Steveston, British Columbia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Steveston, British Columbia is located in Greater Vancouver Regional District
Steveston, British Columbia
Location of Steveston in Greater Vancouver

Steveston, founded in the 1880s,[1] is a neighbourhood of Richmond in Metro Vancouver. On the southwest tip of Lulu Island, the village is a historic port and salmon canning centre at the mouth of the South Arm of the Fraser River. The early 1900s style architecture attracts both the film and tourism industries.


Street scene, Steveston, 1900
Steveston Museum, 2016
Fishing boats, Steveston marina, 2006


The village is named for Manoah Steves, who arrived with his family around 1877–1878 from Moncton, New Brunswick, via Chatham, Ontario. Born Manoah Steeves, a second cousin of William Steeves, he dropped the second 'e' en route. The family was the first white settlers in the area.[2] The townsite began in 1880 as a crown grant to William Herbert Steves, his son. During the following decade, over 100 individuals purchased land in this original section comprising a grid pattern of 237 small lots. Becoming Steveston in 1889, this area south of today's Steveston Highway and west of No. 1 Rd. was the first subdivision in Richmond. In 1887, London's Landing, at the foot of No. 2 Rd., was also laid out on a grid.[3] New Westminster-Vancouver Island ferries called at Steveston from the early 1860s onward, becoming a Steveston-Vancouver Island run in the 1920s.[4]

Early Commerce[edit]

Salmon canning began on the river in 1871[5] with the first major cannery being the Phoenix, established in 1882 by Marshall English and Samuel Martin.[2] By the 1890s there were 45 canneries, about half of which were at Steveston, giving rise to the alternate name of Salmonopolis.[6] Each summer large numbers of Japanese, Chinese, First Nations, and European fishermen and cannery workers descended upon the village, joining a growing year-round settlement. At the port, sailing ships loaded canned salmon for export. The fishery also supported a significant boatbuilding industry.

Steveston Fire Department existed 1912–1917. Otherwise, the closest firehall was Marpole, half an hour to an hour away, depending upon road conditions. A 1908 fire in the eastern section caused over $35,000 in damages. The 1918 inferno, totalling over $0.5m in damages, destroyed three canneries (the Star, Steveston, and Lighthouse), three hotels (Star, Richmond, and London), and most of Brick Block.[7] The Marpole firetruck broke down on the way.[8] This devastating fire started in a dining/recreational area of the Star Cannery. In 1897, this same cannery suffered the first significant fire in Steveston, requiring extensive rebuilding.[9]

Steveston's aspirations to rival Vancouver as a port ended during World War I. Salmon runs peaking in 1913 was one of many factors.[10] Canning activity slowly declined and finally ceased in the 1990s. The Gulf of Georgia Cannery, built in 1894 was at one time the largest plant in British Columbia. The cannery (1994) and Britannia Shipyard (1991)[11] received National Historic Site designations.

The BCER Vancouver-Marpole-Steveston interurban tram operated 1905–1958.[12] A new building houses the static tram car 1220.[13]

Once a pioneer bank building, the Steveston Museum & Visitor Centre also operates a post office.

Steveston's Japanese Canadians[edit]

Japanese Canadians formed a large part of Steveston's original population. Tomekichi Homma, who settled in Steveston in 1883, was one of the important early members of the Japanese community in the village. Homma Elementary School in Steveston was named in his honour. Around 1897, the Fraser River Japanese Fishermen’s Association Hospital in Steveston was established since the local hospital refused to admit and treat Japanese immigrant patients.[14]

The Japanese Canadian internment during World War II[15] was a serious blow to the community, although some of the internees returned when they were allowed and a sizable Japanese Canadian community still exists. For example, a Japanese judo and martial arts centre was developed in Steveston after the internment.

During World War II, the Department of Transport facility monitored German and Japanese (Kana code) submarine traffic. The facility closed in 1945.

In 1954, BC Packers manager Ken Fraser donated a lot to Steveston's Japanese Canadian fishermen for the purposes of building a joint community centre (which eventually became the Steveston Community Centre); the terms of the agreement also stated that the Japanese Fishermen Benevolent Association be allowed to have a judo room at the centre.[2]

In 1969, community discussion led to the development of a Japanese-style martial arts building for Steveston. The martial arts centre, now a Steveston landmark, is currently located adjacent to the Steveston Community Centre.

Post-war development[edit]

Along with Richmond, Steveston transformed from farmland to residential housing. Since the 1970s, the community, which remains an active fishing port, has enhanced its heritage character and waterfront to attract business and tourism.

Garry Point, at the southwest tip of the community (and Lulu Island), was named in 1827 to honour Nicholas Garry, former Deputy Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company. The company ships used this promontory as a navigational aid to safely enter the Fraser River.[2] From the 1960s to the early 1990s, it was a federally-owned dump site for sand dredged from the river. Levelling the dunes created Steveston's largest park,[16][17] opened in 1989.[18] The site of the Steveston Fisherman's Memorial,[19] the park was the major host location for the Vancouver-area festivities of the 2002 Tall Ships Challenge. Approximately 400,000 people came to see a fleet of restored sailing ships docked along the river. The financial loss incurred by the event prompted strong criticism from Richmond City Council. A maritime festival continues to be held annually.[20]

In 1990, the Steveston Harbour Authority was established. In 1998, the 44-acre BC Packers cannery site was rezoned residential in exchange for keeping the waterfront portion publicly accessible.[18] Years of controversy followed regarding the zoning of the foreshore buildings.[21]

