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What Am I? A Peugh

Salmon bin

The answer to last week’s mystery “What Am I” : It’s a peugh!

What is a peugh you ask? As pictured, a peugh is a long wooden tool with a sharp, pointed metal end. Ours at the Gulf of Georgia Cannery has been dulled and rounded so that no one peughs themselves!

The name “peugh” is a bit of a mystery; no one knows why it’s called a peugh, though some have speculated  it’s due to the smell of  fish—peeyew!  Luckily, the way it was used in a cannery is known to us.

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GOGCS Archives, CFC-3-3-3
Fishermen peugh salmon onto the fish elevator in front of the Gulf of Georgia Cannery Ice House, ca. October 1945.

Back in the day, workers would use a peugh to move salmon off of the boats and onto the receiving floor.  A worker would use the peugh to pierce a salmon around the gills, which is a good leverage point, and would then fling the fish up into the building, one at a time. The workers had to move really fast (they could fling roughly one fish a second!) but there was so much salmon they still had to work almost 16 hours a day, six days a week just to keep up! Unfortunately, or thankfully depending on your perspective, there are no longer any real salmon in the cannery, but you can come on by and try your hand at peughing one of our museum-grade salmon yourself! You can even try timing yourself to see if you can keep pace with the workers from a by-gone era.

Next week’s “What Am I?” mystery item:

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