December 7, 2015 Categories: Alaska's Historic Canneries
by Anjuli Grantham
This summer, I ventured on the M/V Tustumena from Kodiak to Dutch Harbor, prepared with Dramamine and ample reading material for the three day sail. Not once did I pop a seasickness pill, and only a few pages were read in my book, as we voyaged through waters I know so intimately through historic accounts but had never seen with my own eyes.
Old P.E. Harris/ Peter Pan cannery at False Pass.
We sailed between the Semidi Islands, and I thought of the fox farmers who operated there in the 1880s and 1890s. We navigated towards the Shumagin Islands, and I recalled the cod fishermen who heaved those monstrous fish aboard their dories and then brought them to shore, split them, and salted them.
We arrived at most of the ports of call in the middle of the night and I only had enough time to peak out the door to see the lights of the processing plants, many running around the clock as the salmon season neared its close. But, we arrived in False Pass in the middle of the day, and I had just enough time to dash to the old P.E.
Old cannery buildings at False Pass.
Harris/ Peter Pan cannery that sits on the opposite side of the village as the ferry dock. I hitched a ride in the pelting rain to the red structures that remain on site after a fire in the 1980s destroyed the main cannery building. The cabins were tiny- the salmon berries that surrounded them were huge.
There, I caught up with the watchman, Wilfred Carlos. In this segment
produced for the Alaska Historic Canneries Initiative, Wilfred shared a day in the life of a cannery watchman, and False Pass resident William Shelikoff recalls the history of the old cannery.
Watchman Wilfred Carlos at False Pass.
For excellent information on the history of the P.E. Harris/ Peter Pan cannery at False Pass, please visit this site