in 1957...you always had to watch out that the clothes you were wearing did not get caught in the wringer!
Waiting for the Steamer!
These trucks were being shipped to Ketchikan in 1901, this lawyer returning to Ketchikan felt right at home!
The office could only be staffed with European men except for the telephone switch board which was staffed by a woman and she was the fishery gossip and everyone's friend!
Rendering tanks were used to boil down fish offal and fish oil when the fishing season ended. The cannery was not a place you wanted to live when this was happening, any clothes you were wearing usually needed to be burned rather than washed!
If you weren't careful you'd end up in the "salt chuck" or the "muck". This was a slack tide where it is at its lowest and was turning to come in. The water at high tide came just under the buildings.
There were three net sheds at North Pacific Cannery, the European, the Chinese and the First Nation, this is the first nation net shed. The were used 24 hours a day to wash, hang and repair nets and they were the community centres for their respective populations. Cultures were seperated at the canneries both in living environments and working environments. Owners found that by keeping them seperate there was better production as there was always competition as to who would produce more.
This is an original oil painting of the First Nations homes on the dock with the Net Shed to the right. The little cabins were about 12' x 16' with kitchen and living in the front half and bunks stacked three high at the back. Up to twelve people living in these little cabins built on pillings and connected by boardwalks.