I'm posting this Steveston History because it sums up Steveston more accurately than I ever could! It's taken from the Encyclopedia of British Columbia - an online resource.
Steveston village is a historic salmon canning centre in the southwest corner of Richmond, at the mouth of the south arm of the Fraser River. The flat, fertile island began attracting settlers in the 1860s.
The village is named for Manoah Steves, who arrived with his family in 1878 and began a dairy farm. His son Herbert actually developed the townsite, which became Steveston in 1889. Salmon canning began on the river in 1871; by the 1890s there were 45 canneries, about half at Steveston.
Each summer large numbers of Japanese, Chinese, First Nations, and Euro-Canadian fishers and cannery workers descended on the village. The fishery also supported a significant boatbuilding and shipbuilding industry. Sailing ships from around the world visited the harbour to take on cargoes of canned salmon.
The peak of civic aspirations was pre-WWI, when Steveston was promoted as Salmonopolis, a supposed rival of Vancouver, but canning activity slowly declined and finally ceased in the 1990s. The Gulf of Georgia Cannery, built in 1894 and at one time the largest plant in BC, was reopened as a national historic site in 1994.
Japanese Canadians formed a large part of Steveston's population; their internment during WWII was a serious blow to the community, though some of the internees returned when they were allowed.
Post-war Steveston developed along with Richmond into a residential suburb for Vancouver as farmland was gobbled up for housing. Since the 1970s the community, which remains an active fishing port, has developed its heritage character and its waterfront to attract business and tourism.
Reading: Duncan and Susan Stacey, Salmonopolis: The Steveston Story, 1994.
Every year on Canada Day (July 1st, Canada's national birthday), people come to Steveston for the Salmon Festival. While it is a festival to celebrate Canada Day, it actually has more to do with celebrating Steveston's fishing heritage. This is a festival that has been a major part of the Steveston community for the past 63 years.
It starts off with a local parade down Moncton Street consisting of clowns, war vets, Shriners on miniature motorcycles, vintage cars, local non-profit organizations, local politicians, glitzy floats, local sports teams, children's dance teams, local martial arts teams, the local police department, fire department, high school marching bands, Scottish bagpipe bands... the typical parade showcasing all that makes up the local community.
Once the parade ends (with the firetrucks), the crowds shift over to the Steveston Community Centre grounds for entertainment, a gigantic multicultural food fair, a carnival (with rides and games), a garden show, a trade show, a craft fair, a children's fair, a baseball game, demonstrations from the Steveston Martial Arts centre, a Japanese cultural exhibit... and then the famous salmon bake, where they BBQ hundreds of filets of salmon over an open-pit fire.
On Canada Day the majority of businesses in Steveston village remain open. There's a massive beer garden at the Buck & Ear pub with live music. Fishing boats display their fresh catch of prawns, salmon, cod, octopus, and whatever else is in season. The Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic site keeps their museum free to the public. Moncton Street is closed to traffic, making the village pedestrian-only. It's definitely a fun time to visit Steveston and a community tradition that is alive and well!
The Steveston area was the site where the first group of Japanese immigrants to Canada arrived. There are statues and plaques in Steveston to commemorate this event. The site of the BC packers also honors Japanese fishermen, as shown in this photo.
In Steveston there is a historic site where you will see the original headquarters and home port of the BC Packers company. It was one of the largest fish processing plants in the world. And it was one of British Columbia's most important and largest.
I still have to get used to these commemmorate name plates at the public benches.
You'll find them at the boardwalk