Often thought of as one of the best community centres in the city of Richmond, the Steveston Community Centre has been an important part of the neighbourhood for decades.
It's here where you'll find the Richmond Public Library's Steveston branch, outdoor and indoor tennis courts, a children's wading pool, a large children's playground, an outdoor public swimming pool, several gymnasiums, pool tables and games room, squash courts, fitness trails, a baseball diamond, a lacrosse box, a martial arts dojo, and really friendly staff!
The Steveston Community Centre hosts many events throughout the years such as the Steveston Salmon Festival, car shows, wood working shows, and craft fairs.
They also have a wide selection of leisure programs, whether it's sports, arts & crafts, dance, language, or camps. These programs are for all ages.
I've been coming to the Steveston Community Centre ever since I was a little girl. I remember being a part of the library's reading club in the summer months. I remember taking swimming lessons here when I was 9, and then returning the pool as a 14 year old with friends to gawk at the guys. I remember taking art and cooking classes when I was 8 years old. I remember how my mom signed me and my best friend up for jazz dance lessons when we were 6 years old, and how I refused to participate! I remember their Easter egg hunts at Easter time. I remember taking tennis lessons with my grade 6 class. I remember walking here with my grade 4 class so we could draw the architecture of the then-newly renovated building. I have video footage of me as a 2 year old, going down the slide on my stomach, feet-first, as I was too afraid of heights.
The Steveston Community Centre, as you can gather, has been a significant part of my childhood, and I will always associate it with fond memories! Perhaps it's more of a place you'd appreciate more if you lived here, or if you had kids, but to me this place is truly at the heart of the Steveston community and its environment has always been welcoming.
Moncton Street is the historical heart of Steveston village. It's along Moncton Street, between No 1 Road and Third Avenue where you'll find a lot of quaint shops, restaurants, and historic buildings. You can easily stroll up and down Moncton Street within 15 minutes, however, you can easily spend an hour or two exploring the shops and side streets along the way.
Some buildings of note on Moncton Street:
The red, brick building on Moncton and 2nd Avenue. This is one of the only buildings that survived the Steveston fire of 1912. Located inside this building are two local gift shops: Pieces and Nikaido Gifts. Across the street, Marine Garage hasn't changed, ever.
The Steveston Cannery Café building used to be an old bunk house for cannery workers in the late 19th century. It used to be a radio repair shop up until the 80's when it was turned into the restaurant that still exists today. Across the street was once Marine Grocer - a grocery store owned and operated by a local Japanese family. It then ran as a convenience store and donut shop throughout the 90's and only recently has turned into an old school Romanian bakery complete with fire pit oven and smoke billowing out the chimney.
The Steveston Museum used to be Steveston's first bank in the 1890's. Now it's a museum and a functioning post office.
Funktion Junktion used to be a barber shop and residential unit after WWII. My great-grandfather was the barber and my grandfather lived in the back end of the bulding. It was turned into an antique shop in the 80's then turned into an art shop in the 90's. In 2003 my uncle turned it into a second hand store. It was a florist for a short time after, but now my cousin runs a bike repair and sports consignment shop there.
The Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site is a wonderful museum located inside of a restored cannery. Unfortunately it's only open between April and October, however, if you're in town when it's open, go!
This cannery in particular is one of the oldest structures in Steveston. Hanging over the mouth of the Fraser River, it used to function as a real working cannery from the 1890's until it closed permanently in 1984.
The museum highlights BC's role in the fishing industry, such as what kind of fish was caught, what boats/techniques were used, and how the fish were processed. Yet, it also focuses on the social history of commercial fishing. For example, you'll learn how certain job tasks were segregated to specific races and sexes, and how the Canadian government treated Steveston's Japanese fishermen during WWII.
Being a national historic site, the museum's displays are both in English and French. They also offer guided tours in both languages.
Ideally, you'll spend 1-2 hours here.
While you can purchase admission tickets at the door, there are discount tickets available at Tourism Vancouver's tourist info centres. There's also a 2 for 1 coupon in the Vancouver edition of the Entertainment Book. And if you visit on July 1st (Canada Day), admission is free!
This is a memorial monument located east of Steveston village, nearby the western entrance to the Britannia Shipyards. It is devoted to the many Japanese fisherman who contribued to both the commercial fishing industry and British Columbia. Prior to 1944, Japanese men made up the majority of Steveston's workers. In World War II, this changed, as anyone with Japanese heritage was forced into internment camps, their belongings, homes, and boats confiscated by the government.
Fisherman's Wharf is a public fish sales wharf located at Steveston Landing. The idea is that you can come here and purchase fish off the boats from the fishers that caught them. There is no scheduled time when boats will be there - it's completely dependent upon the fishers and what's in season. I've noticed that there's more activity on the weekends than during the weekdays, as it's more profitable for the fishers to bring their boats then.
