Women at the turn of the 20th century were increasingly involved in paid work outside the home. For wage-earning women in the Old Port section of Portland, the jobs ranged from canning fish and vegetables to setting type. A study done in 1907 found many women did not earn living wages.
By the 1900s, numerous fish canneries began operating in Center Harbor, located within the Brooklin community. For over thirty years, these plants were an important factor in the community.
At least two of them were part of the Seacoast Canning cartel: Columbian Canning and the firm of Mawhinney and Ramsdell. Perhaps Union was also.