What Am I? A Tierce and Salt

 resized tierce  resized salt

We’ve given you an extra couple of weeks to think this one over… here are the answers to our last mystery photos — they were:¬† salt and a tierce for curing salmon!

A tierce is a wooden barrel of a standard size, once used for shipping products like salted salmon.

Canning wasn’t the only method of preservation that took place here at the Gulf of Georgia Cannery; periodically, they also salted salmon. Salting was the earliest method used by Europeans to preserve salmon on the west coast. The Hudson’s Bay Company started exporting salted salmon in barrels from Fort Langley in the 1830’s! To cure the salmon, it was split, eviscerated, and washed, then covered in salt and placed flesh side up in layers in a barrel until it was full. The salmon was then tightly pressed so it would not move around during transportation, and a brine solution was added before it was finally shipped. Even after canning became popular, it was not uncommon for canning and salting to occur in the same facility. This way, when the cannery received more salmon than they were able to can, they could instead salt it to prevent it from spoiling and going to waste.

salt
Two men mild-curing in the 1940’s. City of Vancouver Archives, CVA 586-546

A tierce was originally used as a measurement for wine in England; they can generally hold around 42 gallons of product, and are closely related to the modern oil barrel. Today the tierces in our collection are kept in storage, but you can come in any day and learn not only about how salmon was canned, but also about some of the other methods of fish preservation that have been used throughout time.

The next mystery item is not for the faint of heart!  Good luck and keep the guesses coming.

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