St. Jean’s Cannery & Smokehouse, Nanaimo BC
Sustainable Fish Products from the Pacific Northwest
I was in Nanaimo last week, second time in two weeks. Great place and great people.
My wife Donna and I were in Nanaimo this trip specifically to visit the St Jean’s Cannery. For those who live in BC, St Jean’s Cannery may evoke thoughts of delicious, fresh frozen and canned Pacific Coast fish. Products such as Salmon, Tuna, Halibut and Oysters to name a few.
We had the opportunity to have a personal tour of the St. Jeans Cannery with the President of St. Jean’s, Steve Hughes.
We learned that St. Jeans is much more than just a cannery. It’s the largest and one of the last standing canneries left on the West Coast of Canada.
It was started by Armand St Jean, a professional wrestler known as the “Flash,” some 50 years ago, who smoked oysters in his back yard and then went door to door in the local pubs to sell his product. He almost always sold out an soon realized the longevity of his products was too short, he needed to produce more to make a living and that he needed a better process, so he expanded into an actual commercial building and began canning and freezing.
And St. Jean’s has also become the major processor for the Sport Fishing industry. From all over BC, fishing guides direct their clients to St Jean’s to process, can and freeze their fresh catch and ship it direct to their homes. St Jeans has strategically placed depots throughout the west coast for the convenience of the sport fishing industry.
Armand St Jean passed away in 1990 and one of his four sons, Gerard carried on and successfully grew the business and legacy. In 2012 St Jean’s acquired Raincoast Trading which complimented the companies view on sustainable fishing practices and of producing gourmet product.
Then, in 2015, the majority ownership of St Jean’s was sold to Indigenous Group, comprised of 5 west Coast Nuu-chah-nulth Nations, who are carrying on with the proud legacy of the company.
Nice story, right.
And it gets even nicer.The seafood processed by St. Jeans is all pole caught. Not by nets, dragging the bottom and reaping all the other species as a by-product. This is a sustainable seafood processor. And, apparently, the cans are all marked so that they can actually identify when, where and by whom the fish was caught.
And the product itself is at a gourmet level. Many canned seafood products are cooked twice, then water and/or oil and other fillers may be added into the finished canned product.
At St. Jean’s the canned product is cooked once. It’s not processed by machines, grinding up the final product. Each can is hand packed. We saw it with our own eyes. Each can, and each morsel is inspected for quality, then hand packed and weighed.
The lids are then attached to the can (BPA Free) and it’s then off to be placed into the huge canners to be cooked. Why is this process so important? Number one is the quality control in place due to the personal care and inspection of each individual product, before and while it goes into the can. And then the fish is simply cooked once and in its own juices, no extra water, oil or filler, just pure gourmet fish.
The result. The most flavourful fish available on the market. And you may be surprised to know that these products are even used by some upscale restaurants.
ST Jeans products can be ordered online at www.stjeanscannery.com or in may retail food stores under the Raincoast Brand name (owned by St. Jean’s, same process) and a few seasonal retail kiosks in malls in Victoria and Nanaimo.
St Jean’s continues to explore avenues to expand their business through a unique retail footprint, so you may be able to get some of this gourmet sea food close to your neighbourhood.
St. Jean’s Cannery & Smokehouse
1 (866) 754-3191
242 Southside Dr. Nanaimo BC Canada V9R 6Z5