Good Hope Cannery History
Rivers Inlet was the site of the first cannery built on the Central Coast of British Columbia. Legend is in the spring of 1882, the steamer Barbara Boscowitz was to transport owners and crew to Shotbolt Bay to start construction of a canning facility. It was dark and snowing when they arrived and the captain hurriedly unloaded the crew, equipment and supplies before steaming away. It wasn’t until the next morning it was realized the boat had not landed in Shotbolt Bay at all, but at the head end of Rivers Inlet on the tide flats.
Time was of the essence and fishing season was coming. The facility, called Rivers Inlet Cannery to this day, was built on the mistaken site. Fifteen more canneries were built over the years and in 1894, the Anglo-British Columbia Packing Company constructed the Good Hope Canner. A year later the H.O. Bell-Irving and Company assumed “Sole Managing and Selling Agent” responsibilities and the Bell-Irving family owned it for decades. It was converted into a fishing lodge resort in 1965. This remarkable heritage site did not go unnoticed over the years and was even featured in a National Geographic book called “Our Amazing Earth.”
Good Hope is one of a small handful of canneries remaining on Rivers Inlet. In fact, it’s one of only two standing on the entire coast not already converted to a museum. It is being lovingly restored, beam by beam and piling by piling while preserving as much of the original machinery and surroundings as possible. A significant part of the cannery's preservation can be credited to the (relatively) new metal roofs. While preserving some of the past, Good Hope is making a new generation of anglers and adventures comfortable in a way the original cannery workers could scarcely have imagined.
As you relax by the fire with a drink and a story about the one that got away, admire the artifacts of a lost time. Keep an eye out for the ghost of a Japanese fisherman who apparently once roamed the Good Hope Cannery, setting off the occasional air horn. Or maybe that’s just a fish story....