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Haysport was a cannery and community located about 24 miles (38 km) from Prince Rupert on the north side of the Skeena River adjacent to the Grand Trunk Railroad and across from Port Essington, British Columbia. It was named for Charles Hays who was president of the railway at the time. The townsite was formed by the Massey & Freer Company of Vancouver. They bought 260 acres (105 ha) of land in 1909 and established the Haysport townsite in 1910. They also built a hotel, cold storage facility, a store, and a post office. In 1913, electric power was first generated from a hydroelectric plant on the Hocsall River, and the cannery was built in 1919. By the 1930’s, fishery regulations had moved the commercial fishing boundary away from the Skeena River and the cannery was closed in 1939. The post office was closed in 1963.
For thousands of years the Tsimshian, meaning “People of the Skeena”, have lived along the river. The Coastal Tsimshian live near the lower part of the river and the Gitksan live along the upper river. In July 1793, Captain George Vancouver was one of the first Europeans to visit the mouth of the Skeena River. Settlers started arriving in the 1860s and 1870s. In 1876, salmon canneries were built along the Skeena River with some that operated until the mid-1980s. During the salmon boom period there were 18 canneries along the river.
Technological advancements and the industrialization of fish processing led to overfishing and fishing regulations were implemented that ultimately controlled the fate of the canneries along the Skeena River and elsewhere. Until 1924, cannery tugs towed fleets of sailboats every day to the fishing grounds. When gas engined boats were legalized, mobility became easier and salmon could be intercepted farther offshore. Presumably for conservation reasons it became illegal to fish in the Skeena and gradually the canneries fell into disuse. Today all that remains of Haysport are the many pilings that once supported the cannery. There is also a quarter-mile (500 m) boardwalk on shore and remnants of the old town still litter the surrounding forest. Read more here and here. Download the latest version of the CoastView app and explore more of Haysport here: