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Port Simpson Cannery

Cannery buildings cover the land in the foreground. Mountains are visible across the water in the background.

Aerial view of the village of Port Simpson. Courtesy of the North Pacific Cannery, P984.129.4

The Port Simpson Cannery was funded by the Federal Government as an economic initiative for First Nations peoples of the North Coast.


54°33’36.1″N 130°26’02.5″W

Port Simpson Cannery was B.C.’s first cannery operated as a cooperative. It was run by the Pacific North Coast Native Co-operative (PNCNC). The PNCNC represented five thousand people on seven First Nations Reserves and three thousand people off the reserves. The concept for the cooperative was initially proposed to the Federal Government in 1969 but it was not until 1973 that the Provincial Government signed the agreement and provided the three million dollars for initial construction. The government invested in the plant to provide an opportunity for First Nations fishermen to become economically independent. The Board of Directors featured representatives from nine reserves: Aiyansh, Masset, Skidegate, Kincolith, Port Simpson, Metlakatla, Hartley Bay, Klemtu, and Kitkatla.

The cannery had two high speed canning lines, cold storage for one million pounds of fish, and a reduction plant. In 1975 the plant received grants to expand the site and secure their gillnet fishing fleet. It was closed in 1988 under the management of the Prince Rupert Fishermen’s Co-operative Association.

Monochrome blue label features only text, no images. "North Coast Sockeye Salmon. Presented to commemorate the opening of the Port Simpson facility of the Pacific North Coast Native Co-operative, Port Simpson, BC, on Oct 18th 1975 by the Premiere of British Columbia, the Honourable Dave Barrett.

North Coast North Coast Sockeye Salmon label to commemorate the opening of the Port Simpson facility, 1975. North Pacific Cannery Archives, 072.