HIST 493 – Student Research and Public History at North Pacific Cannery

Professor: Dr. Benjamin Bryce

Term: Fall 2019

Time: Wednesday-Sunday, August 28-September 1, 9:00-17:00

Location: North Pacific Cannery National Historic Site, Port Edward

Course website:


Telephone: (250) 960-5759

Cell phone: 604-839-3084

Office: McCaffray Hall 3092

Office Hours: 11:30-12:30 Friday, September 6th and September 20th

Instagram: #493NPC

Course Description: This course aims to take the study of history to one of Northern BC’s foremost national historic sites. The North Pacific Cannery was the longest-operating cannery in British Columbia (canning fish from 1889 until the late 1970s). Aboriginal peoples from the north coast and Skeena River basin, immigrants particularly from China, Japan, the United States, and other people born in Canada worked in various aspects of the commercial fishery of British Columbia, which quickly became part of the industrial and global food economy. In addition to the social and cultural impact on the Tsimshian peoples and the emergence of Canadian towns in the region, these human activities had a massive environmental impact. Salmon stocks were greatly depleted, as canned North Pacific salmon found their way into homes across North America and Europe. The setting of the course offers students the opportunity to learn about how to apply historical knowledge, skills, and methods to a real-world situation, namely a historic site that shapes the views of residents and visitors about the past.

Upon arriving at the site, students will submit an annotated bibliography, which will demonstrate that they have done all the assigned readings before the course begins. Over the course of one week, students will participate in several days of seminars, tours, discussions, interviews, and archival research, all aimed at developing their understanding of fisheries in the North Pacific. After leaving Port Edward, students will prepare two assignments aimed at contributing to the public knowledge of the past, namely the text for a webpage and an applied history project. In the spirit of the grant from the UNBC Office of Research that funds students’ travel, lodging, and food for this course, students should be willing to have their text published online and for the benefit of the North Pacific Cannery.

Important note: There is almost no wifi at the cannery and no cellular reception. Students may be able to connect to wifi in order to send and receive e-mails, but nothing else. There is cellular reception in the town of Port Edward (5 kilometres from the cannery). Students should plan to have little communication with the outside world during the course, and they should bring their own movies because they will not be able to use online streaming services such as YouTube and Netflix. The bunkhouse where we will be staying has three or four bathrooms (all with private showers) and a shared kitchen where students can cook their own meals. Students should bring enough clothing to last them the whole trip. The national historic site might be able to do a load of laundry in an emergency.

Learning Objectives:

1) To teach students about labour, migration, and environmental transformation in British Columbia and the Pacific world.

2) To learn and reflect on both historical narratives and memory presented and fostered at this national historic site.

3) To provide service to the community that students interact with. After carrying out original primary research, students will share their research with the North Pacific Cannery National Historic Site so that it may be used in future exhibits or websites.

Readings: All readings are mandatory. Journal articles and book chapters can be accessed through the UNBC library. The following books are on sale at the UNBC bookstore, and they are on 1-day reserve at the library.


  • Douglas Harris. Landing Native Fisheries: Indian Reserves and Fishing Rights in British Columbia, 1849-1925. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2008.
  • There is an eBook in the UNBC library.
  • David F. Arnold. The Fishermen’s Frontier: People and Salmon in Southeast Alaska. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2008.

Articles and book chapters: You can download a PDF of all of these articles and chapters through the UNBC library.

