Boats brought the salmon from the fishing grounds to the cannery. Groups of men called unloaders used peughs to fling each salmon into a mechanical elevator which carrried them into the cannery. By the 1960s, big powerful cranes lifted boxfuls of salmon from the boats into the cannery. In the 1970s, boats stored the salmon in refrigerated seawater and the canneries pumped it all out with big wide hoses. Once inside the cannery, the salmon were tallied, weighed, graded and placed in large holding bins.
Former salmon unloader Neill Chan recalls, "When they all come in, [the salmon are] all mixed, that's the collector boats, it's all iced you see. They have no time to sort it out then so they would put them all on ice... You would unload, unload and put them on the deck. And we look for the colouring of the salmon, the heads and the markings on the back and the tail. And put it to one side and the one they were unloading, the main one, we throw it into the chute. And when all of the one kind of salmon was finished... they change the bin and they start unloading the other fish and that's how they separate all the fish."
Former worker George P. Mah recalls how demanding unloading could be: "It was hard work, cause some of the fish, you work 14 hours a day. Because the fish boats they would come one right after the other. You finished one, you go on to another and pull out and another one come in."