Basin Head Fisheries Museum and Cannery
Basin Head Fisheries Museum and Cannery[i]
Basin Head is one of the best known white beaches on PEI. It is known also for its unique hollow basin shaped, in which its name is received. Prior to the creation of the wharf at Basin Head, many local fishermen made a living from off-shore fishing. The harbour at Basin Head, was man-made in 1938 in order to replace the older, natural entrance that was along the coast of South Lake.
The Cannery at Basin Head is well-known as the only surviving example of a 1940s cannery in the Eastern Kings area. It was built soon after the completion of the harbour and wharf. The building that once housed an operating fish cannery, is now home to a unique display of early fishing vessels, equipment and cannery machinery. The Cannery was completed and opened in 1941, which soon made the area into an economic hub of activity. The Eastern Fisheries Company operated the cannery and quickly became known for canning “chicken haddie,” which is canned haddock, cod or hake.
The building that housed the cannery is the only original building that still stands at Basin Head. At the time of operation there were many building sharing the same space. The Cannery also housed bunk rooms for its male and female workers; they bunked in separate dorms. Fishermen made this a home port until the late 1940s. At this time draggers came to life in the harbour and caused the ground fishing industry to come to a halt at Basin Head.
The Basin Head Fisheries Museum was opened in May 1973 with support from the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation. In the years that followed much expansion and development of the cannery and museum have followed. A management group was formed in 1998 to oversee the day to day operations of the site. Basin Head is also designated a Marine Protected Area under Canada’s Ocean Act as it is home to many unique and diverse species, such as a rare form of Irish Moss.
A rather nasty storm hit in 2004, which produced much damage to the Cannery and wharf at Basin Head. Repairs on the area were completed in recent years and it is still a large tourist destination for the area. Improvements continue to be made to the Museum and Cannery site and beach, in order to remind visitors and residents of the areas rich fishing past.