A. Stanley Fleetham – letter to Western Mariner January 2011

COURTESY OF WESTERN MARINER.  To see the pdf version straight from the magazine, please click on the link below the story.


To the Publisher:

I have just had the immense pleasure of reading through your September issue, one that will always be in my library.  Why the exultation? Your features on Prince Rupert and Cassiar Cannery!

On September 15, 1944 I was a 19-year-old youth who was sent to Prince Rupert and the salmon canneries to work.  It was thought that I was an experienced label machine operator, but alas I was only a neophyte! In the ensuing three months I not only learned to operate the labelling machines, but also employed in most of the canneries that were in existence in 1944.

In 1944 on the Inverness Slough and Skeena River there were a number of canneries – Port Edward, Inverness, North Pacific, Sunnyside and Cassiar on the north shore, whilst Claxton, Carlysle, and I believe Porcher Island, were all canning salmon with all production slated for England during war-time.  I either labelled product or was the shipper and loader of the box cars of product.

After the canning season I was then dispatched to the Ocean Dock in Prince Rupert where I completed the 1944 season labelling on December 14, 1944.

When I first arrived in Prince Rupert, the American Army was a dominant factor in affairs of the city.  Besides their influence in Prince Rupert they also had constructed and established an orientation centre at Port Edward, which after a cessation of hostilities, was returned to the Port Edward authority and became today’s Port Edward municipality.

There is an article in your issue as regards Tuck Inlet.  Originally there was a salmon cannery at the head of the inlet.  In 1940 or so Nelson Bros Fisheries purchased the Tuck Inlet Cannery and moved the canning machinery to the Ocean Dock in Prince Rupert and became one of the first canneries in the city.  However when the American army arrived they confiscated the Ocean Dock making it necessary for the cannery and all equipment to be moved to the present Port Edward locale.

Another pleasant surprise was the article on Cassiar Cannery.  During my 1945 tour of duty in Prince Rupert I had occasion to draw canned salmon samples for the Department of Fisheries laboratory from the Cassiar warehouse.  We had always been friends of the McMillan family and it was my introduction to their enterprise.  In 1962 I left the employ of Nelson Bros. Fisheries Ltd. and joined a firm, Anderson & Miskin Ltd. and discovered that A&M were the sales agents for Cassiar Cannery.  Over the ensuing years I was a yearly visitor to the cannery, the McMillans and a number of the cannery staff. (Keeping things in the family, my brother ran the grocery store there in the late ’40s whilst he was a student at UBC.)

From the above you can appreciate my interest in Prince Rupert and Cassiar Cannery, which your magazine has highlighted.  I am in anticipation of your October issue and the second part of your adventures in Prince Rupert.

Yours truly,

A. Stanley Fleetham

Sechelt BC

Letter from A. Stanley Fleetham to Western Mariner January 2011