Longhouse - Front


Salmon drying is one of the most important processing-for-storage techniques that are used by the Stó:lō on the Fraser River. This process occurs in two forms: wind-drying and air-drying. Air-drying took place in the normally dry areas of the Fraser Valley. A drying rack, a rectangular structure of poles, was covered with a roof, and salmon flanks were hung within the structure. The salmon was cut thin for this type of drying to reduce the chance of poor weather spoiling the batch. The roof was integral to the success of the drying, as it prevented exposure to the sun and to any showers, which would both have spoiled the fish.

Wind-drying uses the hot summer winds that are funneled into the Fraser Canyon to remove moisture from hanging salmon, most likely caught in the same area of the Fraser River. Drying racks, similar to the air-drying racks used in the Fraser Valley, were erected on the highest perches near the river and convenient processing areas. Perching the fish in these areas exposed it to the strongest winds of the canyon, which hastened the drying process and limited the amount of insects having access to the salmon. It took a week for the salmon to dry to a consistency similar to that of beef jerky. The drying racks used to wind-dry are still utilized, and can be seen from the Fraser River and from the highway that travels alongside the canyon.

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