REMOTE CANNERY LIFE
AND CONSTANT ACTIVITY
Technology & Labour
In the early days, all of the labour was done by hand, from netting the salmon to cleaning and butchering, to can-making, to canning. As the 20th century progressed, advances in canning technology would be introduced to save time and work. Early examples of cannery technology at North Pacific include the gang knife and the can soldering machine. As technology changed, so did the appearance of the Cannery. Mechanization of the canning process made the Chinese tinsmiths’ jobs obsolete, followed by those of the butchers as the Iron Butcher grew in popularity. These machines greatly increased the efficiency of production and saved a good deal of hard labour. This made the Cannery more profitable, but of course resulted in the loss of many jobs.
Infrastructure technology also had a huge impact on the Inverness Passage canneries. After the railway was put through in 1914, the canneries on the Slough side of the passage profited from their easy rail access, while those on the other side quickly foundered due to the increased costs of transporting their products across the Passage.
Workforce & Ethnicity
In these isolated locales, accessible only by boat or rail, there was a need for staff housing to provide lodging for the workers, who would live on site through the canning season. At most of these canneries, labour was divided according to race and culture, with Japanese fishing and net mending, First Nations fishing and working on the cannery line, Chinese on the cannery line and cooking, and Europeans fishing and managing. This multicultural but segregated arrangement is characteristic of the early north coast canneries. North Pacific has much of its village intact, although all of the First Nations and Chinese houses, as well as most of the Japanese buildings, have been lost through obsolescence and neglect.