Village Islands, Uganik Bay

Village Islands, Uganik Bay

by | Jan 2, 2021

Village Islands is a group of 6 large islands and many islets that extend for 1.7 miles (2.7 km) along the western shore of Uganik Bay, about 147 miles (237 km) southwest of Homer and 42 miles (68 km) due west of Kodiak, Alaska. The Village Islands were named in 1897 for the adjacent Alutiiq village of Uganik by Lieutenant Commander J.F. Moser of the U.S. Navy on the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries steamer Albatross. The name Uganik comes from the Alutiiq placename Unganuut, and it was first recorded in 1805 by Russian explorer Uri Lisianski. The village was still inhabited in 1914.

In 1929, a small hand-pack cannery was started by Albert and Josie Sandvik on the site of the abandoned village. This was operated by Josie Sandvik and local labor from Kodiak who packed mostly red salmon until 1948. The cannery was then purchased and expanded by the West Point Packing Company that operated until 1965. The cannery was then sold and renamed the Village Island Canning and Packing Company. It closed in 1969. Today, the Village Islands, and the old cannery site on the adjacent shoreline of Kodiak Island, have a number of private and native in-holdings used for seasonal residences and hunting cabins.

Purse seiners are vessels that catch salmon by encircling them with a long net and then drawing (pursing) the bottom closed to capture the fish. The Alaska “limit seiner” was designed to purse seine salmon in Southeast Alaska. They were named for the 1920s Alaska law that prohibited salmon seiners longer than 58 feet (17.6 m). Many were built, mostly in Puget Sound, and the fleet navigated the 700 miles (1,129 km) of the Inside Passage to Alaska every summer. Most of the boats were owned by cannery companies that maintained shipyards to work on the boats during the offseason. When the canneries expanded across the Gulf of Alaska, these boats went along, and many succumbed to the dangerous uncharted reefs and shoals. Read more here and here. Explore more of Village Islands here:

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