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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.

Once a salmon was butchered and cleaned, it was cut into can-sized pieces. Like butchering, slicing was done by hand. In the early years of the industry, Chinese men often did this work.

During the 1870s, a hand-cranked cutting machine called the gang knives was introduced. It was the first form of mechanization on the canning line. The machine was operated by two men. One worker placed salmon into a wooden basket attached to a continuous chain. The other worker turned a crank to move the circular blades, cutting the fish into steaks. The equally spaced blades, mounted on an axle, ensured the fish were cut to fit the half-pound or one-pound cans.

In later years, a power-operated rotary unit was introduced.