In 1895, Scottish entrepreneur, engineer and outdoor adventurer Henry Ogle Bell-Irving built the Good Hope Cannery in Rivers Inlet, BC.
As sole agent for the Anglo-British Columbia Packing Company, Bell-Irving effectively controlled the company, which grew to include cannery operations on the west coast from Washington State to Alaska. For years the operation was astronomically successful, but profits were realized on the backs of skilled Chinese and native
cannery workers, and on the know-how of northern Europeans and Japanese fishermen.
Good Hope canned salmon continuously until 1940 and thereafter served company fishermen as a place where they could refuel, eat, buy supplies and have their boats and nets prepared. By the late 1960s, depleted fish stocks and technological advances rendered Good Hope obsolete as a camp.
But a Bell-Irving descendent, grandson Ian Bell-Irving, envisioned
Good Hope as a sport fishing resort catering to affluent North Americans, and so Good Hope entered the third phase of its life — a life that continues to this day.
The Good Hope Cannery and the Goose Bay Cannery are all that are left of an important era in B.C.’s history: all the other canneries in Rivers Inlet have vanished.
The Good Hope Cannery: Life and Death at a Salmon Cannery is a story of the people who built it, worked in it, fished for it and welcomed guests to it.
Bruce MacDonald looks deeply into the personalities and everyday lives, and sometimes tragic deaths, of the colourful characters of the Good Hope Cannery.
Lower Mainland writer W.B. (Bruce) MacDonald will present a slideshow and share stories from his book at the Comox Archives and Museum on Dec. 7 at 6 p.m.
— Caitlin Press