About Cassiar

Cassiar Cannery. . . a place where history and nature meet. . . a meaningful place. For the thousands of residents over Cassiar’s history it is a home, a job, a way of life – of friends, family and fond memories. It was a place of big buildings, noise, activity and as many recall ‘the smell of money’. A fast current from the mighty Skeena River coupled with big tides pushed and pulled the boats up Inverness Passage to the mouth of the Skeena and back again. There were boats everywhere. There were salmon.

In 1889, Alfred E. Green put a $16 deposit on a property in the Skeena Slough to participate in the salmon boom of the late 1800s after Inverness, the first cannery, opened in 1876. Green sold to the Cassiar Packing Company (Caspaco) in 1903 and Cassiar Cannery was in business, fully operational for over 80 years and holding the record as the longest consecutively operating cannery on the West Coast. By 1905, there were 12 canneries operating near the mouth of the Skeena River.

The Grand Trunk Railroad connected the Skeena canneries in 1914 offering a new method of transport from the traditional boats or walking and connecting Prince Rupert with the rest of Canada. In 1959, the Departments of Highways built a road terminating at Cassiar Cannery linking the canneries with Highway 16.

Northern salmon canneries were essentially small towns with everything needed available on site. Cassiar Cannery had a store, doctor, office, cookhouses, machine shops, bunkhouses, manager houses, blacksmith, shipwrights, net lofts, all the canning and processing equipment, power production and more. Internally, the fishing industry operated without money – tokens or charges for food, nets, fuel and so forth would be levied against a personal account with the company one fished or worked for and it would be debited against one’s paycheck. For a while, it was a time of plenty.

Beginning in the 1920s, the number of Skeena canneries began to drop and only the strongest remained. By the 1960s, only 3 operational canneries were left and by the 1980s, Cassiar Cannery was the last operating salmon cannery on the Skeena River.  Although Cassiar is no longer packing salmon, the site has always been open for business. Since the summer of 2006, Cassiar Cannery has been undergoing restoration and diversification into the conservation economy.  A character in its own right – Cassiar Cannery – established in 1889 and still going 122 years later.

Today Cassiar Cannery supports the following activities with more planned for the future:

  • Shipwright Services – boat repairs, restorations and storage
  • Tourism – furnished guest houses for nightly or executive rentals
  • Reclaimed Lumber – red cedar and spruce from beachcombed logs
  • Custom Woodwork – furniture or interior finishing
  • Science and Research – Skeena Estuary Research Centre at Cassiar Cannery

Note: Cassiar Cannery has such a rich and personal history with the thousands of people that were associated with this remarkable place that, as time allows, we will continue to add a more detailed account of Cassiar Cannery’s story.