Tin Can Country by Karen Hofstad
“Tin Can Country, Southeast Alaska’s Historic Salmon Canneries” is the work of Petersburg resident Karen Hofstad. It’s a coffee table size book with Hofstad’s colorful and historic collection of salmon can labels throughout.
“Tin Can Country” tells the story of salmon canneries around Southeast from Excursion Inlet, to Kake, Petersburg, Wrangell, Klawock and Ketchikan. It also tells of the workers in those canneries and the fish traps that supplied them before statehood.
It springs from the collection of salmon cans and labels that Petersburg resident Karen Hofstad first started in 1960. Ever since she’s been gathering more and researching the brands and the history behind them.
“I had all this stuff in my house that I’ve been accumulating, collecting,” Hofstad explained. “Remember, younger people won’t know this but this was all before googling and computers and cell phones and stuff. So now you can click, click and get this, but I had never done any of that. So I’m proud of that fact too, I did it searching. I was a detective for a long time.”
Hofstad was also researching the history of fishing in Southeast and she found an ally in that effort in the late historian Pat Roppel of Wrangell. Roppel was compiling her own research on the history of the industry but didn’t finish her work before she died in 2015. Her family donated that research to the Alaska State Library’s historical collections. That’s also where Hofstad ended up donating her can label collection. Roppel research is found throughout the book as is the writing of some other well-known names in the region.
For the past three years Hofstad has worked with Anjuli Grantham of Juneau who edited and also contributed to the book. Grantham, originally from Kodiak, now works for the Alaska State Museum and also has worked as director of the Alaska Historical Society’s historic canneries initiative.