The Rhythm of the Line
A Canning line was not a place where you wanted a machine breakdown of any kind. With each machine sending cans to the next at speeds of over one hundred per minute, any pause or delay meant chaos and a lot of unhappy workers! It was the Lineman's job to keep things running smoothly from the weighing machine to the vacuum closing machine. An experienced lineman was always ready for trouble. In giant canneries like B.C Packers' Imperial Cannery, several canning lines would be running, producing incredible noise. From the roar of the belts, pulleys and motors to the metallic music of metal cans to the ‘pop, pop, pop' of the vacuum pumps, a jammed or broken down machine interrupted the rhythm of the line, sending the Lineman quickly into action!
Former B.C. Packers employee Don Gordon, part of a whole family of cannery Linemen and managers, was a young man working at B.C. Packers' Namu Plant on British Columbia's central coast in 1947. "My uncle was a Lineman", Don recalled, "and he always used to sit on the bench...and he'd fall sound asleep, but as soon as any machine stopped he was wide awake and ran over to see what was wrong!"