Known as the Island City, By Nature, Richmond is a vibrant, multi-cultural community with sophisticated shopping, international cuisine and an abundance of recreational activities. Located just 20 minutes from downtown Vancouver, Richmond provides close access to Vancouver International Airport, the Gateway to the Pacific Rim and North America. Twenty minutes to the south is the BC Ferries Terminal at Tsawwassen, and the Canada/US border at Douglas is only a thirty-minute drive away.
The first inhabitants of Richmond were the First Nations People, who thrived and lived close to the shore to harvest the abundance of fish. The first white settlers realized the great opportunities for farming due to the richness of the soil in the region. Before the first roads were built, the easiest form of transportation in the Fraser Estuary was by canoe and boat.
Early European and Asian settlers in the Fraser River Estuary quickly learned the importance of dike building to hold back both the ocean’s high tides and the river’s annual floodwaters. Much time and energy had to be spent diking and draining the low-lying land. Lulu Island, the largest in the delta and home to the city of Richmond, is embraced by all three arms of the Fraser River. Seven bridges and the George Massey Tunnel connect it to the rest of the Lower Mainland. Lulu Island is ringed by 48 miles (77 km) of dikes topped by easygoing walking and cycling trails. One of the first dike trails constructed in the Fraser Estuary was on Lulu’s south shore at London’s Landing. As these trails are level, you can cover a lot of ground in an outing while soaking up the island scenery.
The Fraser River’s constant flow is responsible for filling in the shoreline of the Strait of Georgia with silt. Two expansive tracts of tidal marshland front the delta – Sturgeon and Roberts Banks – without providing much in the way of beaches. Instead, the shoreline is characterized by tall stands of bulrushes and lies strewn with driftwood.
Although Richmond has undergone a great deal of development, it continues to respect its roots as an agricultural community. Naturalists will want to explore Richmond’s dyke trail system – perfect for cycling, jogging or leisurely walks, while others can enjoy a day of golf at one of the many fine golf courses.
Richmond takes great pride in its beauty, natural environment and numerous parks and gardens, and makes an effort to provide a welcome community in which people can visit, work and live.
Down on the southwestern shore of Richmond sits historic Steveston Village. At the turn of the century, Steveston was the busiest fishing port in the world. Now over 100 years old, Steveston has evolved into a picturesque working fishing village that comes to life each summer with plenty for visitors to see and do. Heritage sites, fresh seafood, great local restaurants and colourful gift shops and markets await the visitor.
The Gulf of Georgia Cannery in Steveston, on Fourth Avenue directly behind Canfisco, is operated by a group of community members and representatives of the local fishing industry and contains relics from the past, when the canneries operated day and night. A model of a 1930s production line is set up along one long L-shaped counter. Murals of fish and trawlers cover the walls; showcases full of glass net floats from Japan, various shiny salmon tins, and model boats help convey a sense of Steveston’s heritage. Mountains of fishing gear and nets are arranged outside. The interpretive centre is open from May to mid-October. Admission includes a 20-minute film presentation in the Boiler House Theatre.
In the heart old Steveston you’ll find the Steveston Museum. Surrounded by board sidewalks, this former Northern Bank building reflects the community’s heritage as a busy commercial centre.
A treasure trove of classic motorcycles can be viewed at the Trev Deeley Motorcycle Collection, with over 250 motorcycles and 51 different makes on display. The collection is Trev Deeley’s legacy of his involvement in the motorcycle, and includes British, American, Japanese, Italian and German motorcycles. Located at 13500 Verdun Place in Richmond, the collection is open Monday through Friday, 10am to 4pm. Admission is by donation, with proceeds donated to charity.
Buddhist Temple: Japanese and Chinese immigrants were among the first settlers to come to British Columbia, and this eastern influence has helped shape Richmond’s development and culture. The most exquisite example of Chinese palatial architecture in North America exists at Richmond’s magnificent Buddhist Temple.
