Registered Trademark – Commercial Art from the B.C. Packers Collection

The City of Richmond Archives acquired a large number of records of British Columbia Packers Ltd. at the time of the closure of its head office in Steveston. Among the records transferred to the Archives were an extensive series of files relating to the application for, registration, and maintenance of trademarks used and administered by the company and its predecessor and related companies. The records include trademark registrations, correspondence, product packaging, and hundreds of different labels that were in use from 1890 to 1999. Shown in this posting are a few of the trademarked labels owned by BC Packers which illustrate some of the themes used in marketing salmon.

Alexander Ewen was a pioneer in the canning industry on the Fraser River. In 1902 he became the president and largest shareholder of a new firm, The British Columbia Packers' Association. Shown here Ewen Brand Sockeye Salmon label from that era.

Alexander Ewen was a pioneer in the canning industry on the Fraser River. In 1902 he became the president and largest shareholder of a new firm, The British Columbia Packers’ Association. Shown here is an Ewen Brand Sockeye Salmon label from that era.

From the earliest years of salmon canning, the graphics used on the labels tended to be colourful and eye-grabbing to attract the consumer. Some of the earliest labels were printed in Victoria by the Colonist.

An 1891 Excelsior Brand salmon label. The cannery using this label was at Ladner's Landing, owned by E.A. Wadhams. The company shipped its product through its agents in San Francisco, D.L. Beck & Sons.

An 1891 Excelsior Brand salmon label. The cannery using this label was at Ladner’s Landing, owned by E.A. Wadhams. The company shipped its product through its agents in San Francisco, D.L. Beck & Sons.

Labels were sometimes printed and applied closer to the final market of the product, the cans being shipped “bright”, ie. without labels.

This label, also from 1891, was printed by the Canada Bank Note Co. in Montreal and included handling instructions in English and in French.

This label, also from 1891, was printed by the Canada Bank Note Co. in Montreal and included handling instructions in English and in French.

Trademarks had to be registered with the appropriate government department, in the case of Flagship Brand, the Department of Agriculture, Trade Mark and Copyright Branch in Ottawa. The registration document included a complete description of the label as shown below.

The trademark registration document for Flagship Brand Salmon, 1893.

The trademark registration document for Flagship Brand Salmon, 1893.

The Flagship Brand label was enticing on a number of levels. The “Flagship of modern pattern” and the Ensign and Union Jack made a patriotic connection to the British Motherland. The beautiful, wild British Columbia scenery showed the beauty of the land where the fish was caught, a wilderness tamed by the modern steam train on the right, all surrounded by a bright, eye-catching orange.

Flagship Brand, 1893.

Flagship Brand, 1893.

The majority of the BC fishery’s output was shipped for sale in Britain and nations of the British Empire, and as such, labels often carried some reference to the Monarchy or the Empire to encourage sale to patriotic shoppers. This could be done symbolically, as in Rex Brand, or directly with the words “British Empire Product” on the label, or in both ways.

Rex Brand Salmon's trademark showed a salmon leaping through a crown.

Rex Brand Salmon’s trademark, ca. 1906, showed a salmon leaping through a crown. The brand was registered in Australia and New Zealand starting in 1905.

Dominion Brand Salmon labels bore the image of the British Lion with

Dominion Brand Salmon labels bore the image of the British Lion with “British Empire Product” written in a banner below. This image was seen on many BC Packers labels.

Emblem

Emblem Brand, first registered in 1903, also bore the British Empire Lion Logo, as well as a Union Jack and the floral emblems of the United Kingdom. Emblem Brand was registered in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India and France.

Products sold in other countries often had distinct labeling. Rex Pearl was a brand registered in Australia.

An Australian label for Rex Pearl Choice Canadian Salmon.

An Australian label for Rex Pearl Choice Canadian Salmon.

Trademarks had to be registered in all the countries where the products were sold. Cascade Brand was a registered trade mark in many countries, including the Netherlands, as shown below.

