Delta Oyster Plant

South end of 112th Street
Delta, BC

Built: 1941
 

BC Packers Limited established its oyster operation in Boundary Bay, Delta, in 1940/1941, under the management of John Christopherson.

Status: Demolished in 1995

Delta Oyster Plant - circa 1941
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BC Packers is a very large integrated company that has operated in BC for generations. It had established oyster farms in Comox, Denman Island, and Desolation Sound. In 1941 BC Packers moved its oyster shucking plant to Delta at the foot of 112th Street. Boundary Bay and Mud Bay were productive oyster habitat and the Crescent Oyster Company had been operating in the area for many years. The location at the mouth of Oliver's Slough provided deep water at high tide and good road access via 112th Street. The Company leased foreshore lots from the province, including Lot 698 which already had a wharf that had been built in the early 1900s by the Municipality of Delta for access to the farms in East Delta. The wharf, at the end of 112th Street and on Oliver Slough, was rebuilt and became the foundation for the oyster plant opened in 1941. The plant was located at the mouth of Oliver's Slough in Delta. The channel from Oliver's Slough provided some deep water but the location required dredging on a regular basis to provide access for tugs and barges.

For 22 years BC Packers harvested oysters in Boundary Bay from 160 acres that extended from Mud Bay to Beach Grove. Initially the native BC oyster was harvested. However, after the native oyster was depleted, BC Packers seeded the Atlantic variety. Later they switched to the Japanese oyster, a species marked by its jagged white shell and large size. It took four years to grow an oyster to harvestable size.

Barges would be pulled out and anchored over the oyster bed to be harvested. At low tide a gang of rakers would arrive to rake up the oysters and load them aboard the barge. Later, the Japanese oyster was so large that they could not be raked and had to be picked by hand. With the incoming tide the barge would be floated and hauled back to the processing plant.

BC Packers bought out the Crescent Oyster Company in 1957. The Boundary Bay operations were now centered at the Delta plant. Unfortunately a fire swept though the Delta Packing Plant in 1963. The disastrous fire and the prospect of rebuilding came at an inopportune time. 1961 marked the first temporary closure of the fishery due to polluted run-off from the Serpentine and Nicomekl rivers. The licenses for the oyster operation in boundary Bay were pulled by the federal Fisheries Department in 1963 due to concerns about pollution, the result of animal and human sewage entering the Bay. The problem of deterioration of water quality, combined with trouble renewing its leases on the tidal flats, on top of the devastating fire, lead to the closure of the Delta operation in 1963. The plant buildings, acquired from BC Packers by John Christopherson in 1968, eventually deteriorated and were demolished in 1995.