NOTHING BESIDES REMAINS.
“Nothing besides remains. Round the decay
The decay of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
-Percy Bysshe Shelley
These last lines from Shelley’s poem Ozymandias come to mind when I view this photograph of the the final fate of Inverness Cannery.
From the Philippson Family Collection
My father passed on in 2005 at the age of 92. He loved reciting poetry and this poem was a great favourite of his. I read it aloud at his memorial service as a measure of respect for him, his life lived and a way of life forever gone. Inverness Cannery, once a vital force in the fishing industry, is now just a distant memory. For countless decades it had sustained the livelihood and lives of so many families along the North Coast and inland along the Yellowhead Highway.
Inverness Cannery had played such a vital role in my father’s life. In the last years of his life it was gone as well as most of his contemporaries, his relatives and friends. As with the cannery now only the memories remain - the lone and level sands stretching far away.
When we attend a Celebration of Life we rejoice in memories of a life well-lived. At the same time we experience a longing, a yearning for the person, the time and the place forever gone.
At my father’s memorial service I learned two things about him that I wish that I had known years earlier. One was that during the late 1930s and early 1940s he was considered a high liner fisherman on the Skeena River. What really amazed me though was to find out that during the depths of The Great Depression he and his younger brother Tony twice rowed a rowing gillnetter from New Westminster to Inverness Cannery on the Skeena River in order to participate in the salmon fishery. From time to time they would have had picked up the occasional tow from fish packers (here the Klatawa). To me it still remains an amazing feat.
For them and all those like them we will not soon see their like again.