In Their Words : The Story of BC Packers
The Western Star delivering herring to Imperial Cannery
The Western Star delivering herring to Imperial Cannery reduction plant during the 1940s. The boat is so full of fish that even the deck is covered in herring!
City of Richmond Archives 1977 22 47
The Western Star delivering herring to Imperial Cannery


During the herring fishing season boat after heavily laden boat arrived at the cannery dock to deliver herring. According to retired unloader, Joe Yarmish, unloading herring was "tough slogging" during the 1940s and 1950s. "You had to shovel all of that fish into the marine leg... it was hard work. Boat after boat after boat." Eventually, the hard work of getting thousands of tonnes of herring into the reduction plant was eased when pump systems were introduced in British Columbia. "All you do is hold onto a hose [and] pour the water in. It was very good".

Another worker offered this perspective about working on the dock: "I'll tell you why we used the broad-brimmed hat... have you ever seen a boat-load of fish, herring size, come to the dock, especially if it was the daytime? Have you seen where the seagulls are?" And the boats just kept coming. As one former unloader recalled, "You might just get home and figure, well, I've been working 14-15 hours. Now it's time I maybe get to bed. You get a phone call and back out again and start up again. Another boat's coming up so time to get back down there."
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