North Pacific Cannery

Since we are stuck in Prince Rupert for a few days while we wait for our fuel tank to be made, we went on a shore excursion to the North Pacific Cannery near Port Edward about 30 miles south of Prince Rupert. We took the public bus that leaves from the Museum of Northern BC three times a day and got dropped off right in front of the cannery. North Pacific is the oldest intact salmon cannery on the West Coast. Built in 1889 it operated continuously for almost a 100 years. At the beginning when the canning process was completely manual, Chinese man would clean and filet the salmon so fast they were called the singing knifes. Native women would pack the slices salmon in cans at a rate of about 70 cans per minute. Early on the cans were sealed with liquid lead.  The decline of fish stocks due to over-fishing and the widespread adoption of refrigeration and with it the demand for fresh/frozen fish instead of cans sealed the fate of the canneries. The ghost towns of Namu, Butedale, etc. that we passed on the way up here already illustrated that story.

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