Steveston village is a city within a city. You enter within its boundaries and you feel like you’ve been whisked off to a small village in the middle of nowhere that mysteriously has a coastline and plenty of docks. It is located at the mouth of the South Arm of the mighty Fraser River that runs through and around Vancouver.
It’s my favourite place to take out of town visitors, especially if they want to see something in Richmond, the actual city I call home. We would start the day at the docks, walking along Fisherman’s wharf and checking out the catch of the day.
Many boats come in offering the freshest seafood making Steveston’s fishing port the largest commercial fishing port in Canada.
Being right on the water, it was only natural that Steveston started as a salmon canning centre in 1880.
The area also supported a significant boatbuilding and shipbuilding industry.
The salmon canning business was so important in this area, that Steveston was once known as Salmonopolis. Eventually the industry ceased and now the buildings stand as a testament to times passed. The Gulf of Georgia Cannery is the best place to go to see this history and is how we would spend the rest of the morning.
Today, Steveston is a mix of charming historical buildings and modern day comforts. With many delicious food options, it’s hard to choose where to eat. For lunch, we head to the docks for a classic: fish and chips. Pajo’s. famous for its fish and chips, is our destination and sits on its own separate dock area. What started off originally as a small stand has now grown into a multi-location business.
Since 1985 Pajo’s has been serving up fresh local ingredients and recently they’ve been certified as a partner of Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program which means the restaurant is committed to serving seafood entirely sourced from sustainable fish stocks.
After lunch we take a stroll around the village, popping into a variety of independently owned shops, all while taking in the small town atmosphere. Steveston’s charm is not lost on location scouts as Steveston has been the backdrop for a number of movies and TV shows, including the current show, Once Upon a Time.
They have transformed Steveston into the fictional town of Storybrooke, Maine. I have never been in Steveston when they were filming, but you can see parts of the set around the village as you explore.
All this walking has worked up a bit of an appetite and a stop for some dessert is needed. There is only one place you need to go: Timothy’s Frozen Yogurt. The smell of the waffle cone is what hits you first. Then you spot the line. While they offer gelato and sorbet, it is the fresh fruit frozen yogurt that you want to go for. Your choice of fruit gets blended together with a plain frozen yogurt block, nothing like the recently popular frozen yogurt places with candy toppings (ahem Pinkberry). What you end up with is a thick frozen yogurt with plenty of fruit flavour in a freshly made waffle cone. Perfection on a summer’s day.
I like walking when I have ice cream, so we head down the path towards Garry Point Park which offers great views of the Fraser River and the nearby Gulf Islands. Take a wander through the Kuno Garden, a Japanese-style memorial garden, and take a look at the Fisherman’s Memorial Needle.
Otherwise Garry Point is a great place to sit and relax, enjoying a summer’s day. There are plenty of benches or you can bring your own blanket. It’s usually windy here and perfect for kite flying.
Note: there is also a branch of both Pajo’s and Timothy’s at the park. If you don’t want to deal with lines, these locations tend to be less busy.
For dinner, head back to Steveston to one of my favourite Japanese restaurants in the city: Ichiro Japanese Restaurant. Sashimi is a must. It’s so fresh and has a great velvety melt in your mouth texture. I haven’t ordered anything I haven’t liked yet on the menu. On it you would find the typical Japanese fare. It’s simple, but so delicious. They also have a revolving special menu depending on the catch of the day which is usually something really unique. The meal will be on the pricier side, but so completely worth it. This place is really popular so be sure to drop by earlier in the day to make a reservation if you’re going during peak dinner times.
So there you have it. A perfect day in Steveston village full of history, charming buildings, nature and lots of delicious food.
How would you spend a perfect day in your hometown?