In Their Words : The Story of BC Packers
The solubles plant at Imperial Cannery
The solubles plant at Imperial Cannery reduction plant, circa 1950s. Notice how large the evaporators are compared to the two Evaporatormen at right!
City of Richmond Archives 1985 4 646
The solubles plant at Imperial Cannery Explore the Evaporators at the Gulf of Georigia Cannery

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Evaporators were used to concentrate wastewater into high-protein fish solubles. Prior to 1948, ‘stickwater', the wastewater from separators, was simply pumped out into the river or the sea. That year, B.C. Packers installed British Columbia's first ‘stickwater' recovery equipment at Steveston's Imperial Plant. It was realized that ‘stickwater' actually contained a great deal of material other than water and that this material could be isolated and sold. The new machines were called evaporators. The end product was thick protein syrup about the consistency of molasses. It was called solubles and it found a ready market as an animal feed supplement.

The Evaporatorman working in the solubles plant was responsible for machines that used thousands of pounds of steam per hour! Monitoring steam and vacuum gauges, he regulated evaporation, ensuring enough water was removed. Maintenance was easy – the machines rarely broke down. As retired plant worker Gerry Keneva said, "This was a nice job, but boring!"

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