Barrel of shiner eggs

When she and I visited Ucluelet for the first time since 1942, my Bachan told me so many stories. One I would like to share is about her job. She was only about 14 when the evacuation order came. She had been working at a cannery for “shiners” as she calls them, beheading and gutting them for piece-meal pay. Every so often, she’d find eggs inside a fish. She’d carefully remove the eggs from the guts, save them and put them aside to bring home to the family. They kept a large wooden barrel at home, which, thanks to her careful diligence, was packed full of these shiner eggs. A delicacy in rural BC no doubt. Well, eventually the evacuation order came and like everyone else, they had to leave with only a few suitcases of essentials between them. The eggs got left behind. All that careful saving, gone.

Today, I am a lawyer. I work for the federal government. The same government that made a promise to her that what happened to our family would not happen again. I keep her and my great grandparents’ pictures in my office to remind me of that. It has continued relevance.

Scroll to top