The object of the Society is to preserve and promote the history of Steveston, BC
Our Society has been in place since 1976 to preserve and promote the history of Steveston, British Columbia.
Beginnings of Steveston
Steveston is located on Lulu Island, one of the many islands of the Fraser River delta. Before European settlement, there were two Musqueam First Nations summer camps nearby.
In 1877 Manoah Steves came from New Brunswick and purchased 400 acres at 75 cents per acre. Manoah was soon joined by his wife Martha and their six children.
The Steves’ eldest son, William Herbert, bought land and created town lots, opened a post office, started a newspaper promoting the new community, and even built an opera house. The Town of Steves, or Steveston, was born.
INVEST in the city of the future, STEVESTON, And become A MILLIONAIRE!
— Extract from a sign observed by the Countess of Aberdeen on tour in BC, 1893
Along the Steveston waterfront in 1906 there were 18 canneries filled with First Nations, Chinese and Anglo-Canadian workers. Fishing was initially dominated by First Nations people and later by Anglo-Canadian, European and Japanese men.
Commercial Boom and Bust
Steveston experienced years of boom and bust. From the 1880s, dyking began to drain the muddy landscape. An electric tram line connected Steveston to Vancouver in 1906. Shops and businesses were established, the salmon industry flourished and local farming expanded.
The downturn in the salmon industry from the 1910s hit the town hard with many canneries closing. This economic decline continued with the 1930s Great Depression.
By the early 1940s, almost half of the population of Steveston were Japanese and more than half the shops on Moncton Street were Japanese-owned. After the December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese internment began in BC. By May 1942, all people of Japanese origin were removed from Steveston and interned either at camps in interior BC or on farms on the Prairies. Internment, devastating to the Japanese community, also gutted Steveston economically.
The Steveston Museum and Post Office Building
The Steveston Museum and Post Office building was Steveston’s first bank when it opened in 1905. This building was originally both the Northern Bank and a temporary residence for the bank manager and his family.
The prefabricated building was selected from the BC Mills Timber and Trading Co. catalog and shipped down the Fraser River by barge from New Westminster. It remained a bank until 1963, when it became Dr. J.M. Campbell’s medical practice.
In 1979, the building opened as The Steveston Museum and Post Office. Today, it is surrounded by traditional wooden boardwalks and contains exhibits about life in Steveston Village. As of 2012 the site also hosts a Tourism Richmond information centre.
Post-war Steveston developed along with Richmond into a residential suburb for Vancouver as farmland was converted to housing. Since the 1970s the community, which remains an active fishing port, has developed its heritage character and its waterfront to attract business and tourism.
Steveston has often been the site of filming for both films and television shows.
(Source text courtesy of Richmond Museum and Heritage Services)