Cannery A to Z: W is for Wheelhouse

While the term “in my wheelhouse” meaning an area of expertise, is taken from baseball (in reference to the perfect strike zone to hit a home run), on a fishing boat it is the name given to the sheltered area for the person at the wheel.

Have you ever wondered what life is like on a modern fishing boat? Gone are the days of fishing from small fishing boats called skiffs, with only a tent-like structure for shelter and not even a bathroom. These days most fishing boats, even small ones, have a wheelhouse.

If you have visited the Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site, you may recall that there is a model wheelhouse in our “Fishing the West Coast” gallery area. This wheelhouse also includes luxuries such as a galley (kitchen), bunk (bed), and head (washroom). A lot has changed in the commercial fishing industry in the past 100 years. When fishing was happening on small skiffs it was possible to be out for days at a time; now with more modern fishing boats it can be weeks or even months. Spending time at sea still means you have to cram into a smaller space than you would on would also meant that you could be far away from fresh fruits and vegetables for a long time. But anyone who is passionate about fishing will tell you it’s worth it! If you were take a trip on a commercial fishing boat, what would you have in your wheelhouse?