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Clam Factory

The Memory Lane Clam Factory was built in 2004, and is a replica of the General Seafoods clam factory in Ostrea Lake. Unlike the other buildings at Memory Lane, the Clam Factory does not contain artifacts, and is used as a special event building and rental venue for dances, weddings and other functions.

The canning of shellfish, such as clams, lobster, crab, and oysters, developed as an industry around the early 1900s, when equipment, canning materials, and a general knowledge of the science of canning coincided with a demand for canned goods. In Nova Scotia, during the early 1900s, canning was often done in “kitchen canneries” such as a small shed adjacent to the wharf or site where shellfish were brought in. On the Eastern Shore, there were many small “canneries” (primarily lobster and clam) that produced products which ranged in quality and were probably bought by a wholesaler who then labelled them as their own brand.

The label shown here is from a clam canning operation that was run by Ebenezer Homans during the late 1920s and early 1930s. He marketed the clams under his own name and operated a lobster cannery as well. The clam and lobster factories of the 1940s were more modern in their approach and produced a superior product. Between 1943 and 1953 it is estimated that there were at least five clam factories operating along the Eastern Shore between Petpeswick and Clam Harbour. There were certainly many more operating around the province. These factories had a significant impact on the local economy, with each factory employing about 20 people as diggers, steamers, shuckers, and packers.

Many women who otherwise would have left the community in search of employment were employed in the local canneries, as shown in the above picture of the Ostrea Lake Clam Factory. While the factories are remembered as bringing a boom to the local economy, their tenure was brief. The large number of factories in such a small area, led to over harvesting, and the eventual close of the factories which could not obtain enough shellfish to make the operations profitable.