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B.C. Ministry of Education Curriculum Connections

  • Natural resources continue to shape the economy and identity of different regions of Canada
  • Physical features and natural resources influence demographic patterns and population distribution
  • The physical environment influences the nature of political, social, and economic change
  • Global demographic shifts including patterns of migration
  • Continuing effects of imperialism and colonialism on Indigenous people
  • Immigration and multiculturalism continue to shape Canadian society and identity
  • Discriminatory policies and injustices in Canada
  • Environmental, political, and economic policies
  • Worldviews lead to different perspectives and ideas about developments in Canadian Society

Student Project Ideas

Human Geography: Use the Map and Timeline to explore the geographic expansion of the salmon canning industry. When and where did the industry begin? When did the industry expand to other rivers with major sockeye salmon runs? How did the industry influence the development of communities along the B.C. coast?

Technology and Social History: Use the Timeline and Working the Line sections to investigate how technological changes or mechanization influenced the industry. Consider the work force, efficiency, and working conditions. Discuss the positive and negative impacts of mechanization from more than one perspective (cannery owner, cannery worker, environment, quality of product).

Worldviews: Use the Cannery Game to emphasize key points and have some fun. It is also a great way to explore ethics and perspective. Imagine and re-write the cannery game answers from the perspective of a cannery worker in the 1870s or a cannery manager today. How would these different perspectives change the game?

Use the website as part of an inquiry unit:

1) Immigration

People came from many different countries to participate in B.C.’s fishing and canning industries. Pick a group/community to research. Some options are Greeks at Deas Island, Croatians at Port Guichon, Japanese at Steveston, Finns at Sointula, Norwegians at Annieville. Consider the following:

  • What were the political, economic, environmental, and cultural conditions in their homeland that motivated people to seek  opportunities in Canada?
  • Describe what life was like for these new immigrants in Canada. Consider housing, job opportunities, language barriers, and discrimination.
  • How did they participate in and/or influence the fishing/canning industry in British Columbia? Consider the skills and/or technology they brought to the industry.
  • Did people from this cultural group face discriminatory policies? If people from this cultural group faced discrimination, has this discrimination been acknowledged or addressed by the Federal Government? If so, what action was taken by the Federal, Provincial, or Municipal governments to address this historical wrong?

2) Indigenous Studies/Perspective

Compare Indigenous and capitalist world views regarding fishing and resource management.

  • Choose a coastal Indigenous group and study their traditional salmon fishing practices. Where/how did they fish? How did they manage the resource? Contrast these practices to the capitalist practices of the canning industry.
  • Research how and why the Canadian government favoured capitalist enterprises over traditional Indigenous fishing practices. Consider the Indian Act, Fisheries Act, and the distribution of fishing licenses.
  • Imagine and write about what you think it would have been like for an Indigenous person to live through the change from fishing or preserving fish for their family to fishing or processing fish for a cannery. Consider how their family life changed, how they used their skills and experience to gain employment in canneries, or how their access to salmon changed.

3) Business

Examine the financial side of cannery management:

  • Conduct further research into one of the major cannery companies such as BC Packers Ltd. or the Canadian Fishing Company. When and by whom was the business established? Where did the start-up capital for the business come from? How do you think the company’s roots influenced its growth?
  • Consider the economic conditions that led to the amalgamation of several canneries by BC Packers in 1902. In your opinion, how did this amalgamation impact the industry?
  • What is a value-added product? What value-added products does Canfisco currently sell? Write a business plan for a new value-added product that you think Canfisco could sell.

4) Labour Organizing

Imagine the classroom is the company lunch room. Some workers want to strike, others do not. Pick a side and make an argument for or against going on strike.

  • Consider the conditions that make people want to strike? Choose an issue (pay, working conditions, other.)
  • Set the scene: What year is it? Where do you live? Are you part of a union? Consider how these differences would influence your perspective.
  • Further research: How have strikes influenced B.C.’s fishing industry?

The Gulf of Georgia Cannery Society provides educational tours for students of all ages.

Contact or 604-664-9234 for more information. More teacher resources are available at