  • Renisa Mawani. Colonial Proximities Crossracial Encounters and Juridical Truths in British Columbia, 1871-1921. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2009. Chapters 1 and 2, pages 1-76. (1 – Heterogeneity and Interraciality in British Columbia’s Colonial “Contact Zone”; 2 – The Racial Impurities of Global Capitalism: The Politics of Labour, Interraciality, and Lawlessness in the Salmon Canneries). – eBook and at UNBC library.
  • Dianne, Newell ed. The Development of the Pacific Salmon-Canning Industry: A Grown Man’s Game. Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1989. Introduction, pages 3-20. — eBook and at UNBC library.
  • Lissa Wadewitz. “The Scales of Salmon: Diplomacy and Conservation in the Western Canada-U.S. Borderlands.” In Andrew Graybill and Benjamin Johnson, ed. Bridging National Borders in North America (Duke University Press, 2010). 141-164. – eBook at UNBC
  • Joseph E. Taylor. “El Niño and Vanishing Salmon: Culture, Nature, History, and the Politics of Blame.” The Western Historical Quarterly 4 (1998): 437-457.
  • Matthew Evenden. “Remaking Hells Gate: Salmon, Science, and the Fraser River, 1938-1948.” BC Studies 127 (2000): 47-82.
  • Miriam Wright. “Aboriginal Gillnet Fishers, Science, and the State: Salmon Fisheries Management on the Nass and Skeena Rivers, British Columbia, 1951-1961.” Journal of Canadian Studies 1 (2010): 5-35.
  • John Soluri. “Something Fishy: Chile’s Blue Revolution, Commodity Diseases, and the Problem of Sustainability.” Latin American Research Review 46 (2011): 55-81.

Evaluation: This course is based on experience, and it breaks with conventional learning and teaching relationships. To succeed, you need to embrace that difference. Some of the assignments are unlike what you are accustomed to in university-level history courses. If you give the different assignments your best effort and you dedicate as much time to them as you would to the assignments for other upper-level history courses, your grade in this class will be in line with your average history GPA. For any assignment for which you receive a grade 10% lower than your average grade in the history courses you took in 2018-19, you will be able to submit a revised version of that assignment within 14 days of receiving your grade, and your final grade on the assignment will be based 2/3 on the revised version and 1/3 on the original version.

  1. Annotated bibliography, August 28, 15%
  2. Participation in experiential learning activities, 15%
  3. Discussion of readings in seminars and student-led tours, 10%
  4. Experiential learning log, September 9, 15%
  5. Website text, September 24, 20%
  6. Applied history project, October 4, 25%
  7. Instagram bonus, August 28-September 1, 2%


  1. Annotated bibliography. In a regular fourth-year history seminar at UNBC, students are expected to read approximately 100 pages per week (over 12-13 weeks) and to demonstrate a mastery of the readings in class discussions. For this course, students will read approximately 650 pages, and all before the class begins. To ensure that students come to Port Edward prepared to discuss the readings and equipped with the general background knowledge required to carry out archival research and participate in discussions of historical narratives and memory, they are to create an annotated bibliography. Students need to demonstrate in writing that they have done, understood, and reflected on all texts. In the bibliography, students will provide a 150-250 word summary and analysis of each text – all in their own words – and they should identify the argument of each author. They should submit a hard copy to the instructor at 9:00 am on Wednesday, August 28 when the course begins.
  2. Participation. The experience of this course will come from learning by seeing, walking, touching, and researching and from interacting with various groups in Port Edward and Prince Rupert with a stake in the region’s history. Active participation in all aspects of this course is a requirement, and students will learn from one another. Students are expected to attend all sessions outlined on this syllabus (39 hours in total, just like any fourth-year seminar at UNBC). Contributions to the discussion should be respectful to classmates and our hosts in Port Edward/Prince Rupert.
  3. Discussion of readings. We will discuss all readings as a group in seminars and in student-led walking tours during our time at the North Pacific Cannery. Students are expected to demonstrate a mastery of the readings. In our discussions, we will tie the main points of the various readings together, and we will highlight the most important points made by each author. Students should be prepared to talk about any of the readings in any seminar or tour, and it is advised that they take detailed notes while reading so that they can actively participate in the discussions.
  4. Experiential learning log. 1000 words. Students are expected to write a summary and reflection piece on five distinct activities and experiences they had during this course. All activities/experiences should be related to some element of history covered in this course. Each day, 15 minutes of class time will be dedicated to this assignment, and students are encouraged to write and reflect more on each day’s activities in their free time while in Port Edward. They should also discuss how all five examples chosen illustrate a core theme of the course. Students are to submit a typed and polished version of their summaries and reflections as a Word document via Blackboard.
  5. Website text. 800-1000 words. In Port Edward, students will carry out original research based on oral testimonies, the cannery’s archive, and – for some – at the Prince Rupert City and Regional Archives. Students need to write an accessible history based on one topic that they researched during this course. They should provide appropriate citations. The goal of this assignment is to give back to the North Pacific Cannery and to provide the historic site with more content that they can share with visitors. Students will decide on a topic in consultation with the instructor. Students should pick a topic on arrival or after the first research activity. The text can also draw from the assigned secondary sources. At the end of the text, students should include a list of works cited, but no footnoting is required. Students are to submit a typed and polished Word document via Blackboard, one which is ready to be published online by copying and pasting. Images can be embedded in the Word document or submitted as separate files.
  6. Applied history project. This assignment builds on the archival research that students did in Prince Rupert, but they are expected to supplement it with digitized historical documents and secondary sources. A list of possible sources will be distributed via the course website. Students may work alone or in groups of two. The goal of this assignment is to share original research with the broader public by producing digital content. Students will do one of the following four activities or, with approval from Dr. Bryce, students may carry out any other project that that shares original historical research with the community. 1) Make or greatly transform a Wikipedia page; 2) create a podcast with the help of the UNBC CFUR radio station; 3) publish an article on; 4) Make a small exhibit that could be used at the cannery. More information on how to carry out these projects will be provided in class and on the course website. If doing a written assignment, students are to submit a typed and polished Word document via Blackboard. If writing a Wikipedia entry, students should submit (via Blackboard) a PDF of the page before and after they modified it. If writing an article for ActiveHistory, students should provide evidence of submission to the editors (forwarding the submission and e-mail to Dr. Bryce). If a podcast, students should send the instructor the completed podcast as an MP3 (or other audio format). If a collection of posters for an exhibit at the cannery, students should make the posters on a computer, using a large document in Microsoft Powerpoint or other program, and submit the file to Dr. Bryce via Blackboard.
  7. Instagram bonus. Students are encouraged to share photographs of our course as it takes place on Instagram using the hashtag #493NPC. Please seek permission of any people who appear in a photo before sharing it. Any student who shares 8 (or more) photos of 8 different experiences that share with the world some of the learning experiences of this course will receive the bonus.