A Dutch Trademark Registration Certificate for Cascade Brand Salmon, 1947

A Dutch Trademark Registration Certificate for Cascade Brand Salmon, 1927

Labels were often thematic, trying to reach the consumer by appealing to their aesthetics. Many gave colourful representations of the magnificent scenery of British Columbia, sure to catch the discerning housewife’s eye as she did her shopping.

Sunset Brand Chum Salmon, with beautiful scenery.

Sunset Brand Chum Salmon, Trademark first registered in 1907, showing beautiful British Columbia scenery.

Canyon Brand

Canyon Brand Canadian Red Salmon, from the 1930s.

Arbutus Brand

Arbutus Brand White Spring salmon. Arbutus was first registered in 1906.

Occasionally, Canadian stereotypes were used to sell salmon. Nansen Brand in particular used scenes of ice and snow to represent the wild country that the fish came from. The brand was registered in Australia, New Zealand and Canada starting around 1918.

Nansen Brand with a polar bear on an ice floe.

Nansen Brand with a polar bear on an ice floe.

Nansen Brand with dog sled and trapper

Nansen Brand with snowy scenery and a dog sled and trapper on skis.

Some labels attempted to evoke feelings of hearth and home and good times with friends. Examples include Dinner Bell, Household and Table Talk brands.

Dinner Bell Brand

Dinner Bell Brand Fancy Pink Canadian Salmon. Dinner Bell was registered in New Zealand from 1938 to 1951.

Household Brand Salmon

Household Brand Fancy Canadian Red Salmon, registered in Canada from 1919 to 1969.

Table Talk Brand

Table Talk Brand Choice Red Cutlets.

Others used sports and other popular modern activities to promote the sales of their products.

Derby brand for the horse racing fan

Derby brand for the horse racing fan, first registered in 1906.

Lacrosse brand

Lacrosse brand.

Aviator Brand

Aviator Brand.

Of all the labels used to market salmon, the one with the longest history must be Clover Leaf. One of the best known brands, it was originally registered by a New York company in 1890, being transferred to the British Columbia Packers Association around 1908. The Brand was used on many varieties of canned goods such as vegetables and soups as well as the seafood products that it is best known for. The brand is still in use today, passed on from BC Packers, and can be seen in just about any supermarket.

The Clover Leaf Brand is perhaps one of the best known and longest used trademarks from BC Packers.

The Clover Leaf Brand is perhaps one of the best known and longest used trademarks from BC Packers.

So, while BC Packers has gone and most of the trademarks controlled by it have vanished, one at least remains to remind us of the company’s long history of quality seafood production and its long connection to Richmond.

Japanese Canadians on Sea Island

Cannery workers and their families at Vancouver Cannery, Sea Island, on the occasion of the visit by the Japanese Consul, 1912

Cannery workers and their families at Vancouver Cannery, Sea Island, on the occasion of the visit by the Japanese Consul and his wife, 1912. City of Richmond Archives Photograph RCF 185

Many people are surprised to learn of the significant presence of Japanese Canadians on Sea Island prior to World War II.

Vancouver and Acme (top) Canneries on Sea Island, ca. 1932.  City of Richmond Archives Don Gordon collection

Acme Cannery (top) and Vancouver Cannery (bottom) on Sea Island, ca. 1932. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 1985 166 10

 

Beginning in the early years of the last century, a number of Japanese moved to Richmond to work as fishermen and cannery workers for Vancouver Cannery and Acme Cannery, both located on the southwest corner of Sea Island.

 

List of families in cannery-owned housing, 1936. City of Richmond Archives MR 6, File 603-3

List of families in cannery-owned housing, 1936. City of Richmond Archives MR 6, File 603-3

 

 

The majority of the workers and their families lived in company-owned housing in close proximity to the canneries themselves.

The houses were built on both sides of the dyke running through the cannery properties.

A school, the Sea Island Japanese School, was established at Vancouver Cannery for the sons and daughters of workers of both canneries.

