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Imperial Cannery

The Imperial Cannery complex in the distance with the Fraser River in the foreground

One of many canneries purchased by BC Packers in 1902, Imperial quickly became one of the largest. Image C-04950 courtesy of the Royal BC Museum and Archives.

Imperial Cannery was the largest and longest operating cannery on the Steveston waterfront. It was the Fraser River headquarters for BC Packers Ltd.


49°07’23.8″N 123°10’48.6″W

Benjamin J. Short and W.H. Squair built the Imperial Cannery in 1893. Short and Squair were inexperienced with the canning business and were losing money, so they sold the cannery to BC Packers in 1902. In the 1930s the original cannery was replaced with a much larger building. Production from the Brunswick #1 and Hume Canneries was moved to Imperial, creating the largest cannery in British Columbia at the time. Imperial had four canning lines.

Oysters, clams, herring, tuna, and dog food were also canned at Imperial Cannery. The plant also processed bottom fish, cured fish roe, and rendered herring into fish meal and fish oil. Bottom fish became the most important product for Imperial Cannery from the 1960s to 1980s when many other canneries closed.

Salmon canning ended at Imperial Cannery in 1993, while herring reduction and other operations continued until 1996 when the plant closed.

Women in Cloverleaf uniforms packing Rupert Brand frozen salmon fillets in boxes.

Packaging fish products at Imperial Plant in Richmond. 1950s. Gulf of Georgia Cannery Society Archives 1998.001.019

Red label features a man in fancy clothes and a salmon labeled "Fancy Keta".

One pound can label for the British Columbia Packers Ltd. Grandee Fancy Canadian Salmon. Gulf of Georgia Cannery Society Archives