Motor Vessel BCP 45 National Historic Site of Canada

Campbell River, British Columbia
General view of Motor Vessel BCP 45, showing its inherent characteristics that typify a wooden fish seiner of the west coast, 1999. (© Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, Arnold E. Roos, 1999.)
General view
(© Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, Arnold E. Roos, 1999.)
Address : 621 Island Highway, Campbell River, British Columbia

Recognition Statute: Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
Designation Date: 2005-08-03
  • 1927 to 1927 (Construction)
  • 1927 to 1995 (Significant)

Event, Person, Organization:
  • Harry Assu  (Person)
  • Mel Assu  (Person)
  • Captain Allen Chickite  (Person)
  • Chief Johnny Scow  (Person)
  • BC Packers  (Architect)
Other Name(s):
  • Motor Vessel BCP 45  (Designation Name)
Research Report Number: 2000-009, 2004-027, 2004-045


Approved Inscription:  621 Island Highway, Campbell River, British Columbia

Built in 1927 for BC Packers, the BCP 45 is one of the oldest and best- preserved wooden seiners remaining in Canada. This vessel witnessed key technological and labour-force developments in the commercial West Coast fishery in the 20th century. For 14 years it operated with a cannery license under government regulations that restricted the ownership of fishing vessels by Aboriginal peoples and Japanese Canadians. It later became one of the first seiners to be owned and operated by an Aboriginal person. Its depiction on the five-dollar bill from 1972 to 1986 made the BCP 45 a symbol of the West Coast fishing industry. Approved 2007

Description of Historic Place

Motor Vessel BCP 45 National Historic Site of Canada, permanently housed at the Campbell River Maritime Heritage Centre, is a 14.3 metre single-screw fishing vessel of wood construction. The vessel has a low raised foredeck and a deckhouse located forward of midship. This configuration was typical of a wooden fish seiner from the west coast of Canada. The official recognition refers to the vessel itself.

Heritage Value

Motor Vessel BCP 45 was designated a national historic site of Canada in 2004 because: it is among the oldest and best preserved surviving examples of a wooden seiner, a class of vessel intimately associated with the commercial West Coast fishery during the 20th century that has all but disappeared from use; in terms of its ownership, the vessel witnessed key aspects in the development of the West Coast fishery; it operated for its first 14 years under a cannery licence that reflected the restrictions on Aboriginal peoples and Japanese-Canadians within the industry; and it was subsequently one of the first seiners to be owned and operated by an Aboriginal person; and, it is an eminent representative of its class, accorded an added iconic value through its depiction on the Canadian five-dollar bill from 1972 to 1986.

Motor Vessel BCP 45 was one of several fishing vessels built to a standard design for its original owner, BC Packers Ltd., the dominant canning company on the British Columbia coast during the second half of the 20th century. It was built in 1927 by Burrard Shipyard in Coal Harbour, Vancouver, considered the heart of wooden shipbuilding along the coast during the period. In addition to its direct association with important changes in the social structure of the west coast fishing industry, Motor Vessel BCP 45’s lengthy operational life reflected many of the technological changes that had significant impacts on the fishing community. It was operated successively as a table seiner, troller, Puretic block seiner, packer, and finally, as a drum seiner. Through its design, adaptation to successive technologies, and direct associations with the dynamics of the fishing industry and the important role of Aboriginal Peoples in it, Motor Vessel BCP 45 has become a fitting symbol and a familiar national icon of the fishing industry in Canada.

Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, June, 2004.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements relating to the heritage value of Motor Vessel BCP 45 include: its museum location; the original massing, scale and proportions, surface material, colour, hull configuration and interior and exterior elements including; the wooden construction; the single hull with its length of 14.3 metres (47 feet); the original design of the vessel and its inherent characteristics that typify a wooden fish seiner of the west coast, embodied in its hull shape, profile, deck and house configuration, mast and rigging, fish hold, seine apparatus and stern configuration; the interior configuration of the vessel, including wheelhouse, cabins to port, lavatory to starboard, galley and dinette aft, sleeping quarters in raised foredeck, engine room beneath deckhouse; original exterior and interior construction methods which embody wood shipbuilding technology, materials and craftsmanship typical of the region and fishing vessels of this type and era; surviving original exterior and interior wood surfaces, substructure and built-in furnishings and fixtures dating from the vessel’s years of commercial fishing; the use of a four-cylinder 80 hp Vivian engine; the historical colour scheme of the vessel, namely white exterior with green, aqua and black highlights and brown copper bottom.