Back near the turn of the last century, the most valuable commercial fisheries in the world, excepting only the oyster and herring fisheries, were those supported by salmon. Of these the most important, by far, were the salmon fisheries of the Pacific coast of North America (California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska, including also British Columbia.) Salmon was a mainstay of life of the Northwest Coast Indians. Fresh or preserved salmon, in turn, became a staple food for HBC posts west of the Rocky Mountains.
With the HBC opening of their offices in Honolulu in 1829, the company’s focus turned to marketing two of its home-region’s primary resources, salmon and timber. By 1830, the HBC was preserving salmon on the Columbia River and at Fort Langley on the Fraser River as well, mainly to feed Company personnel, but with some 200 to 300 barrels of Columbia River salmon exported that year, presumably all to Hawai’i. Just when that notable dish, lomi lomi salmon, first made its appearance is unknown, but if it was in fashion by the 1830s, the HBC can take credit for being the main provider of its principal ingredient.