Fishing and canneries

Japanese Americans found work at salmon canneries along the Columbia River in Oregon and Washington, and their labor was welcomed in Alaskan towns such as Ketchikan and Petersburg as early as the 1890s. They traveled by ship to the cannery towns, where they slowly developed small communities whose population swelled with the yearly arrival of workers. Issei (Japanese immigrant) entrepreneurs started the oyster industry from scratch in Puget Sound. Japanese American oyster farms became thriving businesses before World War II.

Industry and employment (398)
Fishing and canneries (201)

Related articles from the Densho Encyclopedia :
Takahashi v. Fish and Game Commission

201 items
Men on ship's deck (ddr-densho-15-33)
img Men on ship's deck (ddr-densho-15-33)
These Japanese Americans are on their way to work in the Alaskan canneries. The man lying down on the far left is Mike Hirahara. The three men closest to the camera from top to bottom are Min Kanazawa, (first name unknown) Sano, and George Nojiri.
Two men washing canned salmon (ddr-densho-15-90)
img Two men washing canned salmon (ddr-densho-15-90)
Fred Kosaka (left) and (first name unknown) Takehara wash cans of salmon that have just been cooked. Washing was necessary to remove debris produced during the cooking process.
Unloading oysters from a bateau (ddr-densho-15-105)
img Unloading oysters from a bateau (ddr-densho-15-105)
These two farmers are unloading oysters from a bateau for processing. Left to right: Chuck (last name unknown) and Jack Tanabe.
Scow (ddr-densho-15-119)
img Scow (ddr-densho-15-119)
The scow was used to gather oysters. A winch-operated dredge was dragged across the oyster beds at high tide, and the harvested oysters were then emptied onto the scow or a bateau. In order to deliver the oysters to the processing plant, both the scow and the bateau had to be towed.
Oyster farmer (ddr-densho-15-115)
img Oyster farmer (ddr-densho-15-115)
Mr. Mukai steering oysters into a box, where they were steamed open for canning.
Steamship identification ticket (ddr-densho-15-19)
doc Steamship identification ticket (ddr-densho-15-19)
This ticket belonged to Norio Mitsuoka, who was on his way to Alaska to work in the canneries.
Salmon cannery (ddr-densho-15-88)
img Salmon cannery (ddr-densho-15-88)
Mike Petrakov unloads salmon onto a conveyor belt for processing. Many Japanese Americans also worked for this same cannery.
Unloading oysters from a bateau (ddr-densho-15-108)
img Unloading oysters from a bateau (ddr-densho-15-108)
These workers are unloading oysters from a bateau at the processing area. The oysters were shoveled into a hopper and onto a conveyor belt (left side of image) that led into the processing area, where they were opened.
Two men with oyster shells (ddr-densho-15-120)
img Two men with oyster shells (ddr-densho-15-120)
Hiroshi (left) and Masaru Odoi punched holes into oysters shells. The shells were strung on wire and hung on racks in the water to catch oyster spawn. Afterwards, farmers spread the shells over a bed. This was an experimental way of hatching oysters in the 1930s.
Workers traveling to canneries (ddr-densho-15-21)
img Workers traveling to canneries (ddr-densho-15-21)
These cannery workers are aboard the steamship "Aleutian" on its way to Alaska. Three individuals are identified: Hiroshi Yamada (middle front), Hiro Nishimura (right front), and Kenny Nakatani (back right).
Oyster farmer taking a bath (ddr-densho-15-95)
img Oyster farmer taking a bath (ddr-densho-15-95)
Norio Mitsuoka taking a bath. The water supply was limited, and workers had to depend on rainwater, which was collected in vats (behind the barrel), for bathwater.
Marking an oyster bed (ddr-densho-15-111)
img Marking an oyster bed (ddr-densho-15-111)
Emil Nakao marking an oyster bed. The bed was marked with long poles at low tide, allowing farmers to gather the oysters with tongs at high tide.
Caulking an oyster bateau (ddr-densho-15-110)
img Caulking an oyster bateau (ddr-densho-15-110)
Norio Mitsuoka caulking an oyster bateau to make it waterproof.
Men leaving for Alaska (ddr-densho-15-38)
img Men leaving for Alaska (ddr-densho-15-38)
These Japanese Americans are en route to Alaska to work in the canneries. Several can be identified: "Turk" Fujiya and Jim Yoshida stand fifth and sixth from the left; Ben Uyeno and George Yano stand third and second from the right. Ben Uyeno later became a well-known doctor in Seattle's Japanese American community. He was interviewed …
Cannery workers (ddr-densho-15-41)
img Cannery workers (ddr-densho-15-41)
These workers are at Shear Water Bay near Kodiak Island. They appear to be playing cards. Left to right: unidentified, Tom Matsudaira (cannery foreman), "Cannon" Watanabe, (first name unknown) Yamasaki, and Paul Sakai.
Two men holding their halibut catch (ddr-densho-15-25)
img Two men holding their halibut catch (ddr-densho-15-25)
George Munato (left) and Takeo Dozen hold their catch of halibut from the Shear Water Bay area of Kodiak Island. The item on top of the halibut is a skate.
Motorized scow (ddr-densho-15-117)
img Motorized scow (ddr-densho-15-117)
This scow belonged to G. T. Mogan, one of the organizers of the Willa Point Oyster Company. The scow was equipped with a motorized dredge that farmers used to harvest oysters at high tide. The empty dredge can be seen on the left side of the boat toward the back. Two bateaux are connected to the …
Oyster farmer (ddr-densho-15-100)
img Oyster farmer (ddr-densho-15-100)
Norio Mitsuoka is farming oysters. Two long tongs allowed farmers to harvest oysters before the tide was completely out. Each tong had a "rake" at the end, and the farmers would scoop the oysters together between the rakes and haul them up. When full, the load weighed approximately 20 to 30 pounds. Oyster harvesters were paid …
Oyster processing machine (?) (ddr-densho-15-31)
img Oyster processing machine (?) (ddr-densho-15-31)
This photo was taken at the Yamashita oyster farm. The machine might have been used to process oyster shells.
New Washington Oyster Company (ddr-densho-15-92)
img New Washington Oyster Company (ddr-densho-15-92)
Oyster companies, such as New Washington, hired many Japanese American workers during the harvesting season.
Oyster-farm station house (ddr-densho-15-104)
img Oyster-farm station house (ddr-densho-15-104)
The station house is where oyster farmers lived during the harvesting season. The house was erected on pilings. In the foreground is a bateau, or small barge, that was used to haul oysters.
Departure from the canneries (ddr-densho-15-42)
img Departure from the canneries (ddr-densho-15-42)
These workers are in Shear Water Bay near Kodiak Island. They are about to leave the canneries.
Willa Point Oyster Company (ddr-densho-15-113)
img Willa Point Oyster Company (ddr-densho-15-113)
The Willa Point Oyster Company canned local oysters for shipping.