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Published: August 17th 2015
The fishing village of Steveston is a historic salmon canning centre at the mouth of the South Arm of the Fraser River on the SW tip of Lulu Island in Richmond BC. Once home to 15 canneries, it no longer has a cannery although it’s currently home to Canada's largest fishing fleet of more than 600 vessels. Steveston is still very much an attractive fishing village with a laid back village atmosphere so the tourism industry is quickly gaining ground with thousands of visitors pouring onto its streets on sunny days. In fact, Steveston is such a pretty village that it is a popular location for many movie and TV productions. Most importantly, Steveston is home to two National Historic Sites , the Gulf of Georgia Cannery, once nicknamed the "Monster Cannery," and Britannia Heritage Shipyard Park.
Today, Steveston Village is better known as a place to get away from the rat-race. Thousands flock to eat on the waterfront, or to buy fresh seafood directly from the fishers at the Public Fish Sales Float at Fisherman's Wharf, or to check out the great shops, many with camera in hand to take advantage of many photo ops at every turn. Along
The fishing village of Steveston, situated on the Pacific Coast at the mouth of the Fraser River, is located in the SW corner of the city of Richmond which is part of greater Vancouver. The fishing village of Ladner (green) across the river in the municipality of Delta is another favorite of ours for waterfront fish & chips ;o)
with Richmond, post-war Steveston developed into a residential suburb for Vancouver as farmland was converted to housing. Founding
Steveston was founded in 1880 by William Herbert Steves, hence the name. It has since been absorbed into the city of Richmond, BC.
Manoah Steves arrived with his family around 1877-1878 from Moncton, New Brunswick via Chatham, Ontario. They were the first white family to settle in the area. Steves' son William Herbert actually developed the townsite which became Steveston in 1889. Salmon Canning:
Salmon canning began on the river in 1871. By the 1890s there were 45 canneries, about half of them at Steveston. Salmon-canning was so much part of the life of Steveston that it was also known as Salmonopolis. Each summer large numbers of Japanese, Chinese, First Nations, & European fishermen & cannery workers would descend on the village, joining a growing year-round settlement. Sadly, canning activity slowly declined and finally ceased in the 1990s. The historic Gulf of Georgia Cannery:
Built in 1894, it was the largest plant in British Columbia at one time. It reopened as a National Historic Site of Canada in 1994, and remains open today, recently given an award for Canada's
best historic site. At the Cannery, visitors discover what made Steveston one of the most important ports in North America at the height of the salmon-canning industry, exploring the vast machines and then-modern technologies in what was the largest building of its kind, still standing on wooden pilings over the Fraser River. By 1890, Steveston was a full-blown boom town, with 15 canneries along its waterfront and record catches of salmon, herring and other species. Steveston canneries were shipping salmon overseas, setting a record of 16-million pounds in 1901. This natural bounty supported many hotels, an opera house, saloons and bawdy houses, as well as gambling tables and opium dens to service the fishing-season population of 10,000. However, by 1912, the fish processing lines had become automated, reducing the town's population by nearly half. In 1918, after a string of bad fishing seasons and several disastrous fires, several of the canneries merged or closed. B.C. Packers, the last cannery in Steveston, canned more salmon in 1985 than all Steveston canneries together in the boom year of 1901. A strike in 1900 over the price of fish found the strikers facing a Vancouver militia company. Britannia Heritage Shipyard Park:
Pajos on the wharf's boardwalk
for fish & chips & other fresh seafood. One of the reasons we came here ;o) The village is famous for its English-style fish and chips as well as wild-caught salmon, halibut, crab, salmon, tuna, mussels and more which can be bought right off the docks.
fishery also supported a significant boatbuilding and shipbuilding industry in Steveston. Sailing ships from around the world visited the harbour to take on cargoes of canned salmon. The workstations and bunkhouses of the nearby Britannia Shipyards stand in testament to a time when immigrants from around the world joined Canadian and First Nation workers in what became one of the most multicultural communities on the continent. More info:
http://www.richmond.ca/culture/sites/britannia/about.htm Garry Point Park:
Garry Point Park is the major park in Steveston, located at the SW tip of the community (and Lulu Island). The point of land was named in 1827 to honour Nicholas Garry, former Deputy Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, who used that part of the land to locate the navigable entrance to the Fraser River. Garry Point Park opened June 3, 1989 on the southwestern-most corner of Lulu Island and is a popular spot for strolling, watching ships go by, picnics, kite flying and more. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State. Garry Point Park was the major host location for the Vancouver-area festivities of the 2002 Tall Ships Challenge. Approximately 400,000 people came to see
hundreds of restored sailing ships dock along the coastline. While the event was a spectacular attraction for families, it was a financial flop, and it received strong criticism from Richmond City Council. Steveston’s Japanese Canadians:
Japanese Canadians have always formed a large part of Steveston's population. Their internment during World War II after the attack at Pearl Harbour was a serious blow to the community. The Canadian government arrested Japanese-Canadian community leaders & confiscated Japanese-owned fishing boats, then ordered the evacuation of all Japanese males over the age of 18, which was later expanded to include women and children. A total of 2,600 men, women and children of Japanese decent from Steveston were moved by train to the BC interior and interned during war. It wasn't until 1949—4 years after the end of hostilities—that a law was passed allowing them to return to the coast. Some of the internees returned when they were allowed and a sizeable Japanese Canadian community still exists. A devastating fire in 1918 razed the Chinese & Japanese sections of the village. In 1972, the first purpose-built Martial Arts Centre, or dojo, outside Japan opened in Steveston. The martial arts centre, now a Steveston landmark,
View down the boardwalk
from our table at Pajos. On sunny days, visitors flock to Steveston's waterfront boardwalks to enjoy the scenery, people and food.
is currently located adjacent to the Steveston Community Centre. More info:
http://historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=2605 Many links for more info:
Great info + video
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