Watching the Salmon Festival parade every July 1st has been a family traditional spanning several generations. While I admit that it can be hokey and amateurish, it has that small town charm to it, bringing all aspects of the local community together. My family would often meet up out infront of the Steveston Cannery Cafe on Moncton Street to watch the parade. For us it wasn't just about the parade, but more of a family get together, when my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins drop by.
First, the parade always starts off with the shriners on their little motorcycles. It then follows with local politicians and business representatives driving vintage cars or swanky convertibles, often decorated with balloons or streamers. Then come the bands - war veteran bands, bagpipe bands, school bands, etc. Then you get the local clubs, like the local gymnastics club, the local hockey club, the local fencing club. You get the occasional float and some really weird things. Because Steveston's sister city is Wakayama, Japan, you get the Wakayama bringing in some beautiful Japanese culture to the parade. You might get the local martia arts clubs doing some demonstrations along the way. Then there are the random elements like clowns and local charities walking along with banners. The parade finally ends when the firetrucks come.
A fantastic walk-through of Steveston's past and present can be experienced on the VirtualMuseum.ca's website. Photos and background information is provided along the way.
There once was a family of swans that lived along the banks of the Fraser River in Steveston. Rumour has it that they were originally brought to a local golf course in Surrey or Langley, except they escaped and fled to Steveston. It's such an odd sight to see these swans in Steveston because they're such beautiful birds, but they've chosen to live in a muddy river among the scum from the local fishing boats. They stand out like a sore thumb, but they don't seem to mind it that much!
A few years ago a man tried to steal the swans off the docks at Steveston Landing. My Uncle Ray, who's a local Steveston personality, and Tim from "Timothy's Frozen Yogourt" saw the man literally carrying the swans away, so they stopped the man. While it wasn't really a messy situation, I do believe the police were called. Apparently the man felt that his actions were justified. His reason for stealing the swans was that they weren't really from Steveston anyway!
The swans continued to live in Steveston. One year, they gave birth to a bunch of little goslings. Whether upstream at Britannia Shipyards, or downstream by Fisherman's Wharf, the swans could be seen paddling up and down along the shoreline.
However, a year or two ago it was considered an ecological crisis to keep breeding swans in the Fraser River estuary. Biologists and ecologists looked at Toronto as an example, citing that Toronto's natural ecosystems have been overrun by the swans. As a result, the native birds and other species were becoming rare. Steveston didn't want that to happen, so they got rid of the swans. The swans were all captured and moved somewhere else. I'm not sure of the details. However, I'm not sure this plan worked so well, because I think a few swans snuck back! I'm pretty sure I saw a swan or two hanging around Steveston Landing back in June!
Fondest memory: The amazing Buddhist Temple located just outside of Steveston, south of Richmond is an amazing place. The architecture and statues they have there are wonderful. This Guanyin statue in the photo is pretty amazing. I consider this Buddhist Temple located on Steveston Highway a must see!
Back in July of 2002, a month before the Tall Ships Festival arrived Steveston, the Japanese Nippon Maru docked on the shore of the Fraser River, just down from Steveston. Complete with members of the Japanese Navy who would tour around Steveston in uniform, the Nippon Maru held locals captivated by its beauty and history.
Historically, Steveston always had a strong connection with Japan. Back in the mid 1800's, many of the first fishermen in Steveston were Japanese. Steveston had a *huge* Japanese population in the late 19th and early 20th century... up until World War two, when Canada's then-racist and paranoid provincial government interned the Japanese Canadians into camps, fearful that they were Axis spies. These fishermen - Canadian born, but of Japanese race, had their boats and homes taken away, simply because of their race. Many people, including Canadians, were not taught about this sad chapter in Canadian history, but it happened, and should be remembered. Steveston was hit the hardest.
After the internment, Steveston's Japanese community never fully regained its population and cultural dominance, but slowly it re-emerged, families at a time.
Nowadays, if you drive down Moncton Street, many of the homes have Japanese rock gardens in their front yard. Many of these families are descendants from the first Japanese fishermen in Steveston. Even my old school, Tomekichi Homma elementary, is named after a very influencial Japanese man from Steveston. Today Steveston cherishes its ties with the Japanese commuity and this is evident wherever you look, from the Japanese architecture, to the Japanese gardens. Japanese culture *is* Steveston culture. Keep an eye out for it when you're visiting. It's one reason that makes Steveston's history unique.
Fondest memory: In December Steveston is decorated for Christmas. The stores have their windows painted, and the Christmas lights are strung over across like a banner over the street. There's even a little Christmas tree at Steveston Landing (as seen in this picture). I took this picture on December 22, 2002... a few days before Christmas, just as the sun was setting.
Favorite thing: If you're into painting or photography, Steveston is paradise. There are literally hundeds of subjects full of character and history. This is the view from the Government Fishing wharf looking east down the Fraser River. The red roofed building is Steveston Landing, the public wharf and waterfront. The photo was taken on a cold overcast day in December 2002. Generally I find these days give Steveston a mystical atmosphere... perhaps it's the way the clouds influence the lighting.
Favorite thing: At the foot of Third Avenue is the Government fishing wharf. You'll find the commercial fishing fleet here, all docked up. Back in the 80's and earlier, this would be the place where the public would come to buy fresh fish off the boats, however, the public sales have since moved to the neighbouring "Steveston Landing" wharf. Still, the government wharf is worth visiting for a quick look, as you'll see some of the most beautiful fishing boats here. Some of the fishermen live on their boats, so you'll always find interesting characters wandering about too! The view from the wharf is also great as you can see out to Vancouver Island, the Olympic Peninsula and the Gulf Islands. On a clear day you can see a stunning view of Mount Baker to the east.
At the boardwalk is a sculpture of an orca called "First Breath".
The piece of art is donated by the Vancouver Whale Wtch.
It's been made by 3 sculptors using chainsaws only.
The harbour waterfront is the first place to explore.
The big question is: What will be next?
Fondest memory: The boardwalk.