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The Cannery at Basin Head Fisheries Museum

336 Basin Head Road, Basin Head, Prince Edward Island, C0A, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2005/12/15

Showing sloping roof, dormers, and elevation of the building on wood pilings; Province of PEI, 2004
The Cannery at Basin Head Fisheries Museum
Showing entrance to Basin Head harbour with Cannery on far right; Province of PEI, 2004
The Cannery at Basin Head Fisheries Museum
Showing beach in foreground, and museum building on hill above Cannery; Province of PEI, 1999
The Cannery at Basin Head Fisheries Museum

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/05/28

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Cannery at the Basin Head Fisheries Museum is an assymetrical building with attached sheds and dormers. It is clad with wooden shingles on the exterior walls and on its sloping gabled roof. Located near the sea, in the eastern region of Prince Edward Island, it is the heart of the Basin Head Fisheries Museum. The designation includes the building's exterior and parcel, it does not include the building's interior.

Heritage Value

The Cannery is valued as a well preserved surviving example of a circa 1940s fish cannery in Prince Edward Island. The harbour entrance at Basin Head was man made in 1938, replacing the entrance that had been further along the coast at South Lake. The new harbour soon became the focus of economic activity for the area when the Government completed the Cannery building in 1941. This was operated by the Eastern Fisheries Company and processed "chicken haddie" - a canned haddock, cod, or hake fish.

The Cannery is the only original building on the Basin Head Museum site. It is used to display canning equipment, a salt water aquarium, and generally serves to tell the story of the inshore fishery and its culture which once predominated much of coastal Prince Edward Island.

The Museum opened in 1973 as part of the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation. Expansion of the site has been ongoing in recent decades. In the 1990s, a coastal ecology exhibit opened in the Cannery to explain the biology of the nearby sand dunes.

In 1998, a group was formed to manage the development of the site. In 2000, a small lab was located in the Cannery to assist researchers to develop a biological inventory of the area. The coastline at Basin Head has the status of a Marine Protected Area under Canada's Oceans Act, since it is home to many diverse species, including a rare type of Irish Moss.

The Cannery suffered damage in a winter storm surge in January 2004 and has since undergone repairs. Today, the site offers not only a glimpse into the intriguing history of the importance of the inshore fishery to PEI, but also has beautiful sea vistas, a boardwalk to sandy beaches, and an opportunity to learn about the unique ecosystem of the area.

Source: PEI Heritage Advisory Committee Files

Character-Defining Elements

The following character-defining elements illustrate the heritage value of the Cannery at Basin Head Fisheries Museum:
- the overall massing of the building with its wood frame construction projecting out into the harbour and supported by wooden pilings
- the wood shingle cladding on the exterior walls and roof of the building
- the sloping gabled roof with its pair of projecting dormers on either side of the roof, all having rectangular six over six windows
- the five solid wooden doors opening onto the harbour side of the building
- the fenestration of the windows and doors on the gable ends of the building
- the several sheds backing onto the building from the shore
- the centrally placed wooden ventilator with its gable roof
- the location of the Cannery as part of the Basin Head Fisheries Museum



Prince Edward Island

Recognition Authority

Province of Prince Edward Island

Recognition Statute

Heritage Places Protection Act

Recognition Type

Designated Historic Place

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Extraction and Production

Function - Category and Type


Historic or Interpretive Site


Food Supply
Fisheries Site

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Located in the Culture and Heritage Division, PEI Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7N8 File #: 4320-20/T1

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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