Sharon Renneberg, interviewed by Josh Labove, 02 May 2015

Sharon Renneberg, interviewed by Josh Labove, 02 May 2015

Abstract
Sharon begins the interview describing what she remembers of Steveston and how it has changed for the better over time. She then discusses her family’s involvement in the fishing industry and the various places in Vancouver they traveled to during that time.
00:00:00.000
Labove Joshua (LJ)
So, Sharon Renneberg, here at the Gulf of Georgia Cannery, you were just saying that you didn’t grow up in Steveston but you know a little bit about the area and there was one sense in particular that you remembered very distinctly.
Sharon Renneberg (SR)
It’s very much a nasal sense. In the summertime the winds would blow from Steveston in the herring reduction plants and it would blow all the way across Richmond, all the way across all the barns of the Fraser River. We were in Point Grey and it was really something to stay outside. You had a lot of stamina if you could stay outside on days like that. It was pretty grim.
LJ
How has Steveston changed since then? That may be an obvious question but ...
SR
Well, it was so industrial and such a workplace before. It wasn’t a destination at all. It was just industrial. And, now it’s just phenomenally multi-dimensional with the tourism and film crews and residential. It’s night and day.
LJ
Did your family have roots in the fishing industry?
SR
Yes. My dad worked for BC Packers for decades, started out in Northern BC at the fishing plant of Namu. He was a marine machinist. So he worked on engine repair. They were in Namu for about 1935 to 1949 and my mom was from Vancouver so they always wanted to come back here. So, finally, by 1949, he got the ability to come down and work for BC Packers at the Celtic Shipyards which was just on the north side of the river opposite of the Vancouver Airport. So he worked there from, about, 1949 to the late, not the late '70s, about ’77,
SR
’72. Yeah, and retired there. So he would be sent, the odd time, mainly in the summer, to come and work that particular day in Steveston. They’d send him mostly to the Phoenix net loft so I’m not sure what machinery he was working on because it was mostly boat engines. So whether it was net loft equipment or that’s where they stored the engines that needed repair, I’m not sure. It was quite a change of pace for him to have to get in the car and drive all the way to Steveston.
LJ
It’s still not a convenient place to get to in some regards, eh?
SR
Especially if you don’t have a parking spot.
LJ
Right, that’s true. 1949 is an auspicious time to come back to Steveston. Did he talk much about his work or ...
SR
Well, he didn’t talk specifically about jobs. He did take me down to the Celtic Shipyards when I was a little kid and, to me, it was like going to Disneyland with these huge barn-like buildings and machinery like we see here on the floor for the canning line and the lays for doing repairs. It was quite exotic and the smell of the creosote is what I remember more than anything else. That would overpower the Steveston smell. It was great. Background voices become more distinct and audible.
LJ
Yeah. So, um, when you look at how Steveston has changed, is it all for the better? Is it for the worst?
SR
Well, I’d say overall it’s for the better. I hate to see the employment opportunities so diminished but the quality of life is just light-years ahead of what it was and it’s not nearly as segregated as it was. So, yeah, it’s a top class destination now. Yup.
LJ
Yeah. Thank you so much for having a little chat with me.
SR
Sure, I’m glad you guys are interested.
00:04:28.000

Metadata

Title

Sharon Renneberg, interviewed by Josh Labove, 02 May 2015

Abstract

Sharon begins the interview describing what she remembers of Steveston and how it has changed for the better over time. She then discusses her family’s involvement in the fishing industry and the various places in Vancouver they traveled to during that time.

Credits

Interviewer: Josh Labove
Interviewee: Sharon Renneberg
XML Encoder: Stewart Arneil
Publication Information: See Terms of Use for publication and licensing information.
Setting: Gulf of Georgia Cannery, BC
Keywords: Steveston ; Point Grey ; Smells; Fishing Industry; Change; BC Packers ; 1930s – 1970s

Terminology

Readers of these historical materials will encounter derogatory references to Japanese Canadians and euphemisms used to obscure the intent and impacts of the internment and dispossession. While these are important realities of the history, the Landscapes of Injustice Research Collective urges users to carefully consider their own terminological choices in writing and speaking about this topic today as we confront past injustice. See our statement on terminology, and related sources here.