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Interior of a Richmond cannery, the floor covered with fish.

The fish elevator, on the back wall, dumps the salmon onto the floor as it comes up from the boats at the dock below. 1913 Image E-05033 courtesy of the Royal BC Museum and Archives

Fish were stored until the canning line was ready for them. They used to be stored directly on the cannery floor. Gaps between the large floor timbers allowed air to circulate and keep the fish cool. 

To reduce the risk of contamination, large holding bins were eventually installed.  Fish were sorted by species and by freshness. This ensured that the first fish coming into the cannery would be the first fish canned. The bins evolved over time from crude wooden boxes to aluminum, stainless-steel, or plastic containers. 

Several men are surrounded by bins containing fish and ice.

These workers at Prince Rupert Salmon Cannery in 1953 sort the incoming fish into bins filled with ice to keep them fresh. Image I-28891 courtesy of the Royal BC Museum and Archives.