From our humble start in a weathered building on the Halifax waterfront to a diverse seafood company that sells and processes millions of pounds of seafood annually, Fisherman’s Market has undergone remarkable growth over the decades.
In the Beginning
Fisherman’s Market opened in 1948 and was originally owned by Ross Corkum, whose first day of sales amounted to $1.43.
However, by 1951, Corkum was making strides, he acquired a neighbouring fish market, built a stone wharf, and purchased a hoist to unload fish directly from the boats. Another expansion quickly followed—this time, adding on a processing room, cooler and freezer, and an ice machine—as the company was not only selling fish, but also supplying product to local fish peddlers.
In 1961, Corkum recruited his nephew Fred Greene, with a background in accounting, to help create a system for the business. “After three months, I was still there and got to like it,” said Fred. He then decided to stay, and in 1967 he purchased Fisherman’s Market, becoming president and co-owner of the company.
Under Fred Greene’s leadership, Fisherman’s Market considerably grew.
“We picked up some super market business, which we didn’t have before. I landed the IGA stores and in those days, there were 156 stores and boy, did that ever set us up. We also started to get a few Sobeys stores and some other markets around town. Then we got into selling fish to the fish-and-chip trade.” Said Greene
Outside of the region, Greene landed accounts in Montreal, Hamilton, Toronto and elsewhere, and by the 1970s, Fisherman’s Market was the biggest distributor of fillets in Nova Scotia. The addition of the lobster business pushed the company's success even further.
“Eventually, we had to move because we had grown too much. We opened a big unloading facility in Woodside, and one in Sambro, and in 1984, we opened one in Canso. We were buying fish all over the place and then got into the trucking.”
Our company’s flagship facility on the Bedford Highway came about in the early 1990s when Fisherman’s Market bought out another fish business, meaning more space for product and more staff. “We soon grew into the facility and then grew out of it, and needed more space for lobster operations.” With all this growth, it was only natural for the current general manager and co-owner Monte Snow to come onboard in 1993.
This was followed by the purchase and renovation of a buying station and tank house in Digby in 2002, plus lobster facilities added in Ingomar, North East Harbour, and North West Harbour in the Shelburne area.
Our Digby facility, which buys lobsters from local fisherman from the surrounding area. The boats in the picture are local lobster boats loaded to set in the District 34 fishing area.
The Next Chapter
Fred celebrated his 81st Birthday, and in 2021 he decided to retire his ownership in Fisherman's Market. Fred and Monte put a lot of effort into finding a new partner, that would be the right fit to ensure the continued success of the company, and finally Liverpool's long-standing Mersey Seafoods joined on as co-owner with Monte.
Mersey also acquired interest in Scotia Harvest two years ago, another well-known seafood company based in Digby, Nova Scotia. The union of these three great Nova Scotia companies forms the Mersey Group.
An Eye to the Future
With continued upgrades—and incorporating all of our operations—Fisherman’s Market now has storage capacity for up to 1,000,000 pounds of live lobster. In addition to purchasing and selling over 500,000 pounds of frozen product from all over the world, we also offer one of the largest varieties of seafood in Eastern Canada.
Our Bedford Highway location has expanded to include more freezer, cooler, storage, and office space, and we even have our own on-site smoke house, Seabright Smokehouse, that naturally smokes salmon, haddock, cod, and mackerel.
In store, seafood products can be purchased fresh or frozen, whole or cut into fillets, and salted as well as smoked. Lobsters and crab can be purchased live or cooked and in any quantity. This retail side of the business is supported by Fisherman’s Market’s processing facilities on the lower level of the building.
With our loyal customer base, locally, regionally, and nationally—plus the exportation of seafood to over 20 countries around the world—Fisherman’s Market has become a substantially diversified company since our beginning in 1948, and we continue to position ourselves for growth in a very competitive industry. Monte Snow said, “We’re continually looking at new markets worldwide and trying to develop our markets in Atlantic Canada and throughout Canada and the U.S. We are not standing still.”
Today, Fisherman’s Market proudly employs over 150 skilled and knowledgeable individuals. “No company or team can make it alone and that is one of the strengths we have as a company, a dedicated and experienced staff,” Snow said. “In fact, we have approximately 20 members of our management team that have in excess of 20 years of experience working for the company and many, many more with over 10 years—and that’s no fishing story.”
*Excerpts taken from The Chronicle Herald’s “Fisherman’s Market – Celebrating Our 65th Anniversary”, a custom content feature written by Tom Peters.