Sunday, February 19, 2012

Icy Strait Point Celebrates Their Heritage

You may never have heard of it, but it’s one of Alaska’s treasures and a port of call for many cruise ships. Located 50 miles west of Juneau, Icy Strait Point is a privately owned destination for cruise ship passengers and independent travelers. Just over a mile from the Native village of Hoonah, the wilderness port allows guests to experience Tlingit culture, Alaska-sized adventures—pictured here is a whale sighting—and unspoiled wilderness. Icy Strait Point is owned by Huna Totem Corporation, the Native village corporation for Hoonah.

Icy Strait Point is planning a series of events throughout the 2012 summer season to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Hoonah Packing Co. cannery, located at the heart of the Alaska Native-owned cruise ship destination.

A few special treats are in store for guests each day that a cruise ship is in port—that’s 46 days between May and September. The 100th guest to disembark the cruise ship in the morning will receive a prize. Later in the day, Icy Strait Point historian Johan Dybdahl will lead a complimentary tour of the cannery. Guests also will find salmon specials on the Cookhouse Restaurant menu. This is the same eatery that served Hoonah Packing Co. cannery workers as far back as 1912.

Celebratory events will take place on Icy Strait Pont’s Neighbor’s Days, offered twice a season to encourage Juneau or Gustavus residents and other locals to visit. On those days, Icy Strait Point offers packages that include transportation from Juneau or Gustavus and one excursion.

The 100-year celebration kick-off event will take place on Saturday, June 23, which corresponds with the traditional start of the fishing season and will focus on the fishing history of the Icy Strait Point site and cannery. Many of the fishermen who delivered fish to the cannery or utilized the maintenance facility at the cannery will be on hand to share stories about their experiences.

A second event on Saturday, August 18, will focus on the history of the cannery itself and the people who worked there. Many Hoonah community members had family who worked at the patch table, slime line or fish house, and most love telling stories about their experiences around the cannery grounds. The cannery was key in helping the community of Hoonah after the devastating fire of June 14, 1944, that destroyed most of the village.

Once the economic engine of the nearby village of Hoonah, the cannery is no longer used to process fish. Its facilities have been fully restored and guests can now take tours to find out how it operated in 1912 and enjoy a free museum that offers a historical look at the area and the commercial fishing industry in Southeast Alaska. Visitors can learn about the canning process from beginning to end through interpretive displays and may even “can” a souvenir. (Items are vacuum-sealed and then canned to mail home or to friends and relatives.) Many of the original canning labels are on display.

The cannery is also home to 11 Alaskan-owned shops, offering a carefully curated selection of Alaska Native art and crafts, wild Alaska salmon, handmade soaps, candles and beads, local Native remedies and Icy Strait Point logo items. The shops are staffed by Alaskans, many of whom are from Hoonah, and the products are locally sourced.

Meet the people who will greet you at Icy Strait Point and then take a vitual whale-spotting cruise.

Image and Videos Courtesy of Icy Strait Point

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