Logistics and costs: Our class will take place at the North Pacific Cannery National Historic Site in Port Edward (near Prince Rupert). We will convene at 9:00 on Wednesday, August 28 and we will conclude at 17:00 on Sunday, September 1. The course has traditional seminars, but it also includes meetings with community members, touring the cannery, and visiting archives in Port Edward and Prince Rupert. The course also has a significant social element in that approximately fifteen students will be living in close quarters for six days. Students are required to participate in all course activities (9 am to 5 pm). Students stay in a residence at the cannery, which consists of private and shared rooms and access to a kitchen and a cafeteria.

Living expenses: A significant portion of the costs of this course have been generously covered by a grant from the UNBC Office of Research. The cost of lodging will be paid for directly by UNBC. Students will receive a $100 grant from UNBC which will help cover the cost of food. There are kitchens that students can use at the cannery as well as a cafeteria open at lunch time. Students are advised to travel with some food for their first breakfast and to go grocery shopping in Terrace en route to Port Edward on Tuesday, August 27. The cannery is 23 km from Prince Rupert, and it will not be practical to travel to Prince Rupert for prepared meals. Dr. Bryce will also buy apples, pop, and granola bars that students can eat as snacks.

Transportation: After the course is complete, students may claim $100 for transportation costs and $100 for food by submitting a claim to the administrative assistant in the Department of History with original receipts. They will require a “travel authorization” form from Dr. Bryce. Students can travel by bus, train, ferry, or their own vehicles. Students may pool their $100 to share the cost of driving and the driver can claim $100 for each student they transport (in which case only the drivers need travel authorization forms).

Provisional Course Timeline:

Wednesday, August 28

  • Morning (9:00-13:00)
    • Seminar – Discussion of syllabus and assignments
    • Meet with Ann Leach, manager of the North Pacific cannery to discuss content needs for assignments 5 and 6 – 10:00-10:30
    • Cannery – Tour of cannery, meeting with tour guides – 11:00-13:00
  • Afternoon (14:00-17:00)
    • Archive – Introduction to North Pacific Cannery with Heidi Rampfl, archivist – 14:00-15:30
    • Seminar discussion – History according to the scholarly readings and the North Pacific Cannery

Thursday, August 29

  • Morning (9:00-12:00)
    • North Pacific Cannery archives (7 students) or Prince Rupert City Archives (5 students)
  • Afternoon (13:00-17:00)
    • North Pacific Cannery archives (7 students) or Prince Rupert City Archives (5 students) – students going to the Prince Rupert archives should note that the archive closes at 3pm and they should ensure they get to the archive at 9:00 and take a short lunch.

