One of our first tours of the year is the “Canneries of the North Coast” and also one of the most unique. Over the 4 days we visit over 18 remnants of the salmon canneries of the lower Skeena River and the islands at the entrance to it. Names like Balmoral, Humpback Bay, Claxton and Carlisle to name a few. We also visit some of the most remote fishing related communities on the north coast like the Icelandic Community of Osland and the boat building town of Oona River. Plus we stay 4 nights in a cannery at one of the most unique accommodations in BC- Cassiar Cannery. The trip is for those who like small group sizes and getting off the beaten path to see some of the most unique sites on the north coast.
The lower Skeena River on British Columbia’s North Coast was line with over 26 canneries starting in 1877 with the Inverness Cannery. Inverness was situated in the Skeena Slough or one arm of the delta of the Skeena River before it empties into the Pacific Ocean. This slough is also Known as “Cannery Row” due to the numerous canneries which lined it’s shores. North Pacific Cannery and Cassiar Cannery still have substantial remains with North Pacific now a national historic site. Other than these two relatively easily accessible canneries, many of the other ones are boat access only and at different stages of decay and remaining remnants. The hidden treasures that remain and the stories they tell are truly amazing. One of the best sources of information on the canneries is Gladys Blyth’s book “Salmon Canneries British Columbia North Coast”. We are fortunate to be able to deliver a 3 day tour to these sites plus many other fishing villages and historic sites in our “Canneries of the North Coast Tour”. Through the UNBC “Northern BC Adventures Program”
The lower Skeena River and the north coast is home to many weathered derelict fishing boats that have been abandoned or washed up on shore. They are truly a photographers paradise to capture that amazing photo unlike any other. Each boat has a one of kind story and history behind them from salmon fishing, gillnetting, crabbing or transportation. This seldom visited area has many boats lining the shores and just takes a keen eye and some tips on where to look. Here is our top 10 list with a couple of honorable mentions. If you know any specific history on any of these boats we would love to hear about them.
To see these boats and to have a chance to get up close and personal with them check out our “Canneries of the North Coast” tour where we visit these boats and many more.
One of the most interesting times to explore the old canneries of the Skeena River is at low tide. This area still has upto 20 ft tides and for a few hours each day the shores come alive with items from the past that provide some insights into the history of these abandoned sites. We usually visit a couple of them at low tide and provide the guests with some time to explore. Old animal skulls, bones, teeth, headstones, bricks, beach glass, muffin pans, pots, ceramics, and much more still remain. Every cannery is unique with the remnants from the past depending on the dismantling, length of operation and year it closed. These seldom visited sites are truly a unique trip and we visit them on our Canneries of the North Coast tour in May 2017.
On our Canneries of the North Coast Tour one of the locations we will visit is not a Cannery but it is one of the locations I am very excited to visit again. This boat building and logging community on Porcher Island is a truly unique community with so many interesting things to see in a such a small area. I have had previous posts of the boats and boat houses, the rainbow house and an aerial view of the community. Walking along the few km’s of road is the best way to see the hidden gems that lie off the edge of the road,along the shoreline or hidden in the trees. Here are a few more photos of Oona River.
One the many Canneries on the North Coast we will visit is the old Carlisle Cannery at the mouth of the Skeena River. It was one of the first Canneries to be built outside of the protected waters of the Skeena River. This Cannery was built in 1895 and ceased operations in 1950. The cannery produced a high of 72 000 cases in 1941. When seeing photos from the past of Carlisle Cannery was a bustling place that sprawled across the shore and out onto the ocean with hundreds of pilings. When heading back now to look at a 120 year old cannery there does not seem to be much left but when you start to explore on shore it is amazing what remains in the mud amongst the pilings and in the forest where rows of houses once stood. Here are a few then and now photos.
The boat building community of Oona river on Porcher Island is one of our stops on the “Canneries of the NorthCoast” tour in late May. The community is a very interesting place with remnants of the boat building past everywhere. One thing that does not fit the theme of this era is the “Rainbow House. It is owned by Oona River residents Lutz and Wendy. When I asked about the story behind the house they told me they painted it these colors to brighten up the place during the cloudy and rainy days that the coast frequently experiences. Btw If you were wondering what the weather is doing right now at Oona River they also have a weather station there. http://www.weatherlink.com/user/orhabc
The early 1900’s fishing community of Oona River is one of our stops on the May 29-June 3, 2016 “Canneries of the Northcoast” tour through Continuing Studies. The community lies on the southeast corner of Porcher Island. The community boasts over 130 boats being built there in one of the many boat building sheds. Many of these boat sheds still remain today even though no boat building occurs. The sheds and old boats spending their final resting days on the shores of Porcher Island are a photographers paradise. We will also have a local community member tour us around the site and share her history and knowledge of the place. Here are a few photos of Oona River.
On the UNBC Educational Tour “Canneries of the Northcoast ” & “The Skeena River Historical Journey by Jet Boat” we will visit the Icelandic fishing community of Osland. It is situated on Smith Island at the mouth of the Skeena River. The community was settled 1910-15 with a group of Icelandic individuals from the province of Manitoba. The community was quite small with a population rarely exceeding 100. The main industry was fishing. Today it is a small community of cabins and cottages with a scattereing of old boats and relics from the fishing days. The most unique feature is the 1 km long boardwalk that parallels the ocean which makes for a magnificent stroll while looking for that unique photo.
On our “Canneries of the NorthCoast” Tour we will visit the the sites of over 10 canneries that were situated in the Skeena River Estuary. Some have many buildings still remaining while others are just a a set of pilings. For those that like to explore and “poke” around there is always a plethora of items to find laying in the mud or in the forest where the canneries once stood. For photographers there is no shortage of unique and interesting photo opportunities that can’t be found anywhere else.
Haysport was one of these Skeena River Canneries. it lies on the north side of the Skeena River across from Port Essington and adjacent to the Grand Trunk Pacific rail line. It was named for Charles Hays, president of the railway at the time. It was established in cold Storage facility in 1910 and as a cannery in 1919. By the 1930’s fishereis had moved the commercial fishing boundary below this point which hurt the cannery and it eventually closed in 1938.
Today many pilings remain as well as a 500 m fairly intact boardwalk or Haysport mainstreet. There are also lots of old items and remnants still littering the surrounding forest.