Great Canadian RIVERS 

*Species / Habitat 






Gulf of Georgia National Historic Site
At the fishing community of Steveston, just 30 kilometres south of Vancouver on the coast of British Columbia, you can experience cannery life of the early twentieth century. Take a look at a turn of the century fishing skiff, or imagine a 12 hour fish-gutting shift at the ýsliming tableţ in 1930. Restored Gulf of Georgia cannery buildings, built between 1894 and 1964, include the main cannery, icehouse, vitamin oil shed, drum storage shed, watchmanĘs house and lead foundry. Learn more about the Gulf of Georgia Cannery at

Fisheries Facts
The Canadian Salmon Industry

The Canadian fishing industry is one of the most valuable in the world, generating $5 billion a year and providing more than 120,000 jobs.

The Pacific fishery accounts for 16% of total landings, with top production in hake, Pacific herring, redfish and salmon.

Aquaculture produces 10% of total Canadian fish and shellfish production, and provides 7,000 jobs. Salmon represents 93% of aquaculture production, amounting to $518.6 million in value.

Exports of farmed salmon in 2000 were British ColumbiaĘs most significant exported agricultural product, at a value of $270 million.

Fish farms in New BrunswickĘs Bay of Fundy have become a $100 million industry, exceeding all other traditional fisheries in the Bay combined. Atlantic salmon is the major product.

There are 18 major fish hatcheries in the province of British Columbia. Since 1975, half a billion dollars has been spent on Pacific Salmon Enhancement.

In the mid 1990Ęs, all salmon species caught by British Columbia started to decline. By 2001, catches have declined from historic annual average hauls of 60,000 metric tonnes to less than 20,000.

In 1999, Canada and the United States signed the Pacific Salmon Treaty, a conservation-based approach to the management of the Pacific salmon fisheries, and a more equitable sharing of salmon catches between the two countries.


Pacific Salmon Industry Timeline
Pre-1800: Salmon is foundation of aboriginal prosperity, with survival dependent on annual harvest. Fishing methods include seines, weirs, spears and dip nets.

1829: First commercial shipments of salted salmon in barrels from HudsonĘs Bay Company post at Fort Langley on the Fraser River. By 1835, 3,000 to 4,000 barrels per year exported to Hawaiian Islands and Asia.

1858: Fraser River gold rush leads to conflict with aboriginal fishers. Fatal confrontation at Boston Bar between miners and native people. 1867: First commercial cannery opened by James Syme at Annieville on the Fraser River. Venture fails.

1870: Annieville cannery successfully reopened by Alexander Ewan and company. Commercial salmon canning industry underway.

1876: Sockeye salmon replaces Chinook as most valuable commercial species.

1887: Canadian Pacific Railway completed, opening eastern Canadian and US markets for fresh, frozen and canned salmon.

1900: More than 90 canneries operate in British Columbia, with up to 2 million cases packed per year. Total commercial harvest by US and Canadian industry amounts to 50-80% of spawning salmon.

1906: Smith Butchering Machine, by Seattle inventor Edmund A. Smith, automates salmon gutting and cleaning process, rendering hand-butchering skills of Chinese cannery workers obsolete.

1914: Massive rock slide from CNPR roadbed crashes into HellĘs Gate canyon, reducing river to 35 metres and destroying major sockeye runs on Fraser River.

1917: Canneries flourish due to WWI food shortages and salmon army rations. Pink, chum and Coho fisheries on Skeena, Nass and coastal waters compensate for depleted Fraser River sockeye resource.

1930: Wages slashed and plants closed in wake of Great Depression.

1940: WWII forced evacuation of Japanese-Canadians from west coast leads to seizure of 1,200 fishing boats. Boats later sold at fraction of value to packing companies.

1945: After decades of labour strife, United Fisherman and Allied Workers Union established. China Contract system abolished. HellĘs Gate Fishways opened, leading to gradual resurgence of Fraser River migration.

Post 1950: Technological change leads to increased efficiency of fishing fleet and centralization of processing operations. Conflict between Canadian and American fishers. Refrigerated seawater preservation method eliminated need for plants close to fishing grounds. Older, isolated canneries closed. Salmon habitat endangered by pulp and paper, hydroelectric development, urbanization, giving rise to environmental conflict and regulation. Steep decline in stocks, competition from farmed salmon and intensive fishing by highly mobile fleets.