The pioneers of British Columbia's modern shore-based whale fishery were Captain Sprott Balcom and Captain William Grant who formed the original Victoria Whaling Company in 1905. They established whaling stations on Vancouver Island and in the Queen Charlottes at Sechart (1905), Cachalot — also called Kyuquot (1907), Rose Harbour (1909), and Naden Harbour (1911). The Victoria Whaling Company built a processing station at Sechart and used steam-powered chaser boats and large harpoon cannons to hunt all types of large whales.
In 1915 Balcom's company went into receivership and William Schupp acquired the company's assets. Schupp was the owner of the Seattle-based American Pacific Whaling Company that operated whaling stations at Akutan and Bay City (Gray's Harbour, Washington). From 1915-1918 he reorganized the Canadian operation as a subsidiary of the American Pacific Whaling Co., renaming it the Consolidated Whaling Corporation Ltd. Operations of the Consolidated Whaling Co. remained headquartered at Point Ellice, Victoria, while the legal offices of the Consolidated Whaling Co. were in Toronto.
The Consolidated Whaling Co. wharf outside of Victoria's Point Ellice bridge was home to their Norwegian-built whaling vessels Black, Blue, White, Brown, and Green. The Gray (ex Petriana) was a company tender that traveled between Victoria's main wharf and the whaling stations with supplies; returning with oil, whalebone and other by-products from the whaling industry. At the end of the whaling season the Gray would travel south to San Francisco with a mixed cargo of whale oil and fertilizer for sale. Other vessels later owned by the company included the Orion, St. Lawrence and W. Grant.
The internment of Japanese-Canadians in 1942 deprived Consolidated Whaling Co. of its most skilled station hands. Whaling continued until 1943 when the boats were docked for the last time. By 1945 the boats were rusty from inactivity and interested parties tried to revive the whaling fishery, but response was indifferent. In 1947 Schupp sold the company's remaining assets and the boats were sold for scrap in a public auction. The only vessel purchased was the Green, however she remained inactive and eventually sank in Victoria's harbour. William Schupp passed away in 1948.
After World War II, a consortium led by B.C. Packers continued British Columbia's whaling fishery. During the 1960s production shifted from oil and fertilizer manufacturing to the processing of edible whale meat for export. By 1967 the declining market for these products and a lack of whales in the area ended the whale fishery and the last west coast whaling stations closed.
The collection consists of records relating to the daily operational activities of the Victoria Whaling Company and its successor, Consolidated Whaling Corporation Ltd. Records include correspondence sent and received by the whaling company with suppliers, other whaling companies, staff, insurance companies, and large organizations including Canadian North Pacific Fisheries and the Department of Fisheries. The collection also includes a series of reports on the weekly catch statistics and the processing of whale products, station reports, whale meal analysis for quality purposes, a whale fishery license, newspaper clippings on the whaling industry, and templates for packing labels used to ship whale oil and other by-products from the whale fishery. The records have been arranged into two series.
Records arranged by the archivist and all original file titles for the correspondence series were maintained.
See the VMM Photo Library “Whaling Photos” for images of the whaling industry from various sources.
The BC Archives has records from the Consolidated Whaling Company (1907-1943) in their holdings. A copy of their finding aid for these records is included with this finding aid.