North Pacific Cannery is unique among the few remaining historical west coast commercial salmon canneries. It was established in 1889 and is the oldest fish cannery on the west coast of North America and ran continuously for almost 100 years. Because of its unique history and the fact it is one of the very few remote canneries that is almost entirely intact, North Pacific Cannery has been designated a National Historic Site by Parks Canada, one of only three National Historic Sites located in northern British Columbia.
North Pacific Cannery is an important tourism attraction on BC's north coast region and the area surrounding Prince Rupert. Featuring an industrial heritage canning complex and 29 historic buildings - which served as workers' living quarters, administration, and other support functions - the site stands on a network of 1000's of pilings and is connected by raised wooden boardwalk paths that lead visitors to spanning views of Inverness Passage at the mouth of the mighty Skeena River.
Located 20 minutes from Prince Rupert and only 5 km south of Port Edward, the National Historic Site offers guided tours of the cannery's belt driven salmon processing and can making machinery, First Nations' net loft, company office, and company store, all filled with antiques and artifacts from a time gone by. Throughout the site, visitors can view north coast BC wildlife such as bald eagles, seals, and blue herons, while also taking in the local marine activity along the waterways including crabbing boats, gillnetters (fishing boats) , barges and yachts. Guests can also find local artizan souveniers and boutique merchandise in the new welcome centre gift shop as well as pressed coffee, fresh baking, and homemade salmon chowder at the Cannery Cafe, located in the historic Mess House.
Under this Northern Development Marketing Initiatives funded project, the Port Edward Historical Society undertook a complete re-branding of the National Historic Site, including a new logo and marketing materials which include signage, event banners, and tourism rack cards in an effort to increase awareness of the site with locals and to attract new visitors to the site and the north coast region. The society also produced new roadside billboards that were placed along Highway 16. These promotional materials are now being displayed in high traffic areas such as visitor information centres, hotels, BC Ferries, Alaska Ferries, the Airport, and local businesses.
"Northern Development's funding was instrumental in accomplishing North Pacific Cannery's Tourism Marketing Campaign, which increased awareness of the site and built credibility and momentum for other large conservation and interpretation projects to follow. Today, the National Historic Site is well on its way to becoming a world class heritage site and we continually receive positive feedback regarding the signs and other marketing tools that were developed for this project. Thank you Northern Development!"
Steve Milum, Manager, Conservation and Operations, North Pacific Cannery
"The continued support of the North Pacific Cannery Museum by Northern Development has been an integral part of this National Historic Site's success. Through the Marketing Initiatives program, Northern Development has contributed to the continued branding and awareness efforts of the cannery. Tourism is a major industry for our region and the cannery museum is well on its way to becoming a major attraction for the various guests that visit each year."
Derek Baker, Economic Development Officer, Prince Rupert and Port Edward
Positive Economic Impacts in Port Edward
The new marketing promotes the site as one of the most significant heritage sites and visitor attractions in the region, and has been successful in generating an increase in visitation that is directly supporting improved financial sustainability for this important tourism-focused non-profit organization.
With an increased number of group tours from buses, cruise ships, and rail, as well as from walk-ins, the Cannery has seen its revenues escalate, and expects to see a continued growth over the coming years. The Society has also seen an increase in retail sales, food services, accommodations, and event space rentals.
Marketing has been a powerful tool that is resulting in many economic benefits for North Pacific Cannery, as well as the substantial economic spinoffs the society is creating in its neighbouring communities of Port Edward and Prince Rupert.
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In 2010, Port Edward Historical Society received a $10,000 grant from Northern Development through the Marketing Initiatives program towards this $35,000 project.