In Their Words : The Story of BC Packers
Filled cans of salmon entering an automatic filling machine
Filled cans of salmon entering an automatic filling machine. Underweight cans and sent to the patching table. Paramount Cannery, circa 1960.
City of Richmond Archives 1985 4 567
Filled cans of salmon entering an automatic filling machine Busy women patchers at Imperial Cannery during the 1970s A close-up view of women patching cans at Imperial Cannery during the 1960s First Nations women patching salmon cans during the 1940s Japanese-Canadian women working at a patching table

Weighing and Patching the Cans

Automatic weighing machines made sure consumers got their money's worth by checking that each can contained the correct weight of salmon. Properly filled cans were conveyed down the line to the salter and clincher. Underweight cans were fed to the patching table. Women expertly corrected each underweight can by ‘patching' in a little salmon to make the proper weight. It may have been monotonous and repetitive work, but patching demanded quick, skillful fingers. With the filling machine pumping out over one hundred cans a minute, the patchers had to be fast or else be buried in cans!

Experienced women patchers could tell with a touch when a can was right. If too many underweight cans came their way they were quick to give the Fillerman an earful! The patching crews also fixed rejects pulled off the line by inspectors unsatisfied with the way the fish looked in cans. This meant snipping off any bones that stood out, turning visible salmon skin to the side and cleaning any mess from the outside of the can. The tools of their trade were scissors, knives and a scale for reweighing the cans, not to mention patience and skill.

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