Fonds RBSC-ARC-1063 - British Columbia Packers Limited fonds

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British Columbia Packers Limited fonds

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4.2 m of textual records and other material

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(1928 - 1996)

Administrative history

British Columbia Packers Limited was created in 1928, following a series of amalgamations in the North American fish packing industry that had begun in the late 19th century. These amalgamations had included, in 1902, the creation of the British Columbia Packers Association of New Jersey by a group of American and Canadian investors, and their subsequent purchase of forty-two canneries and two cold storage plants. Led by Canadian businessmen Aemilius Jarvis of Toronto and Henry Doyle of Vancouver, it was the first successful attempt to amalgamate the canneries of the Fraser River. In 1910, to avoid the payment of New Jersey corporate tax, the company was registered in British Columbia through an act of the provincial legislature. In 1914, the principals of British Columbia Packers Association incorporated a new company under charter of the Dominion of Canada. Initially a holding company, in 1921 the British Columbia Fishing and Packing Company Limited became the operating company for the assets of British Columbia Packers Association.

In 1928, having undergone a major expansion of its operations through the acquisition of Wallace Fisheries Limited, British Columbia Fishing and Packing merged with Gosse Packing Company Limited to create British Columbia Packers Limited. In 1934, all of the subsidiary companies holding the assets controlled and operated by British Columbia Packers Limited were liquidated, and the assets transferred to the latter.

The company evolved into a horizontally and vertically integrated entity that featured a world-wide marketing and distribution network. At the peak of its growth, British Columbia Packers controlled assets by direct ownership or through wholly-owned subsidiary companies that included fishing stations, fish and fruit canneries, fresh fish branches, fish-curing establishments, cold storage plants, reduction plants, food testing laboratories, whaling stations, general stores, and shipyards. These included, at various times, the following:

Operational Sites in British Columbia:
Alert Bay Cannery
Bella Bella Cannery
Bella Coola Cannery (fishing station)
Boswell Cannery (fishing station)
Brunswick Cannery (fishing station)
Celtic Shipyards
Claxton Cannery
Currie McWilliams Cannery
Delta Plant
Ecoole Reduction Plant
Hecate Reduction Plant
Imperial Cannery
Imperial Plant (and fishing stations)
Kildonan Cannery
Kimsquit Cannery (fishing station)
Ladner Cannery
Lowe Inlet Cannery (fishing station)
Mill Bay Cannery (store)
Namu Cannery (reduction plant)
New Westminster Cannery
Pacofi Cannery (reduction plant)
Paramount Cannery
Port Edward Cannery
Quathiaski Plant
Richmond Plant
Saanich Cannery
St. Mungo Cannery
Seal Cove Plant
Shannon Bay Cannery
Sunnyside Cannery
Terra Nova Cannery
Victoria Cold Storage Plant
Wadham’s (cannery, general store)

Related Companies:
Allied Pacfic Processors
Bay Point Oyster Farms (U.S.A)
Brunswick Development Corporation Limited
Canadian Fish and Cold Storage Company Limited
Canadian Packing Company Limited
Coast Oyster Company (U.S.A.)
Coast Oyster Company of California (U.S.A.)
Connors Bros. Limited
Edmunds and Walker Limited
Humboldt Oyster Company (U.S.A.)
Mar Seafoods (Fishing Company Incorporated)
McCallum Sales Limited
Nelbro Holding Company (U.S.A.)
Nelbro Packing Company (U.S.A.)
Nelson Brothers Fisheries Limited (Queensborough Shipyard)
North American Testing Limited
Port Edward Marine Services Limited
Queen Charlotte Canners Limited
Rupert Fish Company Incorporated (U.S.A.)
Rupert’s Certi-Fresh Foods, Incorporated (U.S.A.)
Rupert’s International Sales Corporation (U.S.A.)
Sea Breeze, Incorporated (U.S.A.)
J.H. Todd and Sons Limited
Western Canada Whaling Company Limited
Willapa Oyster Farms (U.S.A.)

