In Their Words : The Story of BC Packers
The Big Bertah filling machine at Imperial cannery
The 'Big Bertha' filling machine at Imperial Cannery, circa 1960s. The woman is feeding whole salmon into the machine’s built-in gang knives. The fillerman is making sure everything runs smoothly. Notice the cans coming down into the machine at centre.
City of Richmond Archives 1985 4 607
The Big Bertha filling machine at Imperial Cannery Empty cans entering the filling machine and exit right A closeup of women feeding salmon into a Big Bertha filling machine First Nations women feeding cut salmon into filling machines

Filling the Cans

Automatic filling machines stuffed cans with salmon at more than 100 cans a minute. Women fed the cut salmon pieces down a chute into the filling machine. The machine compacted the fish then forced it through a can-sized pocket and into, the can. By the 1960s, the ‘Big Bertha' filling machine was introduced. It was even more efficient. Whole cleaned salmon were fed directly into this filling machine. It had internal gang knives built right in. This machine cut salmon to size and filled cans at the same time.

Most of the time these big complex machines ran smoothly. Every once in a while though a can would get stuck. The Fillerman had to act fast to clear the problem. He was the operator who tended the machine and kept it in perfect working order.

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