Nestling in the southwest corner of Richmond, where the south arm of the Fraser River flows into the Strait of Georgia, is the historic village of Steveston.
It provides a safe haven for fishermen and sailors, as it has done since 1827, and shelter for today’s discerning homebuyer, who demands more from his home and community than mere concrete, wood, and street-lights.
This sometimes sleepy, sometimes dynamic little community, perched on the banks of the busy Fraser River, looks westward to the Gulf of Georgia Cannery, now a national heritage site with a museum and gift shop, and beyond to the rugged, natural vegetation of Garry Point Park. Views over the river to the south include the mountainous Olympic Peninsula and snowcapped Mount Baker, and to the east lies the site of the old B.C. Packers’ Plant, now resurrected as residential housing and a seaside park
Cozy, Character Dwellings
Single-family modern homes and cozy, character dwellings are found in the Village and its surrounding area, together known as Steveston. Although part of the City of Richmond, Steveston possesses its own unique charm. The Village of Steveston is the beating heart of this little corner of Richmond, which at times seems caught in a time warp, one foot in the new millennium, and the other in its colourful and sometimes bawdy history.
In the late nineteenth century Steveston Village, essentially an agricultural center, was transformed each fishing season into a typical west coast boomtown. Its population swelled from approximately four hundred persons to at least six thousand as a result of the annual influx of itinerant, cannery workers.
The ethnic mix of these workers, who were largely single males, included First Nations, Japanese, Finnish, Yugoslavian and other peoples, but the most numerous were the Chinese. The canneries provided rudimentary living accommodations on site, and one such two storey building, which once sat on piles driven into a riverbed, may be found next to the Britannia Heritage Shipyards. Entrepreneurs were quick to provide for the other various needs and wants of the preponderantly male population, and consequently at the turn of the twentieth century Steveston boasted thirteen canneries, five legal liquor outlets, a number of gambling and sporting houses, an opium trade, and a thriving bootlegging industry.
Although the days of the cannery shanties and boomtown characters such as Madame Lulu, who gave her tainted name to Lulu Island, have long since passed their aura seems to linger yet along the riverbanks of the Fraser River.
The Steveston of Today
The Steveston of today has no operating canneries, and the heady, cotton candy scent of berry fields no longer sweeps across Richmond, having been reduced to gentle hints of perfume which occasionally nip at our senses and tug at the hearts of long time residents. What does remain is a pleasing blend of country and urban, and old and new, which evokes fond memories of slower, simpler times while providing a modern, outdoor oriented lifestyle, coupled with easy access to Asian flavoured central Richmond and that gem of the Pacific, the City of Vancouver.
Radiating outward from Steveston are miles of recreational paths and streets winding their scenic way through and around Richmond. After browsing in Steveston’s quaint shops, or lunching on fresh fish and chips, you may wish to cycle or hike the 5.8 Km. Steveston Greenway, which stretches east from Garry Point Park, through Steveston Village and Imperial Landing Seafront Park; past the Murakami Visitor’s Centre, Britannia Heritage Shipyards, London Farm, (tours are a must), the picturesque, little bayou dwellings of Finn Slough, and then north through wooded paths to the Richmond Nature Park. By then you may be ready to sample one of the excellent malls located in central Richmond, mere minutes away by bicycle from the Nature Park.
Or choose the Dyke Trail north of the Village, positioned on the Pacific Flyway, a major bird migration corridor, and view the coastal Sturgeon bank marshes and the Terra Nova Natural Area. As you pass through these nesting and staging areas spot Great Blue Herons, Bald Eagles, Blackbirds and many sea birds. In the spring and autumn you may see migrating hordes of Snow Geese and Trumpeter Swans, and hear their shrieking clatter as they make travel plans for their various journeys. As the trail turns eastward along the middle arm of the Fraser, where seaplanes and seals share the current, it travels through one of the region’s hot spots for wintering waterfowl. Then north over the Number Two Road Bridge, under the flight path at Vancouver International Airport, and on to Iona Beach Regional Park, another birders’ paradise.
Hikers and cyclists can travel non-stop for hours, enjoying spectacular visuals of the Gulf Islands and the North Shore mountains; or take it slowly and enjoy the many park benches and picnic tables along the way. Some may take time out to appreciate the raw power and elegant grace of jumbo jets as they take off and land a few hundred yards from their picnic blankets.
On returning to Garry Point Park take time to review the endless parade of fish boats, massive freighters, pleasure crafts, and other working boats as they ply the waters of the Fraser River. See people flying kites and windsurfing. Share a park bench with an old salt, and your lunch with the local seagulls and pigeons. Or just crash on the beach, awaking in time for a picnic or wiener roast with the kids and the family dog.
For the seafood gourmet there is the Steveston Village Dock, bristling with the masts of sailboats and the superstructures of fish boats. In summer it attracts hordes of seafood lovers who converge on the Public Market Float for fresh salmon, halibut, sole, and lobster, or dine at one of Steveston’s many fine restaurants. Those seeking solitude, shade, or a brief, guided tour of the 1913 Interurban Streetcar will discover Steveston Park at No.1 Road and Moncton, just a short walk from the Dock. There you will find the recently renovated children’s playground, Steveston Community Centre, a swimming pool, indoor and outdoor tennis courts, gymnasium, lacrosse box, baseball diamond, the renowned Steveston Martial Arts Centre, and the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre.
There are many more reasons for choosing the Steveston area as your home, including proximity to elementary and high schools, a competent, progressive city council, excellent hospital and medical facilities, a wide choice of condominiums, townhouses, and homes, and of course, affordability. To lead you through Richmond and Steveston’s maze of lots, homes, mortgage lenders and builders you need someone who “has been there and done that.”
The RE/MAX Westcoast Sales Team at StevestonRealEstate.com is eminently qualified to assist you with all of your real estate needs.