Richmond is knowns as the island city and when many think of it, they think of a strong Chinese population, however that only rings true in recent years. In reality, Richmond has a long history that began with its settlement as a Japanese fishing village, and today I would get to experience some of this rich history in this, our self guided tour of Steveston Village in the 2019 Ford Fusion Energi Titanium.
I often take for granted the eligibility of our city as a destination. Throughout the year many tourists flock to our shores to explore all that our Lower Mainland has to offer: from majestic mountains and sparking waters, to towering trees, sprawling cityscapes, and ethnic hubs teeming with diversity. And what better way to appreciate the later than with a drive around Richmond. And what better a time than when Vancouver’s gas prices are the highest in all of North America, and I have a hybrid vehicle for the week.
Standard on the Ford Fusion Energi is the EV button, this lets you switch between 3 modes, giving your the ability to go from EV Now, Auto EV, and EV Later; dictating how your drive and how your fuel is consumed.
Although there aren’t many places to charge and electric or partially electric car. The city has yet to catch up with green vehicle trends; or hear the desire of consumers wanting to spend less on fuel, while helping the planet by running less emissions. None-the-less I was able to find some outlets in my apartment’s unground parking, to fully charge the Fusion Energi daily. A full battery gave me more than enough for my daily commute to and from work, with stops for meals and grocery store excursions in between. And when there was nothing left, the regular gas engine switched on seamlessly to get me that much further. And after the course of a week including all the stops in this post, I only used 1/4 of a tank. And that’s a lot when you are facing a $80 fill up; where in between traffic and fuel economy, you spend more on gas versus groceries.
But back to our self directed tour of Richmond. Our first stop was the Larry Berg Flight Path Park, enroute to Steveston. This is a patch of green designed to best enjoy the view of all the planes flying overhead (YVR, Vancouver’s international airport is located in Richmond). There, there is a recreation of the earth that you can climb, and signs that you can read to better understand the significance of the land you were standing on.
Then it was back in to the car, for a quick zip to Steveston. But on this long weekend, the village was crowded and busy, and parking was scarce and tight. Luckily the Ford Fusion Energi was nimble and equipped with Ford Co-Pilot360™. This is technology that includes Adaptive Cruise Control and Stop-and-Go. They help to detect traffic changes, then responds to them accordingly. The Fusion Energi also comes equipped with a lane keeping system, blind spot warning, pre-collision assist, and a rear view camera to ensure safety when reversing. All this technology takes the anxiousness out of driving for a less experienced, or more cautious driver.
The Ford Fusion Energi Titanium also comes equipped with “SYNC® 3 AppLink™” with “Waze”, meaning it is now easier to use the popular navigation and traffic app, that you didn’t know you needed. And by accessing “Waze” through “SYNC 3 AppLink”, you can collaborate with other users to outsmart traffic and the police, by sharing information for the best routes, and the ones that avoid speed traps. You also receive real-time alerts about accidents, road hazards and traffic jams.
All the above had us driving safely and more strategically. So much so that we lucked out, and found on a spot to park in, right by the Gulf of Georgia Cannery, which was also our first stop in Steveston. Built in 1894, the cannery was once the leading producer of canned salmon in British Columbia. And today its memory lives on in this museum. It is an interactive way to learn and remember the men and work that went into the Canada’s West Coast fishing industry.
The same equipment that was used back then, is available here. It lays out the cannery process from catch of the day to cans with eye catching labels.
If you get hungry in Steveston, “Pajo’s” is the place to go. They are known as one of Vancouver’s best places for fish and chips. But be warned, expect a line. Everyone wants a taste of the catch of the day, battered and deep fried with a squeeze of lemon.
If you rather prepare your own fish, get some fresh from the fishermen and women that dock their boats at the Steveston‘ Fisherman’s Wharf. Here they offer their spoils of the day over ice.
Covered in tarp, the dock becomes a marketplace. Shrimp, pollock, and octopus; but the most popular was the currently in season, spot prawn. These sweet sea crustaceans are best eaten raw.
Don’t like fish and chips? Or looking for something different, try “Steveston Pizza Co.”, better known for their over the top pizzas. Traditional trick crusts piled high with the likes of shrimp, crab, and lobster. These babies do get outlandish with a price tag to match. For more details, visit my restaurant review below.
Our next historic tourist attraction was the “Steveston Interurban Tram”. An actual tram car that you could enter into and explore.
Built in 1913, this and other such trams contributed to the development of Richmond’s city centre. But this would only last for 45 years, as the time of the tram came to an end with the explosion of automobiles on the roads, coupled with the expansion of new suburbs not serviced by rail. As of today, there are only 7 BCER operated interurban trams left. Of the 28 original, 1200 class tramcars, 5 survive today including Car this one in Steveston.
Steveston is also known as the backdrop for the popular tv drama “Once a Upon a Time”, and fans flock to the seaside town for photos with their favourite landmarks. Like the Steveston Antique Mall, which moonlights as Storybrooke’s clock tower. And “Granny’s Diner” in the show is the “Cannery Café Seafood House” in real life.
Next, we visited the Steveston Museum and post office. It was erected in 1905 during the cannery boom, where it housed Steveston’s first bank.
It now portrays the story of Steveston, as a fishing and farming village with Japanese and Chinese artifacts reflecting the presence of these cultures. I most enjoyed the Japanese zen garden out back.
For more on Richmond’s rich fishing history, you can visit the “Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site”. This is only a 5 minute drive away from Steveston Village. Here, they have guided tours available and actors/historians dressed in periodic wares, recalling history with actual artifacts.
I most enjoyed the full furnished homes that gave you a look at how Japanese immigrants, who came for work at the shipyards, lived. The manager and his 10 children in their more luxurious one bed room home, versus the 15 labourers crammed into one dorm.
In short, if you are looking for something to do this summer, or if you want to explore like a tourist on a budget, the scenic and historically rich Steveston deserves your consideration. All of the above attracts were free to view, and all I had to pay for was the food I consumed. And if you have a great hybrid like I did, you save even more, by not having to pay for gas. Thanks Ford Canada for the inspiration and the fun long weekend exploring Steveston like a tourist.