Brown’s Bay Packing – Community and Innovation
Blending their ingenuity with advanced processing techniques helps them ensure the salmon they process is fresh, sustainable, ecologically sound, and of incredibly high quality and value.
Celebrating British Columbia’s seafood industry
By Samantha Bacchus McLeod
Brown’s Bay Packing Company Ltd. (BBP for the sake of this article) has always been one of my favourite aquaculture business sites to visit. Maybe it is because of the owners of BBP, and their passion for being equally proud of the place and the fish. There is David Stover, co-owner BBP, who is born and bred in Campbell River and loves every tree-leaf and grain of sand on his paradise. And then there is Don Millerd, the other co-owner of BBP Company, with his incomparable family history in the fish processing industry.
For everyone at BBP, “fish isn’t just how we make a living—it’s part of our DNA,” seems to be their motto. BBP’s love for the community and the oceans has spanned generations and touched 3 centuries to date.
1890, young Francis Millerd, grandfather to Don Millerd, newly arrived on the shores of BC – his Ireland far behind him – raised the funds for his first boat. Within 20 years, he owned more than 65 canneries up and down the BC coast, most beginning with nothing but hand-built bunkhouses and groups of determined, hard-working people. As sail and steam gave way to engines, the fishing industry changed and so did the processing.
1924, Millerd purchased the Somerville Canning Company and pioneered the revolutionary floating salmon cannery. It was a concept that had the potential to completely transform the industry and create efficiencies like never before. Don’s grandfather operated the floating cannery for a few years before the federal government shut it down in response to hard lobbying from other canneries threatened by Millerd’s ingenuity.
The film, Through the Gate: The Great Northern Cannery Story, does a fantastic job of showcasing the life’s work of Francis Millerd, visionary and innovator, and how he successfully created an inclusive community far ahead of its time. People from a range of cultures, including First Nations, all lived, worked, and raised their families in a place that is now called West Vancouver. In this place the citizens cohabitated and collaborated all while making a living from the pristine ocean they resided beside. That same lifeblood of a thriving, loyal workforce is still essential to BBP’s success today.
1989, Don Millerd continued his grandfather’s legacy with Brown’s Bay Packing on Vancouver Island. Those enduring themes of innovating with new technology, embracing evolution, and building and nurturing a team of hard-working people are woven throughout BBP’s company. They will always take immense pride in carrying forward the tradition of innovation, connecting people, and forging sustainable new pathways into the fish future of the wild and farmed industries.
Brown’s Bay Packaging’s success is driven by the dedicated people who live, work, and play in their coastal communities. And the company takes pride in not only being employers but in being volunteers, donors, sponsors, and coaches who get involved in important local activities.
The 33 year old company sits on the water’s edges of one of the prettiest bays in the Campbell river area, just at the edge of where great quality fish starts. Fish from the crystal-clear Pacific Northwest waters, followed by good husbandry practices, and careful handling throughout the value chain, makes BBP’s the trusted stewards of their customers’ harvest.
This past summer, the processing of wild salmon for food and ceremonial purposes for 11 Vancouver island First Nations was a first in their 33 years of business. BBP helped nine different Vancouver Island First Nations with offloading, processing, and distributing over 60,000 sockeye for their Food, Social and Ceremonial Fisheries (FSC).
“We experienced again how important that the sockeye is to First Nations. It was like the world stopped last week and the only thing that mattered was ensuring the fish arrived. We were able to experience something that is critical to our Island First Nation neighbors and friends. We experienced first-hand the cultural importance of the sockeye to First Nations.” – Brown Bay Packaging Company.
Blending their ingenuity with advanced processing techniques helps them ensure the salmon they processed – both wild and farmed – is super fresh, sustainable, ecologically sound, and of incredibly high quality and value. Brown’s Bay Packaging Company provides custom seafood processing in a way that honours all their relationships.
Image: David Stover, Brown’s Bay Packing Company landing.