The NPC StoryNearly a Century of
Steady Salmon Production
THE LONGEST RUNNING CANNERY IN BC HISTORY
North Pacific Cannery’s history is unique and is comparable to few if any of the other canneries on the west coast of North America. North Pacific Canning Company was formed on November 28, 1888 by Angus Rutherford Johnston, John Alexander Carthew, and Alexander Gilmore McCandless. In 1889, the trustees received a crown grant for 183 acres of land at a cost of $32 and the plant was constructed. It had almost 90 years continuous salmon production and fish processing until ending in the late 1970s.
By 1891, John Alexander Carthew sold the plant to Henry Ogle Bell-Irving and the The Anglo-British Columbia Packing Company, which was founded the previous year. Bell-Irving recognizing the advantages in of consolidation of canning operations and went to England to raise the required capital, and on December 22, 1890 formed the ABC Packing Company to acquire and operate the canneries. He began securing options on several British Columbia fish canneries in the fall of 1890, NPC being one of them. In 1891, the company accounted for more than one quarter of British Columbia’s total salmon pack, and was the foremost packer of sockeye salmon in the world.
ABC Packers owned and operated North Pacific Cannery until 1968, when the company was folded and its assets sold off. The history of NPC is also unique because of its almost continuous ownership by a single firm for over 76 years; this is remarkable in an industry marked by acquisitions, mergers, bankruptcies and restructuring. North Pacific was purchased by Canfisco of Vancouver BC in 1968.
The Site continued to operate, not as a cannery but as a maintenance and reduction facility for the fishing fleet in Prince Rupert until 1981, when it closed for fishing operations. The year 1985 saw a group of local historians band together and ultimately save the site from demolition, paving the way for the museum it is today.