PROVENANCE WEB MAGAZINE
Spring - Summer 1997, Vol.2 No.2
Day and Overnight Trips
Historic Steveston is at the south end of the southern suburb of Richmond.
To get to Steveston, take Highway 99 south, and then the Steveston Highway exit. You'll exit the freeway, and the first set of lights will be # 5 Road. Travel to #1 Road and turn left. About a kilometer south, you'll come to Moncton Street. Park. You're in Steveston.
I grew up here, and in the late 1950s and early 1960s, when it was all flat farmland and fishing boats. Then the population was comprised of families of Japanese descent who fished for a living, farmers, and a few former city folks who'd found a cheap acre or two for a barn, a couple of kids, and a garden. With the sun shining as I jigged for salmon from one of the docks, I learned my first words of Japanese, and found it a difficult language. My eldest sister had a better ear than I, and later took Asian Studies at UBC.
In those endless days, my sisters and I rode our horses for hours along the Fraser River, and the miles of Richmond dykes, past some of BCs most arable farmland, which has all been turned into housing now north of Steveston Highway.
Steveston's main street, Moncton Street, retains the character it's had for the last 50 years. The Steveston Hardware store is still filled with a jumble of fishing supplies, from gill nets to full trollers, the old bank is now a well cared for museum, and the Hotel has had a bit of a face lift. In between, several gems have appeared in the last decade. The new and used bookstore on the main street stocks a great collection of "junk" reading from best sellers to mysteries. Cannery Row makes the best sandwiches and muffins. And the best fish and chips in Vancouver is still found at Dave's (there are two locations).
Up a block, along the water, is the more recently developed new section. Latte vendors crowd together with gift stores, trendy restaurants, and T-shirt shops. Take a walk down to the boats, where fishers holler out prices of their latest catch. If you have time, take one of the boat tours, which head west out along the breakwater where you can see hundreds of sea lions in their natural habitat.
If you head west two blocks, you'll be at the Gary Point Park, which has a path along the Fraser, all wind blown and sea air.
If you're driving, head east down Moncton Street, turn right at Trites Road and follow the signs to the Britannica Heritage Shipyard, which documents the fishing history of Steveston. Turn left, and you'll pass the Pond, where you'll see the world's largest fishing fleet. Continue around the Pond and head east on Dyke Road. You'll be driving along the Fraser River, which offers magnificent views of Mt. Baker just to the southeast. You'll pass the Heritage Lucy London Farmhouse on the left, which is open for tours. Turn left on Gilbert Road. On the left hand side, about a mile down, you'll see Fernando's Farm, which sells the freshest, cheapest, and best produce in Richmond. Continue on to Steveston Highway, turn right and head back to the freeway.
When I'm frantic to get out of the city, I head for the Gulf Islands, an archipelago of Islands just south of Vancouver in the Straight of Georgia, between the mainland and Vancouver Island.
These islands are known for their temperate climate. They have less rainfall and warmer temperatures than the mainland year round.
They're a popular getaway, given their peaceful, bucolic geography, and far slower pace. Farming and tourism form the basis of the economy of the Islands, and many craftspeople, artists and writers make their home here, at least part of the year. From cycling to boating to visiting the many galleries on the Islands, there's something to do for everyone - including just sitting on a deck overlooking the ocean and reading.
If you plan to take your car, you'll have to make reservations by phoning BC Ferry Corporation at 669-1211. But you don't have to take your car. If you plan to stay overnight, ask your hosts/hotel to come and get you.
To get to the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal take highway 99 south and follow the signs to the Ferries. If you're walking on, park at the terminal. If it's full, drive back along the causeway and park at the Tsawwassen Indian Band's parking lot. They provide bus shuttle service back to the ferry. Plan to arrive at least an hour ahead of the sailing.
If you plan to take the bus from downtown, ask BC Ferry Corp. for instructions. Ferry service is provided to Galiano, Main, Pender and Saltspring Islands.
This Island is over 20 miles long, and narrow, and lush with Arbutus trees and firs. The tang of salt air is ever present, and there are some wonderful beaches, including Montague Harbour, which also has a camp ground. Cycling can be a bit rough, given the up and down hilly terrain. There are just 1,000 permanent residents, a few grocery stores, a gas station, and a pub.
This little 8 square mile island, with a population of almost 900 permanent residents, is perfect for cycling and walking. Go clockwise. For some reason the hills seem less onerous than counter clockwise. You'll be rewarded with ocean views (and if you're lucky, eagle views), a nice beach at Bennett Bay, and lots of wonderful forested areas. As you exit the Ferry, go straight ahead. You come to a little plaza with a bakery that serves some of the best cinnamon buns and samosas around.
The "Penders," with a permanent population of almost 2,000, are two islands, North and South Pender, which are joined by a tiny bridge. There is wonderful cycling to be found here - through forested areas and rolling farm land, and some lovely beaches. Make sure to visit Port Washington on North Pender where there's a lovely old general store. Along the way there's a decent 9 hole golf course.
The largest of the Gulf Islands, with a population of almost 10,000 permanent residents, Saltspring has three "towns," Fulford Harbour, Ganges and Vesuvius, two 9 hole golf courses, wonderful beaches and hiking spots, 11 lakes, and many art and craft galleries.
Fulford Harbour is, to my mind, one of the tiniest, yet brightest places in the Gulf Islands. It's reminiscent of a wonderful bygone era where nothing much happens, and all the locals know one another. Here you'll find the hang out is Rodrigo's Restaurant, where 1960s hippies peacefully eat great cinnamon buns, cheese scones, and fabulous pie, alongside retired dentists from Ontario.
Attached to Rodrigo's is the Canada Post office, where the Post Mistress doubles as the Fulford's librarian. There are no online public access terminals, card catalogues, or date dues. Instead, you take what you like and return the books when you're finished with them, plus a couple of others you've bought in the city and are finished with. Fulford also offers a well stocked grocery store which gets a few big city newspapers. But we recommend you pick up the local paper and relish the flavor of what the locals are up to.
Ganges is the largest town and offers everything from a department store to an ice cream shop. Good restaurants include House Piccolo which offers European and Scandinavian cuisine, Bouzouki Greek Café, and Alfesco Waterfront Restaurant.
Vesuvius has an Inn - that's it - and it serves decent meals inside or from the outdoor deck which has one of the best views around.
Last update 5/6/97, 5/7/97 Site Administrator