Friday, August 30

  • CBC Radio (7:30-8:00) – Discussion of course on CBC radio Daybreak North – Dr. Bryce and any interested students
  • Morning (9:00-13:00)
    • North Pacific Cannery archives (7 students) or Prince Rupert City Archives (5 students)
  • Afternoon (15:30-17:00)
    • Visit to the Oldfield Creek Fish Hatchery in Prince Rupert

Saturday, August 31

  • Morning (9:00-13:45)
    • Oral history testimonials and lunch with elders
  • Afternoon (14:00-17:00)
    • Seminar – Discussion of oral history testimonials and the hatchery tour

Sunday, September 1

  • Morning (9:00-12:30)
    • Student-led walking tours
  • Afternoon (13:30-17:00)
    • Seminar – Course conclusion

Course website: Detailed descriptions of the assignments will be posted on the course website. The URL is

Technology Etiquette in the Classroom: Laptops may be used in class, but only for note taking. Students are advised to print a copy of their notes on the assigned readings and to participate in class discussions using those notes. Please turn off your cellphones before class begins. It is inappropriate to surf the web or send messages during any class at the University of Northern British Columbia.

Submission of written work and lateness penalty: All assignments should be submitted via Blackboard. The late submission of an assignment will be penalized in an exponential manner. For each day an assignment is late, the penalty will be as follows: 2%, 4%, 8%, 16%, 32%, 64%, 100%. No assignments will be accepted after seven days without a valid medical certificate. Be sure to retain a copy of your paper and keep all your notes and drafts. If you have extenuating circumstances that will prevent you from submitting your assignment on time, discuss your situation with the instructor well in advance of the due date.

Illness and absences: Notify Dr. Bryce as soon as possible if an illness or other concern prevents you from attending a course activity in Port Edward. If an illness or other concern affects your ability to meet assignment deadlines after the classes end in Port Edward, notify me and contact the UNBC Wellness Centre or the Registrar’s Office.

Academic Honesty and Plagiarism: Authors do not cite sources properly merely to avoid accusations of plagiarism but also to establish credibility, bring other work to the reader’s attention, and demonstrate competing viewpoints.

The University of Northern British Columbia takes academic honesty very seriously.  Any suspected cases of plagiarism will be investigated and academic offences could lead to permanent expulsion from UNBC. More information on the University’s procedures on academic offences can be found here:

The code of academic conduct disallows the following:

  • to represent as one’s own any idea or expression of an idea or work of another in any academic examination or term test or in connection with any other form of academic work, i.e. to commit plagiarism;
  • to submit, without the knowledge and approval of the instructor to whom it is submitted, any academic work for which credit has previously been obtained or is being sought in another course or program of study in the university or elsewhere.

Accessibility and Accommodations: Students with diverse learning styles and needs are welcome in this course. If you have a disability or health consideration that may require course format accommodation, please contact me to discuss your needs.  If you require accommodations for a disability or if you have accessibility concerns about the course, the classroom, or course materials, please contact the Access Resource Centre for Students with Disabilities at (

Student Conduct: The University of Northern British Columbia is an academic community whose purpose is to search for knowledge through teaching, research, and the free exchange of ideas. As such, UNBC is committed to developing among its members an enduring sense of community rooted in a working and learning environment which emphasizes mutual respect and tolerance and which is free from discrimination, harassment, disruptive behaviour, and violence. The members of the UNBC community include students, faculty, staff, administrators, governors, senators, and, in certain contexts, visitors. In order for the members of the university community to participate fully and effectively in the university’s purpose, certain standards of conduct must be recognized and respected. The university’s policy and procedures involving disruptive and/or harassing behaviour by students in academic situations is available on this website: