V is for Valentine: Cupid in the Cannery!
Work in the canneries was hard and the hours were long, but the workers were known for working and playing hard. Many of the workers who came to the canneries for the summers were young and single. At the end of the day, everyone was covered in slime and smelled like fish, which created a natural bond among them.
Dances were often held in Steveston on Saturday nights after a long day of work in the canneries. These were seen as a good way for the young men to pursue the cannery girls, and some long-time couples actually met while working in the canneries!
A former cannery worker, who went on to marry his then-girlfriend, recalled the elaborate process of getting ready for the evening. The women would watch the clock and as soon as the fish bins started to empty, they would finish up their work and punch out so that they could run home to shower and apply perfume before the dance.
Cannery towns provided few amusements for dates, so couples had to be creative. One couple, who met at the Good Hope Cannery in Rivers Inlet, took an excursion in a cannery rowboat for their first date. How romantic!
V is for Valentine is an exert from the Cannery’s rotating temporary exhibit The Cannery A-Z.
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