Humpback Bay, Porcher Island

Humpback Bay, Porcher Island

by | Aug 22, 2022

Humpback Bay is an embayment on the north coast of Porcher Island off Malacca Passage, about 15 miles (24 km) south of Prince Rupert, British Columbia. The bay is the site of a community named Porcher and the now derelict Porcher Island Cannery near the mouth of Back Creek. The salmon cannery was originally built by the Chatham Sound Fishing and Packing Company in 1928 but operated for only four years before closing at the end of the 1932 salmon season. The site was later purchased by the Canadian Fishing Company and used as a summer gillnet station until 1968 when gillnet operations were transferred to North Pacific Cannery. Humpback Bay continued to serve as a net storage facility until the 1980s when the Crown lease was sold.

Porcher Island is near the mouth of the Skeena River and named after Edwin Augustus Porcher who served in the Royal Navy from 1821–1878. While stationed at the Esquimalt Naval Base with the North Pacific Squadron on Vancouver Island, Porcher made four summertime voyages as Commander of HMS Sparrowhawk to the North Coast of British Columbia. The ship navigated through the Inside Passage from Esquimalt to the Hudson’s Bay Company trading post at Fort Simpson and would have passed close by the island in Chatham Sound that now bears the Commander’s name. Porcher Island has always been sparsely populated with the exception of a brief influx of homesteaders in 1906. The island’s relative isolation, combined with wet, cool summers and severe winters, has discouraged many of those who sought to make Porcher Island their permanent home. Nonetheless, three small settlements that were established during the 20th century are still inhabited today. These settlements are at Hunts Inlet, Humpback Bay, and at Oona River.

The Porcher Island Cannery occupied about 20 acres (8 ha) along the rocky shoreline of Humpback Bay. All of the buildings at Porcher were wooden framed and painted in the colors of the Canadian Fishing Company, with white siding and red trim, and connected by a boardwalk. A cluster of residences was at the north end of the site including houses for the manager and bookkeeper. The company store had an attached storage area for the weekly grocery supplies and a small suite at the rear for the storekeeper. Next to the company store was a building for a large diesel-electric generator that provided power to the community. The southernmost cannery structure was a boathouse. An elevated wooden path led to a reservoir and dam on Back Creek that provided Porcher’s drinking water. A short video of the old cannery is here. Read more here and here. Explore more of Humpback Bay here:

About the background graphic

This ‘warming stripe’ graphic is a visual representation of the change in global temperature from 1850 (top) to 2021 (bottom). Each stripe represents the average global temperature for one year. The average temperature from 1971-2000 is set as the boundary between blue and red. The color scale goes from -0.7°C to +0.7°C. The data are from the UK Met Office HadCRUT4.6 dataset. 

Credit: Professor Ed Hawkins (University of Reading). Click here for more information about the #warmingstripes.

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