Salmon canning was one of the region's original industries, back when the salmon run up the Skeena River was one of the greatest in North America. The province's oldest working salmon-cannery village, built on the waterfront of Inverness Passage in 1889, was home to hundreds of First Nations, Japanese, Chinese, and European workers and their families. Every summer, fishing fleets dropped off their catches at the cannery, where the salmon was packed and shipped out to world markets. This company-owned community reached its apex from 1910 to 1950, when the workforce numbered 400 and the community grew to about 1,200; the cannery has been closed since 1968.
Now a National Historic Site, the North Pacific Cannery Village Museum complex includes the cannery building, various administration buildings and residences, the company store, a hotel, and a dining hall -- a total of over 25 structures linked by a long boardwalk (the land is so steep here that most of the houses were built on wharves). Workers were segregated by race: the Chinese, Japanese, and Native Canadian workers had their own micro-neighborhoods along the boardwalk, all overseen by the European bosses. Guided tours of the cannery complex, offered on the hour, provide a very interesting glimpse into a forgotten way of life.
The boardinghouse now operates as the historically authentic B&B, the Waterfront Inn, which is rustic but clean and cheerful with small rooms and squeaky floors -- a very unique experience. Doubles cost from C$39 (US$39/£20). The Cannery Café and Forge Broiler Bar are open during museum hours, and the Salmon House Restaurant (tel. 250/628-3273) is open 11am to 7pm, year-round.