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Man examines gauge on a large steam-powered oven.

Checking the gauges on the retort, Image CVA-586-980 courtesy of the City of Vancouver Archives.

Cooking was initially a two-step process. Sealed cans were cooked in a hot water bath until the lid started to expand outward. The cans were removed and a small hole was punched in the lid to release the steam. The hole was immediately filled with lead solder. The second cooking was completed in large pressure cookers called retorts. The retort cooked the fish at 115 degrees Celsius (240 degrees Fahrenheit) for 1.5 hours. After the vacuum sealer was introduced the product was cooked fully in retorts in a single step.

A man pushes a stack of seven trays of cans into an open retort oven. Four other ovens are in the background.

Chinese cannery worker loading a tray of one-pound cans into a retort. Gulf of Georgia Cannery Society courtesy of the Canadian Fishing Company CFC 3-19-3

Four men stand in front of five open, empty retorts.

Retorts at the Cunningham Cannery. Prince Rupert City & Regional Archives & Museum of Northern BC, Wrathall Collection, WP996-69-11052

Two metal crates of canned salmon before they are put in the retort for cooking.

Cans of salmon are stacked in metal crates for cooking at the St. Jean's Cannery, 2017. Gulf of Georgia Cannery Society Archives, image courtesy of Sheldon Nider.