Alaska Packers Association

First Canneries
Whatcom County’s first cannery was opened in August of 1882 by James Tarte and John Martin in Semiahmoo. In 1891, Daniel Drysdale built a small cannery at the end of Semiahmoo Spit that packed 7,369 cases of sockeye and 1,457 cases of Coho salmon in its first year. However, the ever-increasing number of canners made the 1890s a period of intense competition, and as a result, canneries began merging to better handle increased competition.

Creation of the Association
In February of 1893, 25 of 33 Alaska canneries banded together as the Alaska Packers Association, which bought out the Drysdale Cannery on Semiahmoo Spit and the Wedhams Cannery at Point Roberts. By 1909, the Blaine Journal listed only five canneries in Blaine: Ainsworth and Dunn, the Blaine Packing Company, JW and V Cook Packing Company, West Coast Packing Company, and, of course, the great Alaska Packers Association.

Initiative 77
As in the case of Pacific American Fisheries (PAF) in Fairhaven, the 1934 passing of Initiative 77 banning Puget Sound fish traps was a hard blow to the salmon-canning industry in Blaine. The Alaska Packers Association ended operations in the 1960s. However, the 1934 ban was a tremendous boon to smaller fishing outfits, which had formerly been unable to compete with giants like PAF and the Alaska Packer Associations. Consequently, demand for harbor space at Blaine increased dramatically as fishermen searched for safe moorage close to the rich salmon fishing grounds off of Point Roberts.

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