Twitchell-Champlin Co.

  • Browns Wharf Canneries
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Twitchell-Champlin Co. Fruit and Vegetable Canneries

240-252 Commercial Street

Seven canneries were located on the Portland Fish Pier and Brown’s Wharf, including R.J. Peacock Canning Company, in business from 1932-1978, and Trident Packing Company from 1946-1970. Katherine McLaughlin (site G04) remembered working with about 250 women at a time who were of Italian, Irish, Polish and French Canadian backgrounds. Others interviewed about their experience remembered that “the fish smelled, but the money didn’t.” As labor inspector Eve Shorey noted about canning in her 1907 report on women’s work in Maine, “The nature of this business makes the work not exactly suited to the wearing of white shirtwaists.”

Canneries in other parts of the city produced non-fish products. The largest canning employer was Burnham & Morrill Co., originally on the waterfront at Franklin Street, now at the end of Baxter Boulevard on, symbolically, Beanpot Street, and can be seen from Eastern Promenade. (B&M is still famous for cooking and canning baked beans.) When the company left Franklin Street in 1913, B&M employed 75 women and 65 men, the specific jobs generally divided by gender.

Historic photos courtesy of Collections of Maine Historical Society, used by permission of Maine Historical Society. It is exempt from the Creative Commons license of this project.