Tucked in a cove at the confluence of the Burke Channel and Fitz Hugh Sound in Northern British Columbia is the ghost town of Namu. The village of Namu was once an active hub for the fishing industry and had a population of 400 cannery workers and other personnel, along with their families. Today, this cannery site stands in ruins, a reminder of more prosperous times.
It was Robert Draney and family who first established a cannery at Namu in 1893, followed by a sawmill in 1909 to provide lumber for salmon cases. As with most canneries in the earlier years, labor was segregated into groups of First Nations, Japanese, Chinese, and Caucasians, including work hours and housing. As time went along, the facilities at Namu continued to expand, with changes in ownership. The British Columbia Packers Ltd, the largest fishing and fish processing company in B.C., took over operations in 1928.
By 1970, structures included large two-story bunkhouses, family cottages, and recreation and mess halls, along with the fish processing facilities, an electric power plant, and a large pier, all of which were connected by a maze of boardwalks.
Declining fish stocks and improved refrigeration on fish boats eventually forced BC Packers Inc. to sell the facility in the 1990’s. A developer purchased the site with plans to build a sportfishing resort, a dream which never came to fruition. Many of the original buildings at Namu were torn down or lost to fires; however, the extensive fish processing facility can still be seen, slowly giving way to time. The old pier and a few homes remain as sentinels of the past. The ghostly remains of Namu Harbour still draw the curious, providing boaters with an interesting stopover anchorage along Fitz Hugh Sound.