Note that the fish on these boats have all been frozen at sea before coming back to shore. Most of these fish have actually been thawed. Some of the things you see on these boats vary depending on what's in season. While salmon and prawns are standard, sometimes you'll see halibut, tuna, octopus, cod, shark, and all kinds of oddities you would never expect to find.
Even if you have no interest in purchasing fish, most people take the short stroll down the wharf just for the view. It makes a great place to enjoy fish and chips or frozen yogourt. The wharf heads into the Fraser River and gives you beautiful views of waterfront and Mount Baker in the distance. Sometimes, depending on the season, you can see wildlife such as harbour seals or sea lions. There are sometimes swans, ducks and geese as well. There are always crows and seagulls hanging around, trying to steal food.
Although fishing boats are allowed to use this wharf, it is not a wharf that can be used for pleasure boating. You must speak with the Steveston Harbour Authority for details on that kind of information.
You may also see Vancouver Whale Watch zodiaks docking at Fisherman's Wharf (or their orange life-suit clad passengers!) No, there are no whales in Steveston - they don't come up the river. These whale watching vessels leave from Steveston and head way out to These trips take 3-5 hours.
At the very end of Fisherman's Wharf is the River Queen harbour tour - a short narrated tour of Steveston harbour.
This is a really beautiful heritage site located on the Fraser River just east of Steveston village. It's a series of heritage structures dating back as early as 1885 - some of them built on wooden stilts over the river - most of which were used back in the early 20th century as a place where boat builders would construct and repair fishing boats for the commercial fishing fleet in Steveston.
The buildings you see are all the original structures and are all made out of wood. Some of the buildings are closed to the general public as they're undergoing restoration (while awaiting funding). Other buildings are open to the public, but only during specific hours on specific days.
The Murakami Visitors Centre is also located on the Britannia Shipyards site. While there is visitor information, it is also the original home and boatyard of the Murakami family (see my Murakami House tip for more information).
The Britannia Shipyards are located on Steveston Channel - the narrow Fraser River channel between Richmond and Shady Island, so the water's very sheltered. You can often see bald eagles nesting across in the trees on Shady Island - it's hard to miss their gigantic nest! In the summer the walkways are in bloom with wild flowers while the smells of the wild grasses are intoxicating. You'll often see swans, ducks, and other waterfowl foraging in the tall grasses at the water's edge. Though the water is too murky to see any fish, this estuary is an important part in what's one of the most important salmon producing rivers in the world.
One of my favourite times to be here is during the evening when the sun is setting, casting an orange glow over the land and a pink hue in the sky and the distant Mount Baker. It's definitely one of Steveston's most picturesque spots.
In the span of Steveston's 100+ years, Steveston Landing is relatively new. Built in the 1980's, it rejuvenated Steveston from an old, run down, commercial fishing town into a beautiful, thriving village. This is what started to bring tourists back into Steveston.
Steveston Landing is nowadays what most visitors remember most when visiting the village. It's a collection of restaurants and shops located on a boardwalk at the edge of the Fraser River. However, Fisherman's Wharf is also located at Steveston Landing - a public wharf where you can purchase fresh seafood off the boats on weekends.
In the summer time Steveston Landing can be a busy place. The restaurant patios are full of people, seagulls are everywhere, the smell of fish & chips is in the air, there are musicians busking, the wharf is full of fishing boats selling fresh seafood, people in orange life suits are seen getting ready for a whale watching trip, and it's generally a lively area with people meandering through, just soaking up the atmosphere. In the winter, however, Steveston Landing tends to be a lot more quiet.
While Steveston Landing doesn't actually hold any real historical signicance, it's seen as a focal point to the rebirth of Steveston's new commercial identity as a tourist-friendly village.
One of the few original buildings from Steveston of the early 1900's, this used to be the Steveston bank. From the 1980's and onwards (and perhaps even earlier), this building has been used as the Steveston Post Office and the Steveston Museum - all in one building. The main floor is a museum. There's shelving full of old grocery products and tins from the early 1900's; it represents what a general store in Steveston would have looked like at the beginning of the 20th century. Upstairs, there are various displays showing what the living quarters of the bank looked like, complete with the parents bed, a children's bed, toys, books, gramaphones, and the chamber pot! There's also a display illustrating what Steveston used to look like in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Various historical photographs portray Steveston as this hustle and bustle city-to-be. Spending a few minutes in this museum will teach you a lot about Steveston's historical past.
Side note: this building has been used in dozens of movies and TV shows.
Take a stroll along the old heritage site, and learn some local history of Steveston. The Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site, and the London Heritage Farm.
Steveston has a long history on the West Coast here, open the link for some pertinent information related to this area.
There's an open-air fish market, where you can choose what you buy directly off the boats. On a sunny day, this can be a pleasant place to spend a few hours. There are a few drinking establishments here to refresh your taste buds.
During the summer hours, live music on the docks, and featured Community events happen. Right up until the last month of the year.
