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Butedale Cannery

Cannery building with large steamship docked at the wharf.

S.S. Cardena steamship docked at Butedale Cannery, c. 1930s, Image CVA 374-16 courtesy of the City of Vancouver Archives.

Cannery buildings at Butedale had to be lashed to the shore as piles could not be driven into the sea floor.


53°09’32.9″N 128°41’41.2″W

Butedale Cannery was built in 1911 by John Wallace. It was a multipurpose plant with canning, cold storage, and reduction facilities. Wallace sold the plant to Western Salmon Packers Ltd. in 1917 and it was sold again to the Canadian Fishing Co. in 1923. From 1936-1940 the plant was updated and modernized with expansions to both the cannery and reduction plant.

Despite its isolation from coastal towns, Butedale Cannery was a successful and significant operation for the Canadian Fishing Co. The cannery’s location was chosen for its access to fresh water and several fish stocks. The drawback of the location was the landscape. The cannery had to be tied to the shore with cables because it was impossible to drive pilings into the ocean floor. In 1950 the area experienced an exceptionally heavy snowfall which caused the cannery roof to collapse. It was not rebuilt because the Canadian Fishing Co. was already preparing to open Oceanside Cannery in Prince Rupert the following year.

Years of erosion have caused many of the cannery’s structures to fall into the water. Those that remain are rare examples of typical northern B.C. cannery buildings.

Wharf at the Butedale cannery village. Signs on the main building read "Butedale" and " The Canadian Fishing Co. Ltd."

The Canadian Fishing Company buildings and docks at Butedale, 1946. Image I-28254 courtesy of the Royal BC Museum and Archives

Butedale Cannery complex from a distance across an expanse of water. Low clouds cover the hill behind the cannery buildings.

Butedale Cannery, 1946. The bottom of a waterfall pouring into the ocean can be seen on the right side; Butedale's abundance of fresh water helped in its long term commercial success. Gulf of Georgia Cannery Collection G2001.009.013A

Cannery building with two tall smoke stacks. Atop one of the stacks is a man waving his cap in the air with one hand.

Worker waving his cap from the top of a cannery building chimney, c. 1930. Gulf of Georgia Cannery Society Archives G2002.010.001.013

Twelve male workers sit on the dock at Butedale

Group of cannery workers posing for a photo in front of a cannery building at Butedale. Gulf of Georgia Cannery Society Archives G2002.010.001.026