M930.50.1.93 | Commercial label of Caller Mackerel, Shanks & Smith, Charlottetown

Commercial label of Caller Mackerel, Shanks & Smith, Charlottetown
John Henry Walker (1831-1899)
1850-1885, 19th century
Ink on paper on supporting paper - Wood engraving
10.8 x 12.4 cm
Gift of Mr. David Ross McCord
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Miscellaneous (671) , Print (10661)
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Keys to History

Despite the persistence of traditional behaviour, patterns of consumption among the working classes were transformed by urban growth and industrialization. By the late 19th century, grocery stores and small shops were popping up in working-class neighbourhoods. A wide range of cheap mass-produced goods thus made their way into poorer homes. The introduction of tin cans made it possible to preserve perishables and transport them over long distances. Originally intended as cheap food for soldiers and sailors, tinned fish soon became a staple item in working class homes.

  • What

    This colourful label was designed for a tin of mackerel. The label has two parts: the informative one we see here and the one in the next picture, which is essentially decorative.

  • Where

    Fish canning began in the 1820s in France, mainly in Brittany, as well as in the United States, in New England. The first cannery in Canada opened in 1839.

  • When

    The technique of preserving food by canning in baths of boiling water was developed in the early 19th century. Glass jars were soon replaced by tin cans, but the industry really took off after 1860.

  • Who

    Shanks & Smith of Charlottetown, PEI, commissioned Montreal engraver John Henry Walker to design this label.