Dr. Jim Allan Introduces Breaking the Candace: The 300 Spear Street Project


The following is a transcript of the above video.

Hi, I'm Dr. Jim Allan Principal Archaeologist for William Self Associates. Welcome to Breaking the Candace: The 300 Spear Street Project presented by the Museum of Underwater Archaeology.

We're looking at the remains of the Candace which is a nineteenth-century whaling ship that sailed into San Francisco in the early 1850s, returning from an arctic whaling voyage that it had just completed and it was on its way back home to the east coast. It was leaking badly when it arrived in San Francisco, so much so that the customs officer here condemned it and refused to let it leave the port. The ship was eventually acquired by Charles Hare who brought it to his ship breaking yard and started to disassemble it and for whatever reason stopped before the job was completely finished.

The ship's significance is its ability to tell a number of different stories about San Francisco and about that era: not only about the whaling industry of the 1850s and the early to mid nineteenth-century, but also the fact that San Francisco at the time was a city that was just beginning to develop its industrial and commercial enterprises. Charles Hare, being one of them, he acquired numerous vessels that were abandoned during the gold rush and disassembled them selling the parts to various industries in San Francisco. The wood went to the foundries - the recyclable ship parts went to the various ship building enterprises that were starting up in San Francisco at the time. So the ship has the ability to reflect both of those stories as well as the fact that the labor force that Charles Hare used was comprised mostly of Chinese fishermen who were excluded from every other economic enterprise in the city.

This was very dirty, hard, low paying work. It was probably the only work the Chinese laborers could get and it benefited Hare because of the fact he was able to pay them probably much less than he would have had to have paid anyone else. So we have the whole story of the Chinese fishing enterprise, the ability of the Chinese to work for, or the willingness of the Chinese to work for, far less than their Anglo counterparts.

We have that whole concept and the idea of recycling as an industry at the time not nearly as sophisticated or without, certainly at the time lacking, the cache that recycling has today but at the time it was a viable enterprise that, although it was looked down upon, it was a necessary one within the city to provide the raw materials of the industrial growth of the city at that time.

- Dr. Jim Allan, Principal Archaeologist for William Self Associates