Autumn is the spawning season in B.C. when salmon fight their way upstream as they complete their final journey. On Campbell River in Vancouver Island or Capilano River in North Vancouver, you’ll be sure to spot salmon leaping their way back home. For this post, we gathered historical images related to salmon in B.C. from our Open Collections, hoping to provide you a taste of these incredible creatures.

The Chung Collection contains books, archival documents, artifacts and photographs about the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, early British Columbian history, and immigration and settlement in BC. This picture in the book By track and trail: a journey through Canada from the Chung Collection illustrates a run of salmon in the Fraser River at North Bend, B.C.

By track and trail: a journey through Canada, 1891, p. 392

As the author and illustrator Edward Roper explained:

The illustration of this scene is not an atom exaggerated, except that I have made the fish more visible, but they were even closer packed in the water than I have shown.

Let’s take a close look. This photo from Fisherman Publishing Society Collection shows how packed they can be!

Salmon run, 1977

This postcard from Uno Langmann Family Collection of B.C. Photographs captures salmon jumping over water.

Salmon leaping the falls, [between 1900 and 1930?]

Salmon watching and fishing are fun activities in many places in B.C. A lot of pamphlets in the Chung Collection list it as one of the best things to do in B.C. This photo is from a pamphlet related to trips to Vancouver Island aboard Princess ships. Look how big the fish can be!

Vancouver Island, an island of enchantment, 1922, p. 27

Another pamphlet that promotes salmon fishing in Victoria, B.C.

Victoria, 1930, p. 19

This photo, from a Canadian Pacific Railway pamphlet, shows fish ladders on the Fraser River. The ladders permit salmon to make their way upstream to spawn in the fresh waters where they were born.

By train… through the Canadian Rockies, [1950?], p. 21

In this map of Vancouver Island, you can even find an “S” in the legend which stands for salmon fishing.

Map of Vancouver Island, [between 1940 and 1951?], p. 8

Finally, here’s a photo depicting Chinese workers unloading salmon at Butterfield and Mackie Cannery, New Westminster, B.C.

Unloading salmon at a cannery, [between 1910 and 1919?]

Open Collections has several collections related to fishing. Today, we will introduce a few of these collections and our favourite digitized items!

Fisherman Publishing Society Collection

In the Fisherman Publishing Society Collection, we have digitized around 4,000 photographs taken from 1862 to 1989. The Fisherman Publishing Society formed in 1937 and had published a bi-weekly newspaper, The Fisherman, for the Salmon Purse Seiners Union and its successor, the United Fisherman and Allied Workers’ Union. The paper was about the fishing industry and union events to promote unity among West Coast fishermen. The photographs depict labour and union activity, fish and fishing vessels, and the men and women who worked in the fishing industry. The archival collections are housed in UBC Rare Books and Special Collections, with other correspondence, a scrapbook, meeting minutes, ships’ logs and the Harry Allison papers.

 

View of Dave Carlson’s boat the Spirit of B.C. at launching June, 1968.

 

Herring sale by Fishers Union at New Westminster to aid CKNW orphans fund December, 1968.

 

Hawthorn Fly Fishing & Angling Collection

UBC Library has more than 2,200 books on angling and fly-fishing, known as the Harry Hawthorn Collection. The collection started when a group of UBC professors went fishing for a holiday in 1953. They decided to launch a foundation with the accumulated money from various bets and fines for alleged illegal or non-ethical fishing methods. The current members of the Foundation are continuing this tradition to go fly-fishing in early August, and the increased funding has gone towards developing the collection.

In Open Collections, we have digitized around 50 representative titles as Hawthorn Fly Fishing & Angling Collection with generous support by the Harry Hawthorn Foundation.

 

Sparrow, Walter Shaw. Angling in British art through five centuries: prints, pictures, books, 1923.

 

[Lang, Cecil]. The mighty mahseer and other fish : or hints to beginners on Indian fishing, 1906.

 

Traité général des pesches

Traité général des pesches consists of a digitized book with two volumes, Traité général des pesches, et histoire des poissons qu’elles fournissent, tant pour la subsistance des hommes, que pour plusieurs autres usages qui on rapport aux arts et au commerce, [between 1769-1782]. These volumes, written by a French physician and botanist, Henri-Louis Duhamel du Monceau (1700-1782) and Jean-Louis De La Marre between 1769 and 1782, were considered one of the finest works on fishing and fisheries.

Duhamel du Monceau, M. Traité général des pesches, et histoire des poissons qu’elles fournissent, tant pour la subsistance des hommes, que pour plusieurs autres usages qui on rapport aux arts et au commerce, [between 1769-1782].

Duhamel du Monceau, M. Traité général des pesches, et histoire des poissons qu’elles fournissent, tant pour la subsistance des hommes, que pour plusieurs autres usages qui on rapport aux arts et au commerce. Seconde partie, [between 1769-1782].

Along with the entire volumes, we also separately digitized all of the illustrated plates in the books:

 

Duhamel du Monceau, M. Part 1, Section 1, Plate 2, [between 1769-1782].

Duhamel du Monceau, M. Part 2, Section 1, Plate 10, [between 1769-1782].

UBC Institute of Fisheries Field Records

UBC Institute of Fisheries Field Records have more than 10,000 digitized records on fish specimens in the UBC Fish Collection housed in the Beaty Biodiversity Museum, which is the third-largest fish collection in Canada.

The fish records include information about where and what kinds of fish were caught. This data has been used in environmental assessments, conservation efforts and research projects in an aquatic ecosystem.

The oldest record in 1877, for instance, shows the record of Hyperoplus lanceolatus (Greater sand eel) caught in Estonia:

UBC Institute of Fisheries Field Record B.C. 63-943, 1877.

 

The latest record in 1991 have 13 different types of fishes caught near Helby Island, BC:

UBC Institute of Fisheries Filed Record B.C. 90-191, 1991.

 

If you want to explore more about these collections, please visit our past blog posts:

 

References

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