Also located in Steveston at the south foot of Railway Avenue is the Britannia Heritage Shipyard. Visitors can take a self-guided walking tour of this National Heritage Site. Britannia is one of the few surviving examples from Steveston’s rich past, when a mix of canneries, net lofts, boatyards, residences, and stores defined the neighbourhood. Restoration of the site is in the development stage, and over the coming years much of its former glory is slated to be restored. At present, the Britannia Shipyard augments a walking or cycling tour of the Steveston harbour. For more information, contact the Britannia Heritage Shipyard Society, 604-718-1200.
Time stands still as you venture through the doorway of the historic London Heritage Farm. Built during the 1890s, this fascinating heritage site on nearly 5 acres overlooking the south arm of the Fraser River offers the visitor a hands-on experience of rural life in the early development of Richmond. Surrounding the house are vagrant herb and flower gardens, and other attractions that include the restored Spragg family barn, and a hand tool museum.
Some of the best live performances in the Pacific Northwest take place in the 560-seat Gateway Theatre, one of the most beautiful theatres in Canada.
Known as The Chapel in the Park, Minoru Chapel was built in 1891 as the first church on Lulu Island, and is now a provincial heritage site functioning as an interdenominational chapel. Located in the heart of Richmond in Minoru Park.
The Richmond Library, Culture Centre, Art Gallery & Museum is a popular multicultural complex featuring nine art studios, a gallery of contemporary art and an extensive museum housing over 9,000 artifacts. Collections include archaeology, ethnology, textiles, furnishings and items that reflect Richmond’s diverse history.
Nearly 43 percent of Richmond is preserved as farmland, bearing testimony to the city’s rich agricultural heritage. The tradition continues with some of the finest produce and fruit crops in the world. During summer, visitors can sample and purchase a range of fruits, berries and vegetables at numerous farms, or visit one of the many famous U-Pick farms, harvesting their own bountiful crop.
Golf: The Richmond area offers a number of golf options: Greenacres Golf Course has earned the reputation for quality and excellence that few public courses can match. The beautiful 6,022-yard course is immaculately maintained, lined with lush trees with just enough water hazards and elevated greens to give anyone’s game a good test. Open year round with a par 71 for men and a par 73 for women. At Mayfair Lakes Golf & Country Club the Westcoast scenery, high standard in course conditioning, and beautiful surroundings combine to offer a world-class golf experience, conveniently located only minutes from the Vancouver airport. Richmond Country Club offers a championship golf course that entices both the avid and recreational golfer. The long fairways, manicured greens, and delightful vistas of woods and lakes serve to enhance this pleasure. Richmond Country Club’s golf and racquet facilities are devoted to encouraging family participation. Quilchena Golf and Country Club prides itself in being a course of exceptional quality and playability for any level, offering 120 acres of golf with five sets of tees allowing for up to 6,665 yards of play. In the area, Ladner offers the challenging 9-hole Covelinks Golf Course on Admiral Boulevard. Golf Vacations in British Columbia.
Cycling: Two of the more popular starting points for a cycling jaunt along the dike are Terra Nova, at the northwestern corner of Lulu Island, and Garry Point Park, on the southwestern tip. The Terra Nova trailhead is located at the west end of River Road. An observation platform and picnic tables are located nearby. At this point you can choose to head in several directions. If you want to explore the open marsh, take the 3-mile (5-km) West Dyke Trail. If you are more inclined to watch the action on the Fraser River, try the Middle Arm Trail, which runs an equal distance east along Moray Channel. All trails are well signed with distances indicated in kilometres. The varied terrain of the Vancouver, Coast and Mountain region of BC accommodates every outdoor recreation known to man.
The West Dyke Trail connects Terra Nova with Garry Point Park. A cycle trip can just as easily begin from one point or the other. Garry Point Park lies 3 miles (5 km) south of Terra Nova in the fishing community of Steveston. The park entrance and trail are located at the west end of Chatham Street. Take the Steveston Hwy W exit from Hwy 99 to reach Steveston. The South Arm Dyke Trail begins at the foot of No. 2 Road, just east of the Steveston harbour, and runs 3 miles (5 km) to Woodward’s Landing Park beside the George Massey Tunnel and Hwy 99. Along the way, you’ll pass numerous interpretive signs that outline interesting aspects of natural history, such as bird and fish migrations, as well as heritage sites. This section of trail offers a variety of stops for visitors to explore. You can pause for a look around at London Farms, picnic on the pier at the foot of No. 2 Road, and check out the old river homes on Finn Slough at the foot of No. 4 Road.
