The following photo essay was contributed by local Vancouver photographer Clayton Perry, exclusively for Inside Vancouver. In this photo essay Clayton takes a look at Steveston Village.
Steveston British Columbia is a small fishing village approximately 25 kilometers away from Vancouver at the south arm of the Fraser River. Ok, so I may be a bit biased here but I love Steveston….I always have since I started coming here as a young child. I remember jumping around in the massive sand dunes where Garry Point Park now stands…and seeing all the old decaying buildings of Steveston Fishing Village…slowly being dismantled and the landscapes changing forever with progress.
Steveston is named after Manoah Steves who came here with his family in 1878 from Moncton, New Brunswick. He and his family were a major part of developing Steveston into a town site in 1889. The Steves family still runs a small beef producing business along the dyke in Richmond and they produce Belted Galloways or “Oreo” cows.
Being situated right at the mouth of the Fraser River, salmon canning began at the site around 1881 and continued all the way up to the early 90’s with as many as 45 canneries along the river at one point.
Although it has lost some of it’s charm over the years and most of the old fishing village canneries and buildings are now long gone, Steveston has still managed to maintain most of its small fishing village feel. I know this because I live here and have been living close to the village for the last twelve years. I believe this is one of the most photogenic areas in the lower mainland. It has so much culture and there is nothing quite like it in the middle of summer with the fishing boats at the dock, selling their fresh salmon, crabs and mussels to name a few pacific delicacies and not to mention boasting some of the most spectacular sunsets in the world.
The architecture is some of the oldest in the lower mainland with the Gulf of Georgia Cannery (1894), the Steveston Hotel, originally the Sockeye Hotel (1894), Britannia Heritage Shipyard (1885), The Steveston Museum, originally the Northern Bank (1890’s) to name a few.
With new condo developments and shops coming into Steveston, the history still prevails, even if you have to search a little harder to find it.
Britannia Heritage Shipyard
Built in 1885, this site originally operated as a cannery and was converted in 1917 to a shipyard to support the boating and fishing industry along the Fraser River and continued until 1980. It has since been updated with fully restored Japanese stilt houses, the main ship building, Murakami House, boardwalks and other period buildings as well as a fully operational shipyard restoring old period boats.
A Finnish man named Mike Jacobson bought this land in the early 1890’s and moved his family and relatives to the area. Hence the area was nicknamed “Finn Slough”. They chose to settle in this area for the protection from the river and the easy access to their boats and houses…most of which they were able to float right up to. The site still remains a collection of eclectic houses occupied by artistic types.
Gulf of Georgia Cannery
Built in 1894, this location was once the leading producer of canned salmon in Canada. From sea to can in 3 hours…that’s how fresh the product that came out of this cannery was. The site consists of the main building, icehouse as well as several other warehouse type buildings that still operate today. The site is run by the Steveston Harbour Authority and is a National Historic Site.
In the early 90’s, this location was starting to shut down as a cannery and receiving basic conservation treatments to maintain this site as a national historic site. A great model of a 1930’s era canned salmon production line as well as many other artifacts can be found inside.
Paramount, like The Gulf of Georgia Cannery is run by the Steveston Harbour Authority. This site offers a number of on-site services including the Canadian Fishing Company, Mastercraft Boat Coverings, Steveston Seafood Auctions and the Fisherman’s Boot Café just to mention a few.
Charles London and his brothers came out west from Ontario in 1877 and purchased this land. In 1888 Charles London built the farmhouse that still stands here today. On this site once sat a thriving farm, general store, post office and wharf. The Londons lived and operated on the farm until the late 40’s after that it was rented out to several families over the years until the city of Richmond purchased the house and land in 1978. Since then it has been fully restored to its original early 1900’s era.
Moncton Street in Steveston still maintains most of it’s early charisma with the old Steveston Drugs block and the numerous period buildings, most dating back to the early 1900’s.
Dining in Steveston
Steveston is famous for its Fish & Chips…there are several fantastic restaurants and cafes in the area. All serving great fresh food from the region…and of course, lots of seafood.
Steveston has been used in numerous Television and Movie Productions including Supernatural, Charlie St. Cloud with Zac Efron, Lost Boys – The Tribe, The X – Files, Scary Movie, Shooter with Mark Wahlberg and a long list of others including ABC’s new television series Once Upon A Time coming this fall and being filmed right now in Steveston or “Storybrooke” as it is better known in this fairytale from the producers of Lost.
Sunsets and Garry Point Park
Garry Point Park offers some fantastic views of the Fraser River, Salish Sea, Gulf Islands and the North Shore Mountains. It also offers a great vantage point for spectacular sunsets, no matter what time of year.
Boats…Tons of Boats
Steveston still has the largest fleet of fishing boats on the west coast.
Steveston was home port in 2002 and once again in 2011 for a display of some of the most amazing tall ships on the Pacific.
So next time you are out in Richmond, don’t forget to come out and re-discover The Steveston Fishing Village.