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Fonds 001 - The Cannery Building
- 1890-1899 (Creation)
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Area: Mission Flats
Location: 6967 Bridge Street
Originally a wood frame industrial building, The Cannery Building has been modified over the years for various uses, primarily food processing. It was located on the corner of Harbour and Bridge Street, at the North end of the CPR Bridge. The CPR tracks ran behind the building (west side), which was essential for freight. There is currently a newer cinder block building on the site, occupied by Monague Crafts Ltd.
Also known as:
Truro Condensed Milk Co. (1900 to 1910), the Kootenay Jam Company (1911-1914), King-Beach Manufacturing Co., Farmers' Canning Coop (1922-?), and Canadian Canners Company (1924-1957)
The building was originally built as a fish cannery. By the 1900's it was being used as a milk cannery. The Western Condensed Milk, Cannery, Coffee and Creamery Company ran a paddlewheel boat along the Fraser from Nicomen Island to Mission. The boat picked up approximately six tons of milk a day and delivered it to the plant where it was processed into Rocky Mountain Truro Condensed Milk and Hilt Edge Butter and shipped to White Rock, New Westminster, and Vancouver. Competition from the BC Electric Railway on the south side of the river opened new markets to the dairy farmers, and the mild plant could no longer compete, closing down in 1910.
The building was sold and re-opened as the Kootenay Jam Factory in 1911; head offices were in England, and the plant was moved here from Nelson, B.C.. The site was a building 75 by 100 feet covering 11 lots. Extensive additions and new machinery were added. When completed the factory covered a large area; the length over two hundred and thirty feet, width eighty feet in width at the widest portion. In the first year of operation, the plant processed twenty tons of raspberries, fifteen tons of strawberries, five tons of gooseberries, and five tons of currants. Products were shipped to Vancouver by train.
In 1915 it was bought out by the King-Beach Chocolate and Jam Factory. Purchased first by Mr. Harry Beach for processing jams, a partnership with Mr. R.P. King soon resulted in the addition of new products. By producing chocolate during the slower season when fresh produce was not available for jam, the company was able to remain open all year. The factory employed fifty women at two dollars a day. Local milk was used in the manufacture of chocolate bars and the "big puff cherry chocolate", which also contained a generous amount of brandy.
Following the war, the berry market was booming, and prices increased from 5 cents a pound to 22 cents a pound in 1921. Many farmers bought into the newly formed Fruit & Mercantile Company. Part of the King Beach property was sold to Associated Growers, who kept Mr. Beach in charge of their operations. In 1922, the rest of the plant was bought by the Anglo BC Packing Co (salmon packers) who ran business until 1924 when it was sold to the Canadian Canners Co., which was in turn bought by Aylmer, who continued operation until 1957. Hundreds of seasonal workers were kept busy processing beets, corn, peas and beans. The Mission Archives and Lifetime Learning Society have a wealth of oral histories about working in the food processing plants.
Evidence of the age of the building could be seen on one of its walls where the 1894 flood had left its mark. In 1948, the building was again flooded about 10 feet up. In 1963 aerial photograph the building is still visible however a 1974 aerial photograph shows the buildings on the site demolished and new building being constructed.
The site is has been occupied by Monague Native Crafts Ltd. since 2006.
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