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Fishermen's Union Trading Company Salt Fish Plant Registered Heritage Structure

Port Union, Newfoundland and Labrador, A0C, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2007/04/27

View across waters off Port Union of Salt Fish Plant, Port Union, NL, June 2006.; HFNL / Deborah O'Rielly 2006
Salt Fish Plant, Port Union, NL
View of the seaward facing side of Salt Fish Plant, Port Union, NL, June 2006.; HFNL/Deborah O'Rielly 2006
Salt Fish Plant, Port Union, NL
View of one of three elevator shafts in Salt Fish Plant, Port Union, NL, June 2006.; HFNL / Deborah O'Rielly 2006
Salt Fish Plant, Port Union, NL

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/07/23

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Fishermen’s Union Trading Company Salt Fish Plant is a commercial, vernacular styled industrial building with B.C. Fir timber supports and cedar-grained asbestos shingles sheathing the exterior. The mid-twentieth century rectangular building is located at the edge of Port Union harbour, facing the water. It is clustered amongst a large grouping of related buildings that, together, comprise the Port Union National Historic District and Port Union Registered Heritage District. The designation is confined to the footprint of the salt fish building.

Heritage Value

The Fishermen’s Union Trading Company Salt Fish Plant has been designated because it has aesthetic, cultural, scientific, and environmental values.

The Salt Fish Plant holds aesthetic values for its distinctive overall appearance characterized by three-storey construction and three large elevator towers. The rectangular building measures 1719 square meters, an impressive size for its location and function. The fish plant retains its original window fenestrations and dimensions, as well as the oversized door openings on the main floor. It is sheathed in cedar-grained asbestos shingles as they were believed to be fire-proof; the building replaced an original one that was consumed in a devastating fire that nearly destroyed the town March 1, 1945. The square, flat-roofed freight elevator shafts are substantial in size; one of the shafts opened to the flat roof where fish was air dried, while the interior of the building held mechanical dryers for the same purpose. The Salt Fish Plant is built using British Columbia fir and is well-preserved and strong on the interior. The open beams and posts support the expansive interior because there are few partitions or walls. The combination of materials and design techniques reflect the standards of the time following the 1945 fire.

The Salt Fish Plant has cultural value because of its relevance to the town of Port Union and its associations with early industry in this region. The Salt Fish Plant was developed by William F. Coaker, founder of the town of Port Union and the Fishermen’s Protective Union. The major focus of economic activity at Port Union revolved around the salt fish industry and this building was a hub of activity and a major employer for the union-built town.

The Salt Fish Plant is valued for its scientific advances. Several components related to extensive early use of modern technology such as electric powered elevators, fish driers and presses remain in the building. The use of this technology put the fish plant ahead of many others in terms of production and output, allowing the Fishermen’s Trading Company a competitive edge in the salt fish market.

The Salt Fish Plant is environmentally valued for its landmark status, revealed by its distinctive size and shape and water side location. Built into the side of a large, rocky outcrop it is one of the most recognizable manmade landmarks on this part of the coast and embodies the essence of the town.

Source: Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, Meeting 59, April 27, 2007

Character-Defining Elements

All those elements that reflect the mid-twentieth century, industrial vernacular type of construction, including:
-rectangular shape as well as dimensions, orientation and location;
-flat roof;
-three storey construction;
-use of BC fir support posts and beams;
-three flat roofed freight elevator towers that extend above the roof;
-original windows, their fenestrations, dimensions, sizes and materials;
-original door openings and sizes; and
-proximity to surrounding, related buildings and structures.



Newfoundland and Labrador

Recognition Authority

Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador

Recognition Statute

Historic Resources Act

Recognition Type

Registered Heritage Structure

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Extraction and Production

Function - Category and Type


Commerce / Commercial Services


Food Supply
Fisheries Site

Architect / Designer

Fishermen's Protective Union



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, 1 Springdale Street, PO Box 5171, St. John's, NL, A1C 5V5

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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