The Fishing Industry

The North Coast of B.C. was abundant in many species of fish, such as salmon, halibut, herring, and cod. Inverness Cannery was the first salmon canning plant to be established in the area in 1876. By 1910 there were 14 canneries operating on the Skeena River.

The Skeena Commercial Cannery at Port Essington, B.C. on the Skeena River, circa 1906. Pamela Chambers series. Pam Chambers collection, P2000-072-3451

From the beginning, wooden Columbia Riverboat style sail gillnetters were used for fishing salmon on the Skeena Slough, circa 1908. Allen, J. Dennis (Denny), P991-56-5899

Fishermen mending nets at a cannery on the Skeena River Slough, circa 1908. Allen, J. Dennis (Denny), P991-56-5897

Interior of a Skeena River Salmon Cannery showing tins of canned salmon, circa 1908. Allen, J. Dennis (Denny), P991-56-5893

Sail-gillnetters being towed to the fishing grounds. Cassiar Cannery on the Skeena Slough is in the background, circa 1909. McRae Bros., 2016-014-090A

One man rowing with oars would be in the bow while another would haul the nets over the stern to unload the catch, circa 1910. McRae Bros., 2016-014-162

Boats being towed to the fishing grounds from the Prince Rupert Cannery down Tuck’s Inlet towards Prince Rupert and out to the mouth of the Skeena River, circa 1912. Bowman collection. McRae Bros., 2018PRCannery

Each gillnet boat was attached by an individual becket line to the main tug-boat line and deployed to the fishing grounds. Each fisherman released his becket, at a chosen spot, to then set their gillnet, circa 1912. McRae Bros, 2016-014-161

Interior View of Skeena River Cannery, circa 1916. Wrathall, William W., WP996-69-11053

Herring Fishing in Prince Rupert Harbour, circa 1912. Allen, J. Dennis (Denny), P991-47-5846

Fishermen brailing herring from fish boats Zenardi and the Western Spirit in the Prince Rupert harbour. Wrathall, William W., WP996-89-11307

Whaling stations were operating at Rose Harbour in 1910 and a year later at Naden Harbour on Haida Gwaii (formerly Queen Charlotte Islands).

A fisherman and Bill Shrubsall with a two-hundred pound halibut outside the Prince Rupert Fish Market, circa 1908. Allen Photo, LP984-29-1759-33

Prince Rupert For Halibut. "Don't Forget It", October 1, 1916. Fred Button, 2009-004-519

Canadian Fish and Cold Storage Company, Ltd., constructed by the Atlin Construction Co. and established in 1910, and later known as Rupert Cold Storage, operated out of Seal Cove that year and the first halibut frozen in the plant was in April 1912.

The plants first shipment of halibut out of Prince Rupert left on September 30th, 1914 for Toronto and Chicago, by refrigerated rail cars on the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway (GTP).

The Cold Storage Plant, Prince Rupert. Steel Halibut Boats James Carruthers, Andrew Kelly and C.E. Foster, 1920. Wrathall, William W., WP996-36-10543

Frozen Halibut on Shelves in the Freezer at the Rupert Cold Storage plant at Seal Cove, Prince Rupert, B.C. circa 1912. McRae Bros., 2016-014-025

445,000 lbs - 20 Carloads Halibut Landed at Prince Rupert, B.C., March 1st, 1921. Halibut fish boats S.S. Scandia, M/V Rosario, M/V Agnes, M/V Fremont in front of Atlin Fisheries Ltd. with the GTP warehouse in the distance. McRae Bros., 2016-014-014

The Halibut Fleet in Prince Rupert delivered the largest landing of halibut, 677,000 lbs., on September 27, 1937. Wrathall, William W., WP996-84-11256

Canadian Fish & Cold Storage employees at the Seal Cove plant, circa 1935.

Seen in the photo are Alex Strachan, Alec Murray, Arthur Bell, Bob Woods, Pete Christ, Mr. Pick, Tom Elliott, Bill Hunter, John Murray, Jimmie Hillman, Alec Gomez, William Baillie, Joe Martin, Harry Worsfield, Joe Davidson, Jim Taylor, Ted Davidson, Mr. Lawson, Charles Baptie, James H. McGlashan. William Baillie series. Prince Rupert City & Regional Archives collection, 2006-005-002

The Prince Rupert waterfront was lined with fish and cold storage plants in 1938. Atlin Fisheries Ltd. and Northern Fishermen's Cold Storage were just a few. Wrathall, John R., JRW1562A

Prince Rupert Fishermen’s Co-operative Association Fish at Fairview, Pr. Rupert, B.C., 1946. Wrathall, John R., WP997-40-12800

Fishing supply businesses such as Edward Lipsett Ltd. were established on the waterfront in the Cow Bay area. Alf Jacobsen, P2000-016-709

Prince Rupert Fishermen's Co-operative Store known as the Fishermen’s Supply Company in Cow Bay, 1946. Wrathall, John (Jack) Richmond, JRW502

For many years, the fishing industry was the primary industry in Prince Rupert and the surrounding area. Today you still see the fishing boats but they are no longer canning salmon, at this time, in Prince Rupert. Most fish are shipped out to be processed elsewhere. Other seafood products like crab, shrimp, sole, rock cod, red snapper and sea urchins, are fished on the Northcoast.