Richmond was incorporated as a municipality in1879 and designated as a City in 1990.
Richmond's islands were built up and shaped by the Fraser River and it is the river that has shaped the city's growth. The fishery and the rich delta soil provided by the river has been the basis for the economy and industrial development. Richmond's history is rooted in fishing, agriculture, shipping, aviation, and later in manufacturing, service and technological industries.
First Nations people were the first to come to the islands to fish and collect berries. The first European settlers to this area were farmers in the 1860s. The pattern of early settlement was oriented to the river, since it was easier to get around by boat than to cross the low-lying, often boggy interior areas of Lulu Island. The Fraser River also provided transport access to Richmond from the nearby City of New Westminster.
The abundance of the fishery attracted many people. From the early 1880s, Richmond's fishing fleets brought their catches home to be processed in one of the numerous canneries that sprang up all along the river. This industry did more than bring fish to market: related industries such as boat-building also thrived.
The vitality of the fishing industry attracted Japanese fishermen to Richmond, adding not just to the industry but to the richness of the community. The growing cannery and boat building industries brought more migrant workers to the area including First Nations people and Chinese contract workers who originally came to British Columbia to build the railway. Steveston, in particular, became the centre of the fishing industry, gaining international fame for the quality and bounty of its canned salmon. Despite the pressures of changing times, Steveston has survived as a unique, diverse community that maintains strong ties with the sea.
Richmond was, and is, the centre of aviation in British Columbia. The first flight in B.C. was made on March 25, 1910, from Minoru Racetrack. The first airport for Vancouver was on Richmond's Lulu Island and wasn't much more than a grass field and some small service buildings. The airport remained there until the move to Richmond's Sea Island in 1931.
Vancouver International Airport has become an important gateway between Canada and other Pacific Rim countries.
Richmond is centrally located in Metro Vancouver and situated where the Pacific Ocean meets the Fraser River. The area is easily accessible by air, public transit, ferry or car. By car take Highway 1, Highway 10 or Highway 99 (I-95 in the Unites States); by air Vancouver International Airport brings you into Richmond where you can access public transport to take you to your destination.
Take a glimpse at the rich history of the west coast fishing industry. Stroll through the village shops, and visit the many historic sites in the area. Visit two official national historic sites, the Britannia Heritage Shipyard Park (site of the award-winning Murakami House), and the Gulf of Georgia Cannery. Stop into to see the little Steveston Museum, and be sure to see Historic Tram #1220. Of course a trip to Steveston won't be complete without fish and chips on the wharf and a walk through Garry Point Park.
Situated atop wooden pilings over the Fraser River, the Gulf of Georgia Cannery is one of the few remaining 19th century salmon canneries on the BC coast. It commemorates the development of Canada's West Coast fishing industry from the 1870s to the present.
Experience the Richmond Night Market Summer Festival and feel the rush as you indulge in browsing and shopping from over 350 merchants' stalls. This unique mixture of multi-Asian and Western elements is held on weekends from mid-May through September.
Walk, run or cycle along any trail and take in the scenic beauty that surrounds the city. With eighty kilometres of trails, you can spend countless hours exploring new sights.
There is a new adventure on every trail: heritage sites that take you back to the serenity of time long past; birds, flora, and fauna, and other wildlife that share the foreshore environments, the agricultural community, and the fishing fleet.
McDonald Beach on Sea Island features a boat launch, a bait shop, and several picnic tables arranged on a high bank beside the Fraser River's North Arm. There's also fishing in Steveston, where a municipal pier juts out into the Fraser at Gilbert's Beach beside the South Arm Dyke Trail. Anglers can catch salmon, trout, and numerous other species from the shores of Deas Island Regional Park. The Riverside picnic area is one of the most popular areas from which to fish. A Tidal Waters Sports Fishing License is required by all anglers and is available at most fishing shops.
The annual Steveston Salmon Festival has been held on July 1, Canada's birthday, every year since 1945. The festival provides food, fun and entertainment for the whole family plus a huge salmon barbecue.
Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia