I’m no stranger to the Northwest Coast, but until recently I had not been able to squeeze in a visit to the North Pacific Cannery. It’s long been on my list as a site to see in the region, and yet I never made it happen. Until NOW. Before we get started, I should clear up one thing – the North Pacific Cannery is not in Prince Rupert. It’s located in Port Edward outside of Prince Rupert, and if you travel even further down the scary, bumpy road, you will find Cassiar Cannery (where you can stay overnight).
For site hours of operation check out their website. The site is only open during the summer and closes for the winter.
I’m going to jump right into our visit by telling you that you need to take the tour. I usually avoid the tour, but the tour was excellent.
Take the North Pacific Cannery Tour
Every day, the North Pacific Cannery offers three public tours of the site. These tours provide you access to several buildings and additional details on the site. While there are an array of signs at the North Pacific Cannery, the tour was a rewarding wealth of stories and information about this site, as well as other sites along the Northwest Coast of BC
With a tired toddler in tow, we didn’t finish the tour, but we did get a chance to listen in on a couple of great excerpts regarding the processing of the Salmon and the living quarters for the various occupants of the site.
More importantly, we got to go into the Net Loft building. I would consider this the only reason to jump on a tour if you have rambunctious children like mine. The building was barged down from Port Essington and is full of fishing nets and mechanical stuff. It was a lookers delight. I loved seeing the nets, and my husband loved exploring all the mechanical stuff. Note, at this point stairs were required to get into the loft. My husband pushed the toddler around on the first floor while I got to listen in on tour #spoiled.
Unfortunately, as predicted, our children began to meltdown, and we found ourselves skipping out of the tour early while we hunkered down to deal with it.
But back to the tour, our guide Wiliam projected well, and we could hear his narration even while tucked into a corner with a furious toddler, and a hungry baby. The site narration was on point for being captivating and interesting, and William was skilled in answering our questions!
Have you ever been to a site with a less-than-awesome tour guide? I have, but it wasn’t this one.
Exploring the Cannery with a Toddler
The North Pacific Cannery is a great historical site to visit and explore with a toddler. Exploring this site offers boardwalks and space for running, exploring and playing. There is just something about running on the boardwalk that is satisfying for a toddler or anyone! However, all this space to run around in meant we seldom had the time to linger and read the information signs!
Along the warf is a series of old machine parts which captivated his attention. Some of them still had levers or gears that moved. Making them move was a helpful relief of curiosity. The cannery insides are less than intriguing for toddler explorers, but with the right distraction technique, parents will enjoy the various stations for processing salmon.
We quickly burned over an hour playing along with the docks and looking at the buildings, and mischevious things scattered amongst the site. Only once did we have a near panic attack when the toddler decided to duck under the railing and get way too close to the river.
Other Things to Know
The site is relatively stroller friendly. However, if you take the tour, you won’t be able to get up into the net loft.
There isn’t a changing station in the men’s washroom. I’m not sure if there’s one in the woman’s because I put husband on diaper duty that afternoon. I usually change bums in the van before we get onto the site, and then right before we leave back at the van. This means I don’t need to bring anything with me while exploring (except snacks, you can never have too many snacks).
Vehicles are easily accessible, so don’t worry about forgetting something. Twice I quickly crossed the tracks to grab more water, snacks, or toys for our adventure.
Dress accordingly as it is a little chilly along the river!
Don’t forget about the train tracks. The CN rail line passes right by the cannery. Watch for trains when crossing from the parking lot into the cannery, and take care with your tiny explorers. Maybe a train will pass and catch the interest of tiny people! We watched a train with much enthusiasm from the cannery docks.
I Can’t wait to return to the North Pacific Cannery because this sight on the river is truly a delight.
I can’t believe it took me so long to visit this historic site. We didn’t stay for lunch as the menu didn’t intrigue us, but you can have a meal in the mess hall! Instead, we returned to Prince Rupert for fish and chips, and to get some gasoline for the trip to Terrace. Maybe next time we will stay at the Cassiar Cannery for the full Northwest Coast Cannery experience.