Skip to Main Content

History of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism in Northern BC

This guide highlights archival resources related to the history of outdoor recreation and tourism across Northern and Central BC.

Ask an Archivist

Profile Photo
Northern BC Archives & Special Collections

Hours of Service:
Monday to Friday: 8:30 AM-4:30 PM
Closed Weekends & Statutory Holidays

Location: UNBC Prince George
Geoffrey R. Weller Library
4th Floor (Room 5-423)

Tourism in BC's Inside Passage

"As the main lifeline of the British Columbia coast from the late nineteenth century until the late 1950s, Vancouver’s Union Steamship Company (USC) fleet carried not only freight and workers to and from the lumber camps, salmon canneries, and larger industrial sites of the north Pacific coast, but also tourists attracted largely by the views from the deck as described by the company’s promotional brochures...(page 203) The USC made its first appeal to tourists in 1894, when it printed the account of “W.G.F.,” a British travel writer who claimed to have found his fellow passengers on the northern run to be “not only civil, but in some cases interesting.” The USC was known for its linen tablecloths, silver cutlery, and appetizing meals served by stewards in starched uniforms, but it did not yet have ships dedicated exclusively to the tourist trade; thus, its fleet was—during the summer, at least—a somewhat unusual hybrid of cruise ship and commercial vessel. Needless to say, neither W.G.F. nor any other promotional writer made reference to the pigs, chickens, and other livestock transported to coastal settlements, or to the loggers who were generally drunk and rowdy as they left the skid-row hotels of Vancouver. Indigenous and Chinese deck passengers would also be ignored, but W.G.F. did describe the First Nations settlements as a colourful and exotic part of the coastal landscape. (page 206)" -- excerpts from "Views from the Deck: Union Steamship Cruises on Canada’s Pacific Coast, 1889–1958" by J.I. Little in MOVING NATURES: Mobility and the Environment in Canadian History Edited by Ben Bradley, Jay Young, and Colin M. Coates

Archival Resources

Archival records of early and mid-century cruise and steamship travel include:

  • Travelogues
  • Diaries
  • Oral histories
  • Correspondence & postcards
  • Photographs
  • Film
  • Pamphlets & timetables
  • Ephemera (tickets, etc)

Relevant searches of Northern BC Archives holdings:

Fred Jeffery Photograph Collection (1921-1933)

2009.10.2.044 - North Pacific Cannery, Port Edward, BCFred Jeffery Photograph Collection - 2009.10

Fred Jeffery was born in Bruce Mines, in the Algoma District of Ontario in 1870 to Richard and Mary Ann Jeffery. When he finished school he worked as a stationary engineer mining for hard-rock copper for the Bruce Mines until 1891, when he moved out West to British Columbia. After his migration, Mr. Jeffery worked as a steam engineer during the winters at both the original Hotel Vancouver and occasionally at the Rogers building; while each summer he traveled north to the Nass Valley where he worked as a steam engineer at a Prince Rupert salmon cannery. Upon his retirement he built a boat named the Algoma, and sailed around the Gulf Islands looking for the perfect spot to build a home – a spot he eventually found in Maple Bay (Duncan). Mr. Jeffery died in Maple Bay, B.C on 19 April 1952.

2009.10.2.047 - Balmoral Cannery, Port Essington, BCThe Fred Jeffery Collection consists of three photograph albums comprising a total of 303 b&w photographs all dating from ca.1924-1933. The subject matter of these images consist primarily of the fishing industry, river & landscapes, salmon cannery images (housing, people, workers, machinery, boats) on the Nass River and North Pacific Coast. Notable are the photographs depicting indigenous (Nisga'a) people and places and Chinese and Japanese cannery workers. Identified canneries featured in these photographs include: Mill Bay Cannery, Namu Cannery, Klemtu Cannery, Shushartie Bay Cannery, Balmoral Cannery, North Pacific Cannery, Nass Harbour Cannery, Port Essington Cannery, Kitwanga Cannery, Port Nelson Cannery, Alert Bay Cannery, Dominion Cannery and ABC Co. Cannery. Photographs also include images of the Canadian Pacific Railway in both Vancouver and Sicamous, BC., as well as, images of the Legislative Assembly buildings in Victoria, the 1924 Special Service Squadron ships in Vancouver, early construction of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and town overviews of Yokohama, Japan (pre WWII).


Historical Publications