Much of British Columbia Packers expansion outside of British Columbia took place after the Second World War. It began to acquire sales offices and production facilities in the United States in the late 1940’s, and this continued in the following decade. For example, the company acquired Freeman’s Certi-Fresh Foods of Los Angeles, California, in 1954, and Coast Oyster Company, with assets in California and Washington, in 1956. In 1957, it acquired interests in fishing operations in Peru. In 1967, British Columbia Packers began a joint venture with Nelson Brothers Fisheries Limited in herring meal and oil production at Isle aux Morts, Newfoundland. In the late 1970’s, British Columbia Packers acquired a 30 percent interest in Mar Fishing Company, Inc., which produced tuna out of a plant in Mindanao, Philippines.

In 1968, R.I. Nelson of Nelson Brothers Fisheries Limited became President and Chief Executive Officer of British Columbia Packers, marking the integration of this company and British Columbia Packers Limited. Also during this decade, British Columbia Packers was itself acquired by the Weston group of companies.

British Columbia Packers appears to have struggled in the early 1980’s, and with the fishing industry as a whole, began a period of change and restructuring. Its operations were dissolved in 1996 and 1997 through merger with Canadian Fisheries Company Limited; a successor company, BCPL Limited, owned by George Weston Limited, undertook the disposition of British Columbia Packers real property and other assets. (The bulk of British Columbia Packers executive and legal records have apparently been transferred to George Weston Limited, and did not form part of Accession 2001-34.)

British Columbia Packers appears to have been administered out of head offices in Vancouver until 1968, and thereafter in Steveston. At the company’s peak of size and scope in the late 1970’s, eight Vice-Presidents were responsible for the following functional or operational designations: finance, planning, marketing, Pacific operations, production/British Columbia operations, Philippine operations, United States operations, and industrial relations.

The chief executive officers of British Columbia Packers and its immediate predecessors were as follows:
British Columbia Packers’ Association (of New Jersey)
Alexander Ewen, President, 1902-1907
William Henry Barker, President, 1907-1914
British Columbia Fishing and Packing Company Limited
William Henry Barker, President, 1914-1926
Aemilius Jarvis, President, 1926-1928
British Columbia Packers Limited
Aemilius Jarvis, President, 1928-1930; Chairman, 1930-1932
Stanley Burke, President, 1930-1933
H.R. Macmillan, President, 1933-1946; Chairman, 1946-1956
J.M. Buchanan, President, 1946-1956, 1958-1964; Chairman, 1956-1958
R.E. Walker, President, 1956-1958
J.N. Hyland, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, 1964-1967
K.F. Fraser, President, 1964-1967
R.I. Nelson, President and Chief Executive Officer, 1969-1974; Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, 1975-
G.E. Creber, Chairman, 1969-
J.B. Buchanan, President and Chief Operating Officer, 1979-1982 (Vice-Chairman 1983-
Donald A. McLean, President, 1983-

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Scope and content

The fonds consists of records generated by British Columbia Packers Limited, its predecessor bodies, and individual canneries and plants owned by the company. In addition to financial records, it includes plant appraisements for various canneries and properties owned by B.C. Packers Ltd., as well as Canadian Fish and Cold Storage Company Ltd., Coast Oyster Company, Edmunds and Walker Ltd., J.H. Todd and Sons Limited, Nelson Bros. Fisheries Ltd., Nelbro Packing Co., Queen Charlotte Canners Ltd., Rupert Fish Co. Incorporated and Western Canada Whaling Company Ltd. Those canneries and properties include Alert Bay Cannery, Bella Bella Cannery, Boswell Cannery, Celtic Shipyards, Imperial Plant, Kildonan, Klemtu, Ladner Cannery, Masset, Namu Cannery, New Westminster Cannery, Paramount Cannery, Port Edward Cannery, Prince Rupert Plant, Quathiaski Plant, Richmond Plant, and St. Mungo Cannery. In addition, the fonds consists of fifty printer's blocks for producing lithograph salmon tin labels and approximately 100 plastic cards used for advertising fish products. Also included are miscellaneous items such as the Roll of Honour of the B.C. Canning Company listing men in service during World War I, Fraser River charts (ca. 1929-1947), a sample of receipts for tram passes to B.C., and a framed sheet describing the history of the Bella Coola camp.

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Boxes 16 to 20 contain printing plates and unprocessed materials.

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Inventory available. PDF document attached.

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Physical description

Includes 69 photographs, 7 reference maps, 4 sketches, 4 building plans, 3 maps, 1 site plan and ca. 5 boxes of printing plates

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