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Britannia Cannery

Britannia Shipyards buildings at low tide with grasses in the foreground.

Britannia Shipyards, Richmond BC, 1973. Image 1996 13 54 courtesy of the City of Richmond Archives

Britannia started as a cannery but is better known today as an historical shipyard, and a National Historic Site.


49°07’13.4″N 123°10’09.7″W

The first shipment of canned salmon from Steveston to Europe was sent from the Britannia Cannery wharf aboard the Hudson’s Bay Company clipper Titania in 1889 when the Britannia Cannery was still under construction.

William Archibald Duncan, J. Bachelor, and Eli Harrison were the original owners who sold the plant to Henry Ogle Bell-Irving in 1890. It was built in the common L-shaped configuration for ease of unloading fish and housing the canning line.  

Under Bell-Irving, Britannia Cannery was amalgamated by the Anglo British Columbia Packing Co. during their 1891 merger and in 1918 canning was shut down. The property was then used as a shipyard. In 1969 it was sold to the Canadian Fishing Co., and ten years later sold again to BC Packers Ltd. In 1992 it was designated a National Historic Site, and today commemorates the history of boat building in Steveston. Several of the original cannery buildings remain. 

Stacks of canned salmon inside the Britannia Cannery

Canned salmon at the Britannia Cannery, stacked nearly to the rafters. Notice two men standing near the back of the room, with the stacks towering above their heads. Courtesy of the North Pacific Cannery P979.29.2