Alaska Packers Association museum opens

Published on Wed, Jun 29, 2011 by Tara Nelson

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A volunteer at the Alaska Packers Association hangs a photo as part of a series of upgrades.

The Alaska Packers Association (APA) Museum at Semiahmoo Park is now open for the season from 1 to 5 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Labor Day weekend.

The museum, located at 3261 Semiahmoo Parkway, features a restored Bristol Bay sailboat and exhibits illustrating the history of Blaine’s fish cannery days.

From 1893 to 1980, APA was an international center for salmon processing but the area’s fishing industry dates back even further, after the first permanent settlers arrived at Semiahmoo in the 1870s.

“The APA museum exhibits our long-standing ties to the marine world and Alaskan fishing grounds,” museum manager Sunny Brown said. “Commercial fishing ran rampant from Point Roberts to Blaine during the APA’s heyday as salmon migrated up and down the Fraser River in British Columbia.”

Numerous APA cannery artifacts fill the museum building, which along with two other buildings, was moved from the cannery to Semiahmoo Park in 1981. A restored Bristol Bay sailboat and black and white photographs of a running Plover Ferry also help tell the story of this forgotten era.

The museum was first opened in 1984 but was closed 12 years ago when Whatcom County Parks and Recreation deemed the building dilapidated based on a leaking roof and poor heating system. Brown said staff members have been busy reframing and enlarging photos and adding more artifacts donated by Rick Thompson from his father’s collection.

The walk from the Semiahmoo Plover dock to the museum is about 1.2 miles. “It’s a nice jaunt if someone wants to take the Plover and walk along the beach,” Brown said.

For more information about the Plover ferry or the APA museum, call 360/371-3558 or visit