The town of Richmond lies on a group of islands in the Fraser River, between the North Arm and the South Arm. The largest island is Lulu Island which contains the main part of Richmond. Other islands that are part of Richmond are Sea, Mitchell. Twigg and Deadman. To get anywhere from Richmond you must take a bridge, except of course, to the south where you take the George Massey Tunnel on Highway 99.
Richmond was named by an Australian farming family, the McRoberts, who settled here in the 1860s. They named the area for a place they thought it reminded them of, back in Australia. Richmond is well-known for its farms and fishing. Berry-picking seasons are big around here. Steveston, at the mouth of the mighty Fraser River, is home to Canada’s largest commercial fishing fleet, along with the second largest Buddhist temple in North America, a quaint museum, art galleries, shops and restaurants. No. 3 Road has over 800 stores along a 1.5 km stretch.
Located on Sea Island since 1931, Vancouver International Airport, Canada’s second busiest airport with ten million annual passengers, just behind Toronto’s Pearson Airport. This airport is Canada’s connection with the Pacific Rim, with flights daily to most Asian countries, as well as most major airports around North and South America. On the north side of Sea Island is an Indian reservation and the Iona Beach Regional Park, which extends on a long spit from the island’s northwest end. This recently created 60 hectare park has extensive tidal flats and attracts large flocks of migratory birds.
Richmond Trails provide 44 km of running paths along the dykes that protect
this flat, low-lying area from the sea. Boat tours operate along the North and South arms of the Fraser River. Richmond has more than 100 historical sights and attractions including a Buddhist Temple and Garden and Fantasyland, a theme park. Along No. 3 Road you can experience shopping at six major shopping centres, including some that specialize in upscale Asian goods.
The First Nations were early users of the island, to fish and gather roots and berries from their summer camps. Permanent settlements may have existed near Steveston. Richmond was first settled by Europeans in 1860s. In 1877, Menoah Steves establish a farm at the present site of Steveston on Lulu Island. William H. Steves laid out a portion of his ranch in town lots in 1889, starting the growth of the community.
Fishing fleets plied the waters in the 1880s, and processed their catches in the local canneries. By 1900, Steveston was the busiest fishing port in the world with 14 fish canneries packing more than 195,000 cases of salmon each year. Every summer, the silver harvest of salmon attracted thousands of Native, Chinese and Japanese laborers for seasonal work. Over 10,000 people crowded the boomtown’s boardwalks between saloons.
This community takes its name from Hugh McRoberts, who in 1861, established Richmond Farm. The flat land and fertile soil of Lulu and Sea island made them ideal for farming. But dyking and drainage ditches were needed to made the land suitable for the early crops of berries, grain and vegetables. Dairy farming was also common. Richmond was incorporated in 1879 as a municipality and later as a city in 1990.
Richmond continues to diversify from its traditional base of farming and fishing. Fresh fish and produce can still be found at water front and farm markets. Amidst the recent changes, the community has continued to place a priority on protecting farmland, preserving its heritage and protecting the natural environment.
Today, Steveston is not only the oldest surviving community in the Lower Mainland, but home to almost 1,000 commercial fishing vessels in the largest commercial fishing harbour in Canada. Visitors delight in buying the tuna, cod, salmon, sole, halibut, ship, prawns and crab directly from the boats at the public fish dock.
Annual festivals & events
South Arm Family Festival (June), Annual Workboat Parade (July), Steveston Salmon Festival (July 1), Multi-Fest (2nd Saturday in August), Fraser River Carol Ship (before Christmas).
Here are the most popular attractions in Richmond (see map below):
Britannia Heritage Shipyard Museum
5180 Westwater Drive, Steveston
(at the foot of Railway Avenue)
Displays about the Steveston ship building and fishing. Built in 1889, it is the oldest cannery building on the Fraser River. The building was converted to a ship yard in 1919 as a repair facility for the ABC Packing Company. The Britannia Shipyard Museum features displays about Steveston ship building and fishing. Often, wooden boats are being repaired using traditional boat building skills. This National Historic Site offers guiding tours, brochures, interpretive signage and seasonal exhibits, and is wheelchair accessible. May through September: Tuesday-Sunday 10 am-6 pm; Mondays Closed October 1-April 30 Saturday 10 am-4 pm Sunday 12 pm-4 pm
Chinese Buddhist Temple
9160 Steveston Highway
A recent wave of Chinese immigrants have settled in Richmond. Their most impressive artistic symbol is the Buddhist Temple on Steveston Highway, using very traditional Chinese architecture and construction methods. Includes a bonsai garden. Please remove your shoes when entering the temple.
