Preserving maritime history on the North Coast

A liquefied natural gas proponent, the library and the cannery museum have come together to preserve maritime history on the North Coast.

A liquefied natural gas proponent, the community library and the cannery museum have come together in an unique collaboration to preserve maritime history on the North Coast.

In 2014, Nexen Aurora LNG purchased the property on Casey Cove, and adopted the crumbling buildings from a marine supply station in 1912 that was repurposed in the Second World War to be a military outpost.

There are six buildings still standing on the site and one that has caved in on itself. The buildings housed industrial equipment, including one magnificent 12,000 lb overhead crane for lifting marine buoys that still moves by hand. There were buildings for the full-time workers, the bachelors bunk house, houses for married men and an impressive superintendent’s home.

The proponent is considering Digby Island as a potential location for an LNG facility and needs to tear down the unstable buildings to ensure safety on their site for their workforce and for the general public.

“At the same time there’s some interesting artifacts. There’s some big pieces of timber. We didn’t want to bring it all down and send it to a landfill. There’s a lot of history there,” said the site development manager for Aurora LNG, Andrew Hamilton.

Before the land had been purchased by the proponent, Lou Allison, who works at the Prince Rupert Library, had toured the buildings with the previous owner. Allison lives in Dodge Cove, adjacent to Casey Cove, and the preservation of the artifacts, and the massive crane, on the site became a mission that she and the library took on.

“I was lamenting the fact that this was just going to be destroyed when the company took all the buildings down, or when time inevitably knocked them down,” Allison said.

She reached out to the proponent to find out what was left on the site and she discussed with the deputy librarian, Kathleen Larkin, how they could find an institution in the province that would take the remaining artifacts.

“One of the roles that libraries play is we do research for people. We get research questions all the time. Kathleen has done probably thousands, hundreds of research questions for people,” Allison said.

Allison contacted marine museums in Vancouver and others but none would bite due to the remoteness of the location and the cost to move the crane and heavy industrial machinery. Then she started talking to the manager of the North Pacific Cannery Museum, Lesley Moore, who expressed an interest.

Three weeks ago, the cannery, the library and the proponent came together to view the site at Casey Cove. Steve Milum, the restoration manager at the cannery, also joined the crew and saw the possibilities of using materials from a similar era as the cannery window frames, doors, light switches and hardware are consistent with the cannery’s era.

“The main things we saw that are useful are old windows with the old glass from pre-1940s that have ripples in it, which is hard to get. You can’t access that stuff anymore,” Milum said.

Milum has taken four of his crew members, who are part of the North Pacific Cannery Industry Trades Training and Conservation Project, and travelled to Casey Cove to salvage some of the materials from the buildings. The crew, who are apprenticing to be construction craft workers, bridgemen pile drivers or carpenters, also received some additional experience in how Nexen safety program operates on site.

“A big part of our safety program is getting our crew up to speed with industry standards and we went through their safety program which just echoed everything that we taught our guys,” Milum said.

Nexen is providing transportation of the materials from the Casey Cove to the cannery and Hamilton said they are happy to support this.

The library and Allison has fulfilled the duty as a community liaison and has stepped out from the process now that at least some of the heritage materials have found a home.

The fate of the crane has yet to be decided.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Power outages affected thousands of BC Hydro customers in the north on Jan. 14 (File photo) (File photo)
Power outages affect thousands of BC Hydro customers in northern B.C.

Transmission failure led to outages in Prince Rupert and Port Edward

A Prince Rupert port expansion project received a $25 million investment from the provincial government, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure announced on Jan. 14. Seen here is Ridley Terminals Inc., a coal export terminal in Prince Rupert (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)
$25 million government investment in Prince Rupert port expansion project

Prince Rupert port expansion project expected to create more than 2,200 jobs

For the second time in less than a year, Air Canada announced on Jan. 13 it has suspended flights on the Prince Rupert-Vancouver route as of Jan 17. (Photo by: Jerold Leblanc)
Cessation of flights to YPR will affect the municipal economy and global trade, P.R. Mayor said

Chamber of Commerce said it will aggressively pursue the resumption of flights to Prince Rupert

Air Canada has suspended flights to Prince Rupert Regional Airport due to COVID-19 mitigation, the airline announced on Jan. 13. (Photo:THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
YPR is not immune to plummeted air travel demands – 25 jobs lost

Prince Rupert Regional Airport flight cancellation will levee significant hardship - Rick Leach

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the press theatre at the B.C. legislature for an update on COVID-19, Jan. 7, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 spread steady with 509 new cases Friday

Hospitalized and critical care cases decline, nine deaths

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government reinforces importance of anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Black Press media file
Port McNeill driver tells police he thought the pandemic meant no breathalyzers

Suspect facing criminal charges after breathalyzer readings in excess of 3.5 times the legal limit

Forestry companies in B.C. agree to abide by the cedar protocols based on traditional laws of the First Nation members of the Nanwakolas Council. (Photo courtesy, Nanwakolas Council)
Landmark deal sees B.C. forest firms treat big cedars like a First Nation would

Western Forest Products, Interfor among companies to adapt declaration drafted by Nanwakolas Council

Most Read