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Canning line mechanization begins

Two men load salmon into baskets on an endless chain which takes the fish up and through a set of round blades.

Two workers feeding salmon into the gang knives machine at a cannery. The different spacing of the blades on these two machines corresponds to different sizes of cans: one man is cutting fish for half pound cans, and the other is cutting for one pound cans. Gulf of Georgia Cannery Society Archives courtesy of the Canadian Fishing Company CFC 3-21-12.

The gang knives cut salmon into uniform pieces using circular blades. Like a Ferris wheel, a slotted escalator lifts each cleaned and gutted fish up and into the spinning blades. The blades are spaced to cut fish into lengths equal to the height of the cans.

The filling machine uses a piston to push salmon steaks into cans. It could process at more than 100 cans a minute. The filling machine is developed in the 1880s, but not used in Fraser River canneries until 1902 and not adopted by most canneries until much later. In fact, most canneries still preferred to hand fill the cans because the hand-filled product could be sold at a higher price.