Sea Island Japanese School, Div. 2, 1929.  City of Richmond Archives Photograph 1985 39 65

Sea Island Japanese School, Div. 2, 1929. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 1985 39 65

Sea Island Hurricanes, ca. 1938. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 2004 2 1

Sea Island Hurricanes, ca. 1938. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 2004 2 1

 

A sense of identity and a spirit of cooperation and self-sufficiency developed. Sports teams like the Sea Island Hurricanes (aka North Arm Hurricanes) played against lacrosse teams from Steveston and other communities, while groups like the Sea Island Young People’s Society organized a variety of social activities.

Sea Island Young People's Society on New Year's Day, 1939. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 2013 8 1

Sea Island Young People’s Society on New Year’s Day, 1939. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 2013 8 1

World War II, however, marked the end of the community on Sea Island, with the evacuation of Japanese Canadians in 1942 to camps in the interior of BC or to farms in Alberta.

The canneries were closed and the cannery-owned housing was destroyed.

The burning of cannery-owned houses at Acme Cannery. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 2000 15 2

The burning of Japanese-Canadian houses at Acme Cannery. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 2000 15 2

When Japanese Canadians were allowed to return to the BC coast in 1949, a number of former Sea Island residents made their way back to Richmond and settled in the Steveston area, where they resumed work in the fishing industry.

Cover of Program for the 1983 Reunion. City of Richmond Archives Accession 2014 4

Program for the 1983 Reunion. City of Richmond Archives Accession 2014 4

 

In 1983, a reunion was held for former Japanese-Canadian residents of Sea Island, as well as for those who had lived and worked at nearby Terra Nova and Celtic Canneries. The success of the celebration demonstrated how the spirit of community developed in the pre-war years had never been lost.

From the Archives Kitchen – Clover Leaf Salmon Bread Pie

Recipe Book Centre Spread

Various products sold under the Clover Leaf brand, ca. 1955. City of Richmond Archives RL258

British Columbia Packers Limited was at one time the largest and most diverse fishing company in Canada. For many years, the company operated out of headquarters in Steveston, a major centre for the British Columbia fishing industry for much of the last century.

CloverLeafTradeMarkRenewal1915

Renewal of Clover Leaf trade mark, 1915. City of Richmond Archives, BC Packers fonds, Series 5 , Sub-series 1, File 17

Of the many brand names and trademarks owned by BC Packers, “Clover Leaf” was one of its most well established.

The trademark was first registered in 1890 by a New York City company before being transferred to the British Columbia Packers Association, the forerunner to British Columbia Packers Limited.

The brand was registered to be used for a wide-range of canned products, including fruits, vegetables, soups and fish. The Clover Leaf brand over time, however, became synonymous with quality seafood canned in Steveston and at other BC Packers canneries up and down the BC coast.

 

Clover Leaf Sockeye Salmon, by appointment to the Governor General and the Lady Tweedsmuir, 1939

Clover Leaf Salmon, By Appointment to their Excellencies the Governor General and the Lady Tweedsmuir, 1939. City of Richmond Archives, BC Packers fonds, Series 5, Sub-series 1, File 17

Clover Leaf Display, 1954. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 2001 34 9-93

Clover Leaf Display, 1954. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 2001 34 9-93

BC Packers marketed its “Clover Leaf” salmon locally, throughout the British Empire, and around the world.  In the 1950s, its marketing campaigns often included displays at various exhibitions and shopping outlets, radio advertisements with catchy jingles, and the publication of pamphlets containing recipes for easy-to-make meals.

"Sea Food Recipes", ca. 1955. City of Richmond Archives RL258

“Sea Food Recipes”, ca. 1955. City of Richmond Archives RL258

One pamphlet produced by BC Packers around 1955, “Sea Food Recipes”, was recently consulted at the Archives in the course of historical research on food preparation. In the interest of accurate research, we thought we should try one of the recipes, the “Salmon Bread Pie,” a kind of poor man’s Salmon Wellington.

Recipe for Salmon Bread Pie in "Sea Food Recipes", City of Richmond Archives RL 258

Recipe for Salmon Bread Pie in “Sea Food Recipes”, City of Richmond Archives RL 258

The surprisingly tasty result of our research , thanks to professional chef and Friends of the Richmond Archives’ Board Director Precilla Huang. (Bill Purver photograph)