UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Technological change in the Fraser River salmon canning industry, 1871-1912 Stacey, Duncan A.


British Columbia's salmon industry is currently one of the province's major sources of income. Its development from a primitive fishery to a highly organized industrial operation has had many phases, one of the most significant occuring in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In this period several technological developments freed the industry from expensive and unreliable manual labour and laid the basis for the modern industry's organization. This study investigates the innovations made in fishing, packing, and canning machinery and shows how intimately related these developments were to each other. A central point in this thesis is the argument that the industry's development at this time was not due to the introduction of a major invention (the "great man" theory applied to machines) but rather to a series of interlocking, mutually supporting innovations which tended to occur in clusters. Another point is that these innovations were called forth by chronic labour shortages which afflicted the province in its early history. Some space is also given to the effects of technology on the workers and canners of the period. Whenever possible primary source material has been used, including company records, letters and other papers of the early canners, early newspaper and periodical accounts, government reports and regulations of the time, and interviews with pioneers of the fishing industry. Secondary sources have, as much as possible, been restricted to clarification or supplementation of the original material.

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