Sea Island’s backroads are a good place to cycle while watching planes or eagles, osprey, and heron, take off and land. A good place to begin is Iona Beach Regional Park. A causeway links Iona Island with Sea Island. Plan on taking 45 minutes or so to pedal the lengthy 7.5-mile (12-km) stretch of paved backroads that lead across Sea Island along Grauer, McDonald, and Ferguson Roads. If the backroads don’t completely satisfy your will to wheel, tack on another 5.5 miles (9 km) by riding out to the end of Iona’s jetty and back. By then you’ll be saddle weary, for sure!
Fishing: 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 near Steveston, where a municipal pier juts out into the Fraser at Gilbert’s Beach beside the South Arm Dyke Trail at the foot of No. 2 Road, just east of the Steveston harbour. 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.
Iona Island offers 12 miles (20 km) of sandy shoreline beside Sea Island. Finding your way to Iona Beach Regional Park involves first crossing Sea Island, which can be tricky, as it is home to the Vancouver International Airport. As the backroads lead to Iona, you pass the somewhat misnamed McDonald Beach. At low tide a small beach is revealed here but it is hardly the place you’d want to spread out a towel (the wake put up by passing marine traffic on the Fraser River would soon send you running for higher ground). Iona Beach Park is really where you want to head to if you are looking for a place to stretch out beside some driftwood. There is a wildness here on the western perimeter of the delta that defines Iona’s unique personality. Two lengthy jetties shelter the beach as they stretch out into the Strait of Georgia. The banks of Iona Jetty are lined with concrete riprap, while North Arm Jetty is much sandier.
Walking Trails: The estuary dike trails in Iona Beach Regional Park provide excellent and extended leisurely walking trails and jogging opportunities.
Stargazing: If you’re looking for an ideal spot to do some stargazing, Iona Beach Park is it. The park is far away from the lights of nearby Richmond or Vancouver, and out here the night sky is as black as bean sauce. Just make sure that you leave your vehicle outside the nearby gates if you plan to be in the park after closing time, unless you’re attending one of the special stargazing evenings offered throughout the year by GVRD Parks. Note: Although the gates to the park close at dusk, visitors may still enter on foot.
Photography: Plexiglas shelters are located at the midway point and the far end of the pipeline at Iona Beach Regional Park. Not only do they provide a break from the cool winds that often blow across the ocean, but these are also ideal locations from which to snap a sunrise or sunset shot. The most prominent features in the panoramic vista are Mount Baker to the east, the Coast Mountains to the north with Pacific Spirit Regional Park in the foreground, and the open water of the Strait of Georgia with a profile of the Vancouver Island Mountains to the west.
Covering over 200 acres of parkland, the unique Richmond Nature Park covers one of the last remnants of Lulu Island’s once-extensive bogs. Visitors can pick and choose from the network of trails winding through the bog and shady birch forest, viewing the wonderful variety of birds and wild flowers.
The Salmon Festival, held here on July 1st, is a cultural celebration and taste sensation that can’t be missed.
Don’t miss the Cranberry Harvest and Slugfest, held annually in Richmond Nature Park during October.
South of Richmond is the sunny municipality of Delta, which is truly a delta, formed by Fraser River silt building up over hundreds of years.
Circle Tours: See the best of the area on a driving Circle Tour. Head north out of Vancouver for the scenic Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island Circle Tour, or stay on the intensely scenic Sea to Sky Highway, passing through the magical winter resort town of Whistler and Coast Mountains Circle Tour. To explore the rural farmlands and forests of the fertile Fraser Valley, take the Fraser Valley Circle Tour, travelling outbound on the scenic route north of the historic Fraser River, returning westwards along the Trans Canada Highway 1 to Vancouver. Circle Tours in British Columbia.