There are a lot of new Apartments and Condo's being built down here, so the increase in population is sure to be noticed, but from what I've seen, it's being done with some good taste.
Want to live in a somewhat sleepy community?
Move to Steveston.
It's here where you'll find Canada's largest fishing fleet. These commercial wharves were essentially the only publically-accessible wharves in Steveston before the 1990's. Back then, it was here where people would come to purchase fresh salmon, prawns, and halibut off the local gillnetters, seiners, and trawlers.
Nowadays fish is no longer sold off the boats here, but it's here where all the fishing boats stay moored in and out of season. The public is still welcome to walk down each wharf to observe the boats. Chances are you'll run into a local commercial fisherman and women along the public wharves, going about their daily lives.
Garry Point is a beautiful 39 acre park at the mouth of the Fraser River - the most south-western corner of Richmond. It's here where the greenish muddy river flows into the blue depths of Georgia Strait, offering unobstructed panoramic views of Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, the North Shore mountains, Mount Baker, and the Sunshine Coast.
Because Garry Point's a short 5-10 minute leisurely walk from the shops and restaurants of Steveston, it makes an excellent post-lunch or post-dinner stroll. Pajo's Fish & Chips and Timothy's Frozen Yogourt also have kiosks on site where you can enjoy take-out right there at the park.
Garry Point has only been officially a park since the late 1980's. Previous to that, the land was used as a sand pit for construction sites, and likely a First Nations settlement before Steveston's resettlement.
The park is predominantly flat grassy fields with patches of lupines, strawflowers, and sweetpeas. There are hedges of blackberries and crabapple trees along its northern side.
At the southern entrance of the park is a traditional Japanese garden.
There is a gravel trail flanked with memorial benches that follows the perimeter of the park. The park is also home to the Fisherman's Memorial sculpture. Scotch Pond is tiny sheltered inlet, is a historical moorage site with smaller fishing vessels.
The Richmond Dyke Trail system begins at Garry Point Park, giving it excellent trails for jogging, walking, or cycling. There are BBQ pits and picnic tables along the beach, providing a great location for a summer picnic. Because of the open space at Garry Point, many people go there to fly kites! Also, due to the high amount of boat traffic on the Fraser River, Garry Point makes an excellent location for boat watching as they travel back and forth along the Fraser.
At sunset, the sunsets at Garry Point are absolutely stunning. At night, it's an excellent spot for watching stars.
The Murakami Visitor's Centre is located on the Britannia Shipyards grounds. It's here where you'll find the Murakami House, Boat Works, and Garden.
It's this location where Asayo Murakami, a Japanese picture-bride, raised her family and grew her famous garden as depicted in the award-winning 2001Canadian documentary, "Obaachan's Garden".
According to the City of Richmond's website, the Murakami house was built in 1885 on piles over the marsh. The Murakami family, ten children mom and dad, lived in the residence from the early 1930's to 1942. The refurbished home and boat works opened in May 1998 as the official Murakami Visitor Centre. The Murakami family has provided valuable information and artefacts enabling us to share their story.
It was literally only a step from home to boat works. The family built 1 - 2 gillnet fishing boats per winter and fished in the summer. At launching time, temporary tracks were placed over the boardwalk to roll the boat out. A hand-operated capstan moved the cradle on these tracks that are called "the ways".
This parade marks the beginning of the Steveston Salmon Festival.
Apparently this parade is the largest and longest-running event of its kind in the entire province.
The parade route sets out from the Garry Point Park parking lot south of Chatham Street at 10 a.m., move east to Third Avenue, south to Moncton Street, and finally back east to Railway Avenue.
Every spring, Steveston becomes a stop along the way for the annual sea lion migration from California to Alaska. Hundreds of these huge aquatic mammals arrive at the mouth of the Fraser River where they like to rest on the rock jetty. Occasionally a few sea lions swim up the Fraser and can be seen in the Steveston harbour, swimming between the fishing boats and the wharves.
However, for best sea lion viewing, you would have to take a boat out of the Fraser River, along the rock jetty. This rock jetty spans over 7km west of Steveston's Garry Point Park.
If you are planning to go on a whale watch trip in May, then you'll be at the tail end of the sea lion migration. However, if you can hire someone to take you out in their boat in late April or early May, this would be idea.
The Salmon Bake is a crucial part to the Steveston Salmon Festival's annual tradition. In fact, it's the salmon bake that has been witht the Salmon Festival since the beginning.
Every July 1st after the parade, people wander over to the Steveston Community Centre grounds and line up for a $13 plate of BBQ salmon.
Hundreds of pieces of local wild salmon are placed upon gigantic metal racks which are cooked over an open fire pit.
Back in the 1950's (according to my Mom), they would have First Nations peoples cooking the salmon, however, nowadays, Salmon Festival volunteers are the ones turning the racks.
While the Salmon Festival provides a large variety of ethnic foods throughout the day, the salmon bake is the heart and soul of the annual tradition.