The Columbia River Packers Association and the Bumble Bee Brand
By Irene Martin & Roger Tetlow
Chinook Observer Publication, $24.95, 224 pages
Fishing for salmon and the Pacific Northwest have been linked for over a hundred years. This book traces the history of the Columbia River Packers Association (CRPA), eventually known as the Bumble Bee Brand. It was started in 1899 by Andrew B. Hammond, an industrialist from Missouri, who moved to Astoria and began building an empire of fishing, canning facilities, lumber and railroads. By the 1920’s CRPA was a complex mix of gill-netters, trappers, beach seiners, fish wheel operators and dip net fishermen. The book is full of pictures from the era and many other period pieces such as canning labels, letters, advertisements, drawings and sketches. During the course of the CRPA’s history, great progress was made on the process of canning salmon and other seafood. The author notes that “in the early days of the industry more than half of the product canned was lost.” As demand for the product grew, so did the company. Starting in 1870 the first influx of Chinese laborers helped supply the demand for labor. After World War II the organization began processing tuna and women became a vital part of the work force. Bumble finally closed its offices in Astoria in 1980 and move its headquarters to San Diego. This book is fascinating if you enjoy the topic.
By Brian Taylor