Claxton, Skeena River

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Claxton, Skeena River

by | Nov 24, 2019

Claxton cannery was built by Royal Canadian Packing in 1891 in a small embayment on the eastern shore of Telegraph Passage at the mouth of the Skeena River, 22 miles (35 km) south-southeast of Prince Rupert and 66 miles (106 km) southwest of Terrace, British Columbia. The community was started as a sawmill, cannery and health resort, and was named after Frederic James Claxton, one of the promoters of the site.

The remote canneries in the Pacific Northwest relied on coastal steamers to transport machinery, supplies, and labor necessary for the season’s operations, and to transport the canned pack when the season finished. The best canneries were located where certain environmental conditions were met, including a tidewater berth large and deep enough to accommodate these ships. A gently sloping shoreline with a soft substrate was required for driving piles so that the cannery could be built over water which minimized the time and labor for handling fish and facilitated the disposal of waste products. This also allowed the smaller fishing boat to hauled out of the water at seasons end. A reliable water supply was also necessary, and this was either from a nearby stream or diverted from a lake. Claxton was an example of a cannery that had all of these attributes and was considered one of the best cannery locations in the Pacific Northwest.

In 1899, Claxton was purchased by the Wallace Brothers Packing Company that later became Wallace Fisheries. In 1923, Wallace Fisheries was purchased by Kildala Packing Company that was acquired by BC Packers in 1926, and they operated the facility until it closed in 1944. Read more here and here. Explore more of Claxton here:

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