From the beginning, British Columbia's fishermen represented a diverse mix of European nationalities. These men were often the sons of pioneer settlers looking to make a dollar on the summer sockeye run. Many of these fishermen were of English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish heritage, but they were joined by Greeks, Yugoslavians, Finns, Norwegians, Swedes, Germans, Italians, French, Spaniards, and Portuguese, to name only a few. By the 1890s, quite a few would be replaced by immigrant Japanese fishermen. Eventually, many would hang up their fishing nets and head north to follow dreams of riches in the Klondike gold rush of the Yukon.
While a few of these European groups played only a fleeting role in the industry, many others made lasting contributions. Some would contribute technological innovation, like Finn Laurie Jarvis, who patented the first gillnet drum. Others would contribute fine craftsmanship, like Icelander Geiri Sigurgeirson, a Steveston boat builder. Still other groups, such as the Greeks and Croatians, have been contributing to the industry since the very beginning. Back.