Steveston Village from Fisherman's Wharf docks
Steveston Harbour eastward from Fisherman's Wharf, 2007

Filming location[edit]

A film crew and van outside of a building with a sign that reads "Mr. Gold Pawnbroker & Antiquities Dealer"
3480 Moncton St. in Steveston as Mr. Gold Pawnbroker during filming of Once Upon a Time in April 2015

Steveston is a popular location for filming both movies and television shows, which has included the following:[22]

Period Production Detail
1985–1992 MacGyver 51. Jack in the Box (1987), 65. The Secret of Parker House (1988)
1990 Burning Bridges
1992–1997 Highlander: The Series as Steveston, Washington
1993–2018 The X-Files Beyond the Sea (1994), Gender Bender (1994) as Steveston, Massachusetts, Miracle Man (1994),
The Post-Modern Prometheus (1997)
1995–2000 Sliders 13. Gillian of the Spirits (1996)
1995–2002 The Outer Limits 54. The Awakening (1997), 125. The Grid (2000)
1997–2007 Stargate SG-1 Nightwalkers (2002) as Steveston, Oregon.
1999 A Cooler Climate as fictional Steveston, Maine
2000 Scary Movie
2002 Taken
2002 Glory Days
2003 Dreamcatcher
2004 Kingdom Hospital
2004–2007 The 4400 3. Becoming (2004)
2005–2020 Supernatural
2005 Killer Instinct
2006 Three Moons Over Milford
2008 Lost Boys: The Tribe
2007 Traveler
2009 The Uninvited
2010 The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
2010 Charlie St. Cloud as Marblehead, Massachusetts
2011–2012 The Secret Circle
2011–2018 Once Upon A Time as the fictional town of Storybrooke, Maine, the show's main setting.
2012 This Means War
2012 Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days
2013-2014 Once Upon a Time in Wonderland 1. Down the Rabbit Hole, 11. Heart of the Matter
2013–2017 Bates Motel
2014 Godzilla
2014 Collar
2016– Chesapeake Shores
2017 Power Rangers
2018 Midnight Sun (2018 film)
2018 Overboard
2018 The Crossing 3. Pax Americana
2018– Siren 1. Pilot - The Mermaid Discovery (2018)
2018 24. Hope at Christmas Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
2019– Project Blue Book
2019– The Twilight Zone 7. Not All Men (2019)
2020 Midnight Mass [23]


Even with extensive redevelopment, Steveston maintains the character of a quaint, historic fishing village, with over 600 fishing boats––Canada's largest fleet[24] calling Steveston Harbour home. It boasts over 350 businesses and services to accommodate a growing population. On sunny days, locals and visitors crowd the waterfront boardwalks to enjoy the scenery, people and food.

Steveston is also known as "The Gateway to the Orca," being a base for the whale watching industry. Shuttled by boat into the Gulf of Georgia, passengers observe orca (killer whales), seals, eagles and more.

Steveston Salmon Festival[edit]

On Canada Day, the community hosts the Steveston Salmon Festival, which has been held annually since 1946.[18] This event includes a parade, and a huge barbecued salmon sale beside the Steveston Community Centre. Municipal, provincial and federal politicians often attend, usually as part of the parade and/or to hand out Canadian flags.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Yesaki, Mitsuo; Steves, Harold; Steves, Kathy (1998). Steveston Cannery Row: An Illustrated History. Richmond, BC: LuLu Island Printing. p. 13. ISBN 978-0968380710.
  2. ^ a b c d Hopkins, Michelle (6 Oct 2006). "A really big fish story". Richmond News. Archived from the original on 2007-05-08.
  3. ^ Cook, Denise (2002). Richmond's Suburban History (PDF). (Report). Richmond Heritage Commission. pp. 10–11. ISBN 9780889257764.
  4. ^ "Steveston recollections".
  5. ^ Reid 2013, p. 2.
  6. ^ Herring, Frances E. (1903). Among the people of British Columbia. T. Fisher Unwin. p. 282 – via University of Calgary.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. ^ Reid 2013, p. 3.
  8. ^ Reid 2013, p. 4.
  9. ^ Reid 2013, p. 6.
  10. ^ Reid 2013, p. 8.
  11. ^ "Canada's Historic Places, Steveston".
  12. ^ "Canadian Rail, Jul-Aug 1990" (PDF). Canadian Railroad Historical Assn. pp. 120 & 123.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. ^ "Steveston tram". www.
  14. ^ Tanaka, Yusuke (October 23, 2020). "Waves of Pandemics and the Prewar Japanese Canadian Community". Discover Nikkei.
  15. ^ Reid 2013, pp. 6–7.
  16. ^ Wood, Graeme (4 Jan 2018). "Throwback Thursday: Garry Point Park tells different tales". Richmond News.
  17. ^ Bollwitt, Rebecca (28 February 2012). "Metro Vancouver Parks: Garry Point Park".
  18. ^ a b c Wood, Graeme (30 Jun 2017). "Feature: 150 seminal monuments in Richmond". Richmond News.
  19. ^ "Garry Point Park".
  20. ^ "Richmond News, 24 Jul 2019".
  21. ^ Wood, Graeme (23 May 2018). "City and Onni shake hands on rezoning Steveston waterfront". Richmond News.
  22. ^ "Steveston filming location".
  23. ^ Midnight Mass Filming Locations 2021 – Garry Point Park, British Columbia Stands In for Crockett Island!
  24. ^ "Steveston Harbour Authority".


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 49°07′39″N 123°10′53″W / 49.12750°N 123.18139°W / 49.12750; -123.18139 (Steveston)