In 2009, Port Edward Historical Society received a $30,000 grant from Northern Development through the Community Halls and Recreation Facilities program towards this $351,634 project. This has been a funding partnership of Port Edward Historical Society, Northern Development, BC Heritage Legacy Fund, Coast Sustainability Trust, and Human Resources and Skills Development Canada
2012- Built in 1889 and in continuous operation until 1980, North Pacific Cannery is the oldest remaining intact remote cannery on the West Coast of North America. In the 1980’s, it became a tourist attraction and was designated a Canadian National Historic Site. Currently, the site welcomes over 15,000 visitors per year, hosts numerous cultural events and functions, and acts as Port Edward’s main community event space. Despite its charm, the facilities were not ideally suited to accommodating a variety of event hosting functions. In order to capture new revenue generating opportunities, the Port Edward Historical Society undertook a project to designate and reconfigure a portion of the site as a community gathering and event space in order to expand its hosting capabilities.
The Historical Society began improvements to the Cannery which included updates to the board walk, redesigning of the entrance, restoration of six buildings in the south-west of the compound, and a comprehensive upgrade to the can making building, establishing a new events space for the communities of Port Edward and Prince Rupert.
"This project has been a winner for everyone! 13 full-time jobs were created for 8 months, building relevant skills and work experience for participants who were previously out of the workforce. Several historic buildings were stabilized and conserved, preserving the commemorative integrity of the site and increasing access for visitors. The events space was stabilized, restored, and upgraded including new washrooms with capacity to support special events, bus charters, and cruise traffic!"Steve Milum, Manager of Conservation and Operations, North Pacific Cannery
"Northern Development assisted with funding for materials and helped the Port Edward Historical Society secure further funding to meet the project's full scope. Since project completion, the site has hosted three major events, serving 200 - 300 people per event, as well as 60+ buses from the charter and cruise industry. The Cannery Cafe restaurant received an outstanding response that resulted in record breaking sales in 2010 despite plans for a soft opening. North Pacific Cannery is excited about its new capacity to host large groups and looks forward to supporting the community and visitors through these new means."Steve Milum, Manager of Conservation and Operations, North Pacific Cannery
The Gathering and Event Space project has been part of a much larger strategic initiative to reinvigorate the North Pacific Cannery, establish it as one of the key cultural and historic sites in Western Canada, and enable the facility to become an economic driver for tourism in northwest British Columbia.
The facility annually hosts sporting events such as the Cannery Road Relay, as well as one-time events such as the International Adventure Race, which drew participants and film crews from around the world in 2008. The Cannery was also host to the Southeast Alaska Conference in 2009, which brought delegates, government officials and business interests from throughout their State to Prince Rupert for three days. Other opportunities to host gatherings such corporate events, meetings for delegations related to the Port, cruise ship excursions, and cultural events and performances like Udderfest and a small Gallery Space, will reinforce the cultural significance of the North Pacific Cannery. The facility is also poised to host youth programs in the summer for education, arts and activities, which once thrived at the North Pacific Cannery, but were limited due to the facility's amenities prior to this project.
The new Gathering and Event Space is delivering many benefits to the region, including increased revenue for the Cannery, additional volume in visitations from cruises, and an increase in revenue and employment at the Mess Hall Restaurant. The new community space is also helping regional residents develop service industry skills associated with hosting events.