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"When the Cannery whistle blew, you dropped whatever you were doing and ran to work."

In the early years, Cannery crews were ethnically diverse and jobs were segregated. Chinese men made the cans, unloaded the fish, sealed the cans, and were general labourers in the canneries. First Nations and Japanese men fished while First Nations and Japanese women cleaned the fish. European women filled and patched the cans, and European men served as managers, engineers, and machinists. In later years positions were less segregated by ethnicity and gender.

The canning line was a noisy, bustling place. Initially the process was manual and, over time, it became increasingly mechanized. The work was repetitive yet many former cannery workers remember their cannery days with a fondness for the friendships they made on the line and the freedom of a hard-earned dollar in their pocket.

A seated man counts salmon coming up through the dock on a conveyor belt.


The canning process began at the unloading dock after the fish was caught and brought to the cannery.

Learn Moreabout Unloading clicker used to count salmon
Interior of a Richmond cannery, the floor covered with fish.


The fish were sorted by species and stored until the canning line was ready to receive them.

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