In this installment of our blog series featuring resources from Rare Books and Special Collections relating to B.C. places used as room names in the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, we will take a look at Namu. If you are not from B.C., the name “Namu” might bring memories of the famous captive whale (they even made a movie about him). To British Columbians, Namu is an abandoned cannery town and ancient First Nations site, about 150 km North of the tip of Vancouver Island, on B.C.’s central coast. In the Barber Centre, the Namu room is a meeting room on the first floor.

Namu is significant to First Nations communities and to archeologists because the site shows continuous, seasonal use for some 10,000 years (see these resources from Simon Fraser University.) In more recent times, Namu was used by fisheries as a cannery site. RBSC has a lot of collections related to canneries, including the B.C. Packer’s Association who ran the cannery in Namu throughout much of the 20th century. The photograph below, of the Namu Cannery however comes from our general historic photograph collections:


Historical photograph of cannery taken from water

Photo BC 1311/2, Namu Cannery


This photograph is on a postcard, and has been dated to around the 1920’s.

For descriptions of archival collections related to canneries:

– Perform an advanced search in the library catalogue
– Specify “archival/mixed collections” as the type and use keywords such as cannery, canning and canneries.

For more information on our photograph collections, please visit our Historical Photographs research guide.

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