North Pacific Cannery Celebrates 130th Anniversary

Brittany Webster

People were invited to attend walking tours and eat cake yesterday at the North Pacific Cannery in celebration of their 130th anniversary.

The national historical site is the longest-standing cannery in B.C. history and was once bustling with workers and their families during fishing season.

Michael Gurney, Chair of the Port Edward Historical Society, says hundreds of thousands of dollars have gone into sustaining and preserving the site, allowing for the re-opening of previously off-limits spaces.

"This year, for example, the public can view the Japanese bunk house which is now home to a bathtub, a traditional ofuro, which we rescued from the woods of Port Edward last year. This bathtub is on display in the Japanese bunk house. The Japanese net boss house is also open, as well as some of the European houses along the boardwalk."

The working dock which overlooks the Skeena River has also been restored and is open to the public, and the Mess House cafe was re-opened for the season.


The cannery's general manager Ann Leach says they have over 10,000 guests per season and loves to meet individuals who once called North Pacific their home.

"We are always fascinated when we do have guests that come back on site who actually have phsyical experience here and they've lived here, they lived here either as a child or they would have lived here as their first job. On one occassion I met with an individual who lived here when she was bringing up her kids and her husband was the net boss on site at one time, and she was actually coming over or back up here to spread her husband's ashes on the Skeena, because it was so significant, of course, to her whole family."

Patty's Burger Wagon was on site with barbecue for hungry visitors.

Tour season at the North Pacific Cannery runs from May through September with three guided tours per day to learn all about the canning process and the site's historical significance.

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