Fantasy Garden World
100800 #5 Road
This attraction is a theme park modeled after Coeverden, Holland (which was home to Captain George Vancouver’s ancestors). It includes flower gardens, rides, a miniature train, an Olde World Village, a windmill, a carillon bell tower, and a castle. At Christmas, there is a spectacular light show with over 75,000 lights. You can also enjoy Sunday brunch in the Glass Conservatory.
London Heritage Farm
6511 Dyke Road, Steveston, BC V7E 3R3
Dating from the 1890s, this restored and furnished farm house offers a tea room and tours as well as Herb and Flower Gardens.
Richmond Archives, Library & Cultural Centre
Minoru Park, 7680 Minoru Gate
It is the official repository of all inactive public records of permanent value to the City of Richmond including books, documents, maps, drawings, photographs and letters.
Richmond Nature Park and Nature House
11851 Westminster Highway
The 80 hectare park includes a native bog, a pond, and has several hiking trails up to 1.6 km (1 mile) long. The Nature House has displays of birds, snakes, frogs, salamanders and a working beehive.
Named for the big sand dune that runs next to the Steveston waterfront. Log carriers being pulled by a tug over on the other side of the build-up sand bar. Fishboats and skiffs can also be seen here.
3811 Moncton Street, Dyke Road and 12138-Fourth Avenue
(604) 271-6868 or 277-6812
Canada’s largest commercial fishing harbor, Steveston Village, is a great place to take the entire family. Located in Richmond, the village is home to many retail shops, restaurants and other attractions. Located in the village at 12138-4th Street is the Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site. This point has been a landmark of the Fraser River for more than 100 years. Take a guided tour through the cannery to see the machinery used in the industry.
The Steveston Museum, at 3811 Moncton Street, holds the history of the area. Housed in a building that was erected in 1894, the museum features period rooms and photo-displays which capture the feel of the building in the early 1900s. The canneries were used as late as 1979 for herring production. If you need to mail a letter to a long-lost friend, a post office is located in the museum.
The Britannia Heritage Shipyard, at the foot of the railway, features one of the oldest remaining structures on the Fraser River, including a cannery, Japanese boatworks, bunkhouse, and boardwalks. This six hectare (eight-acre) park features a picnic site you can use while you watch boats being built.
Here are the most popular parks in Richmond from West to East (see other area parks):
Iona Beach Regional Park
(Fergusson Road, Sea Island)
This 30 hectare park extends northwest on Ioona Island in the North Arm of the Fraser River, on a causeway from Sea Island which is home to Vancouver International Airport. The park’s extensive shoreline, tidal flats and marshes contribute to Iona being one of the best bird-watching spots on the Fraser delta. This park lies on the Pacific Flyway and you can see over 250 species over the course of a year. The park features an attractive public promenade and cycle path extends 5 km into the Strait of Georgia, built on top of sewer outlet pipes for Greater Vancouver.
Garry Point Park
(7th Ave and Steveston)
Located near Historic Steveston, this park provides panoramic views of the Steveston harbour, the Fraser river, and the Gulf Islands. The area was known to the Salish as “Kway-Ah-Wh” or place of the churning waters. The park has trails for walking and biking and open fields for picnics and kit flying. The shores are lttered with driftwood that can be either collected or used as firewood for a barbeque.
(between Minoru Road, across from Richmond Centre Mall)
The 65 acre Minoru Park is in the heart of Richmond. The park include swimming pools, tennis courts, playing fields, plus a sports arenas and a fitness complex. The park also provides the beautiful setting for the Peirrefond Gardens, the Gateway Theatre and the historic Minoru Chapel
Richmond Nature Park and Nature House
(11851 Westminster Highway)
The 80 hectare (200 acre) park includes a native bog, a pond, and has several hiking trails up to 1.6 km (1 mile) long. The Nature House has displays of birds, snakes, frogs, salamanders and a working beehive.
Named for the big sand dune that runs next to the Steveston waterfront. Log carriers being pulled by a tug over on the other side of the build-up sand bar. Fishing boats and skiffs can also be seen here.