1906Slade Gorton, John Pew and two other fisheries merged to form Gorton-Pew Fisheries.Economy and Industry, Local Businesses, Maritime & Fishing Industry

Gorton-Pew Fisheries Company, c. 1920. Courtesy of Cape Ann Museum Library & Archives, Photo 15291
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Slade Gorton lost his job as superintendent at the Annisquam Cotton Mill in Rockport when it was destroyed by fire in 1882. He switched interests by launching a fish processing and marketing business from the building known as Motif #1 in Rockport just as Cape Ann’s fishing industry was booming. With his wife and sons, the family placed billboards along the rail lines advertising fileted salt cod and would later add boxed mackerel and fish cakes to their inventory. Gorton’s name became synonymous nationally with Gloucester fish products.

In 1906, Gorton merged with John Pew’s company to form Gorton-Pew. They created a vertically integrated firm that deployed 55 fishing vessels with 1,000 fishermen and employed another 1,000 people at onshore processing plants to dry, bone, cut, smoke, package, and ship millions of pounds of fish each year. Within the merger’s early years, four other firms would be added to the Gorton-Pew conglomerate. After nearly facing bankruptcy in the 1920s when a buyer defaulted on a million-dollar order, Gorton’s rebounded when newly patented flash-freezing techniques invented by Clarence Birdseye made Gorton’s frozen fish sticks a household name.

“Gloucester Fish Companies Merge.” https://www.massmoments.org/moment-details/gloucester-fish-companies-merge.html. Morris, John N. Alone at Sea: Gloucester in the Age of the Dorymen, 1623 - 1939. Commonwealth Editions, 2010.
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