Steveston, a historic village on the southwest tip of Lulu Island in Richmond, is named for Manoah Steves. In 1878, Manoah and Martha Steves and their six children were the first non-Aboriginal family to settle in the area after purchasing 121 hectares of land north of Garry Point. In 1880, Manoah’s son William purchased land to develop a townsite known as Steves. By 1890, Steves was known as Steveston and had a church, hotels, retail stores, an opera house, a wharf, and Lulu Island’s first hospital and newspaper.
Today, Steveston maintains the character of a quaint, historic fishing village, with more than 600 fishing boats. This popular tourist destination maintains a laid-back village atmosphere, and is home to two National Historic Sites of Canada, the Gulf of Georgia Cannery, once nicknamed the “Monster Cannery,” and Britannia Heritage Shipyard Park. The Gulf of Georgia Cannery, built in 1894 and at one time the largest plant in British Columbia, was recently given an award for Canada’s best historic site.
Steveston is a popular location for many fundraising and special events. The village boasts more than 350 businesses and services to accommodate its growing population. Steveston has become a popular place to visit and live. On sunny days, thousands of visitors flock to Steveston’s waterfront boardwalks to enjoy the scenery, people and food.
The first cannery opened on the waterfront in 1882, thus establishing the prosperous commercial fishery that would drive the local economy for the next century. By 1890, more than twenty canneries were established along its waterfront and record catches of salmon, herring and other species helped make Steveston a boomtown with a seasonal population of 10,000.
Steveston canneries shipped a record setting 16-million pounds of salmon overseas in 1901. That abundant bounty supported local bawdy houses, gambling and opium dens, and saloons. By 1912, cannery fish processing lines were automated, reducing the town’s population by half. After several bad fishing seasons and disastrous fires, several canneries merged or closed in 1918.
Each summer large numbers of Chinese, European, First Nations, and Japanese fishermen and cannery workers arrived to work at the canneries. A significant boatbuilding and shipbuilding industry developed, and ships arrived from destinations around the world to take on cargoes of canned salmon. Eventually, the canning activity declined and finally ceased in the 1990s.
In 1979, the Steveston Museum opened in a 1905 building that had been Steveston’s first bank, and then a doctor’s office. The Steveston Historical Society operates the museum and post office, which are often featured in Hollywood movies. Garry Point Park opened on June 3, 1989 on the southwestern-most corner of Lulu Island. The park is a popular spot for kite flying, strolling and watching ships. The Steveston Fishermen’s Memorial is located in the park.
Steveston Salmon Festival – July 1st
Since 1945 the village has hosted the annual Steveston Salmon Festival on July 1 to celebrate Canada’s birthday and the rich heritage of the community. More than 70,000 people come from Richmond and Metro Vancouver to spend Canada Day in Steveston. The festival begins at 10:00 AM with a parade of more than 100 entries including celebrities, community groups, floats, marching bands, politicians, vintage vehicles and much more. The main attraction is the salmon barbecue where more than 1,200 pounds of wild salmon filets are grilled over open fire pits.
Steveston Dragon Boat Festival
The Steveston Dragon Boat Festival is an annual full day event held in late August at the Britannia Heritage Shipyard in Steveston Village. This popular festival has arts and crafts activities for children, food and vendor booths, and live entertainment. More than 60 teams come from across British Columbia and Washington State to participate in this exciting event. Each team participates in a 1200-metre race and a 3500-metre race. The event is suitable for all team competition levels, from novice to competitive. There is also a category for individuals who wish to join a team for the day.
Did you know?
Steveston is often used as a location for films and television shows. It was used as a stand-in for Marblehead, Massachusetts in the 2010 film “Charlie St Cloud.” Steveston was used as fictional Steveston, Maine for the television movie “A Cooler Climate.” It has been used as a location for The X-Files, in the episodes “Gender Bender” as Steveston, Massachusetts, and later in “Miracle Man.” It was also featured in the Stargate SG-1 episode “Nightwalkers” as Steveston, Oregon. Most of the outdoor scenes in the television series “Once Upon A Time” are also shot in Steveston.