Namu

About 60 miles southwest of Bella Coola on the coast of British Columbia lie the ruins of the very small fishing community of Namu. In the 1950s, BC Packers operated a fish cannery there, but as fishing methods changed, the cannery was closed. Namu was once a popular stopping point along the coast for fishing vessels, sailboats, and small yachts travelling the coastline anywhere from California to northern BC and Alaska.

The site of Namu is much older than we might think at first glance. Long before the cannery, store and fuel depot of the 1950s, fishermen, hunters, and gatherers took up temporary residence there. Tools made of antlers, bone, and rock have been found near the site, dating back over 8000 years. Evidence in a shell midden of a hunter/gatherer cemetery dates to about 3400 BCE.

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When the cannery closed, the buildings gradually fell apart, victims of the howling winter winds, lashing rain, moisture, decay, and vandalism. For several years caretakers lived there year-round.

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They helped slow down the deterioration of the place, but finally, they too have given up and moved away.

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A few flowers strategically planted take away some of the ugliness.

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Much of the machinery in the cannery and in the buildings that supplied water and generator power is seized and rusted.

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Nothing remains of any buildings from the days before recorded history, and sometime in the future, all evidence of the old fish canning community will also be gone. It is well on its way. Unfortunately some of the evidence left behind will not decay so easily.

But just look at the price of fuel back in the days when the plant was still operating. And that is the price per gallon, not  per liter!

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So only the wildlife remains, taking advantage of the kindness of the caretakers who provided housing for them.

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40 thoughts on “Namu

  1. Anneli- I love this kind of place. Reminds me so of Ketchikan. But you have really captured the essence of Namu in these photos. I can smell the warf and cannery remains. So much moisture and moss. Makes me wistful. -Renee

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        • I met a traveller from an antique land
          Who said: `Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
          Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
          Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
          And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
          Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
          Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
          The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
          And on the pedestal these words appear —
          “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
          Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
          Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
          Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
          The lone and level sands stretch far away.’
          Percy Bysshe Shelley

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  2. Good old times … I started to dream about the time we lived in the homestead in the Inlet. I could feel like Namu is full of busy people and now it’s just a ghost-town. Thanks for the great blog!

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  3. Mother Nature really knows best..love the photos Anneli. The critters must be having a wonderful respite after years of dodging humans.

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    • I think the bears will get braver. So will the cougars and wolves. They’ll wander through and keep on moving. At least the swallows will be able to build their nest and be relatively safe from the crows and ravens. It’ll be much quieter in Namu this year without the caretaker family. They’ve moved to a place farther up the coast.

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  4. I love old places like this… so much history and speculation can be a real mind bender in such a place… if the walls could only talk… but it looks like the type of place that could act as a good basis for a novel from the author in you…

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    • It’s funny how we pray for warmer days when winter lingers into a long, long spring, and then when the heatwave hits, we’re all wishing for rain and relief from the hot dry weather. It’s definitely misty and cooler in Namu.

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  5. Those pictures are so poignant. There are many places in B.C. like that, maybe because of the moisture and the wooden structures? Nature is so quick to remind us that we are temporary invaders 🙂 The archaeology is fascinating! Have you got any more information on that?

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