When I think of Richmond, I think of Ikea, the night market and impatient drivers (oops). But the little town of Steveston - best known in recent times as the filming location of TV show Once Upon A Time - is the epitome of life in a sleepy fishing village. It's a wonderfully refreshing contrast to the often crazed busyness in other parts of Richmond.
On a sunny May afternoon, we took a 30-45 minute drive down from Vancouver and spent a good part of the day exploring.
Here are some of my favourite sightseeing spots and Instagram-worthy destinations to check out in Steveston!
12138 Fourth Avenue, Richmond, BC V7E 3J1
This salmon cannery reportedly dates back to the 19th century, and is a treasure trove of information on the fishing industry in Canada's west coast. Some parts of the original structure have been retained, while other sections have been painstakingly recreated (the area where the fish were cut and deboned looked particularly gross, as you can see in the pictures above!).
During our time here, we joined a guided tour (information on tours can be found on-site) to learn more about the canning process. Unsurprisingly, canning was an extremely laborious process, and many women would work with their young children in tow while the men went out to sea to fish. It was also a hazardous job, thanks to machinery that acted viciously on not-so-quick fingers.
I enjoyed learning about Steveston's role in building up the fishing trade here, and also about the different types of salmon available in these parts. Plus, because we had our Parks Canada discovery pass on hand, entry was free ;)
12351 3 Avenue, Richmond, BC V7E 2Z1
So this is probably one of the best fish and chips I've had in Vancouver (my other favourite spot is The Fish Counter on Main Street, fyi!). Another testament to their success: they've got so many locations in the Lower Mainland.
We went to Pajo's on the wharf and ordered three different varieties of fish to try: Pacific wild cod, Pacific wild salmon and Pacific wild halibut. All of them tasted great, but my favourite was definitely the cod fish. Also, these guys are super generous with their fries. I can't wait to have this again!
3820 Bayview Street, Richmond, BC V7E 4R7
After filling our bellies, we took a short stroll along the boardwalk and headed to the wharf, where fishermen were hawking their catches. We saw spot prawns, crabs, fish on sale - basically, it was a seafood lover's dream come true.
This area evokes memories of a wet market, which you might be familiar with if you've ever been to Asia. Still, it's worth going in for a look-see, and possibly scoring a good deal on fresh fish.
4011 Moncton Street, Richmond, BC V7E 3A8
While getting a latte to go at Rocanini Coffee Roasters, we spotted this historic tram display across the road and trooped over out of curiosity.
Tram Car 1220 was built in 1913, and is currently one of only five cars that exist today. The chance to view this stunning piece of history and even get to explore its Wes Anderson-esque interior was quite the treat. The exhibition space isn't that large, but this is definitely one photo-worthy spot!
5180 Westwater Drive, Richmond, BC V7E 6P3
Our last stop of the day was the Britannia Shipyards. We reached close to their closing time (5pm), and in hindsight, I would've loved to spend more time here because it was so educational and informative. It's probably the highlight of my Steveston trip (the fish and chips are a real close second).
Essentially, the shipyards are an eight-acre cluster of heritage buildings along the Fraser River, and showcases a mix of canneries, boatyards and residences. Seeing how people lived in the past was the most intriguing aspect for me. The workers were a varied mix of Japanese, indigenous peoples and Caucasians, and they mostly lived in large wooden bunkhouses. The managers/bosses, meanwhile, had very English-style abodes - complete with floral wallpaper, lace tablecloths and the like. They lived in individual houses built on stilts (like the red-walled house you see in my photo).
One other must-see is the Murakami House, a lovingly restored home which the Murakami family lived in for years. I loved reading about their lives in the shipyard and imagining how 10 people (if memory serves me correctly) could live, work and play in rather cramped lodgings.
Oh, and the best part about visiting the shipyards is that it's absolutely free, so if you're on a budget, you know where to go!