CANNERY COVE is the site of the Winslow Berry Growers Association’s strawberry cannery
pier (1923 - 1941). It is located at 240 Weaver Road south of Wyatt Way, or on
foot by walking to the west end of Winslow Way and following the trail along
the water to Shepard Way and the park entrance - just four blocks west from downtown
Pioneered by farmers primarily of Japanese ancestry, the Island’s strawberry
industry engaged a broad and diverse population. Berries were shipped from here
as early as 1909 by Sakakichi Sumiyoshi and strawberry farmers who followed his
lead. The cannery operated in cooperation with the R. D. Bodle Company who, in
1937, was the largest berry packer in the country. Strawberries were packed with
sugar in 55-gallon wooden barrels made in the cannery by Al and Jim Cooper. Five
hundred such barrels were shipped daily in the peak of the season by Capt. Neils
Christensen and his son, Capt. J. Holger Christensen by barge with their motor
vessels LA BLANCA and HANNAH C. In 1940, 200 cannery workers processed 2,000,000
lbs of berries that were shipped to Seattle and across the U. S. The uprooting
of Americans of Japanese ancestry and their forced evacuation from the west coast
brought an end to cannery berry packing.
Capt. Alvin & Mary Oliver, from
Bristol, ME, had a landing, store, boat yard and farm here (1890- 1912) that
employed the Sumiyoshi family. Later Capt. Benjamin T. Tilton and his wife Harriette
from Martha’s Vineyard, MA, purchased Oliver’s properties. A retired
Arctic whaler, Capt. Tilton was a member of the prestigious Explorer’s
Club of NYC, nominated for membership by famed Arctic explorer, Vilhjalmur Stefansson.
Tilton and many others helped the berry industry grow through a period of discriminatory
State Alien Land Laws and the Great Depression.
After WW II and
for 22 years, concrete plants operated here by Ed & Angela Weaver (1948-1960), Pat & Roy Egaas (1961-1962)
and Joe Park Sr. & Jr. (1963-1970). Parks manufactured prestressed concrete
deck panels for Port of Seattle’s Terminal 18 at Harbor Island, Edgewater
Inn and elsewhere. Inside the cannery, they also built Port of Kingston’s
first public marina.
Cannery Cove’s history reaches across our region,
state, nation, Canada and Japan. It played a significant role in area settlement;
development; and in maritime, agricultural, food processing and industrial history
- a rich cultural fabric of many peoples and individuals significant to our history.
The cannery was destroyed by fire in 1997. The concrete remains of the warehouse
and piers are as indelible on the cove landscape as the history of the strawberry
industry and cove is on the soul of Bainbridge Island. Story Courtesy of the
Bainbridge Island Historical Society & the Friends of Cannery Cove