Steveston Village nominated as UNESCO heritage site
1940s photograph of fishing boats docked at Imperial cannery in Steveston with five young women fish cannery workers walking along the dock. (CITY OF RICHMOND ARCHIVES/ PHOTOGRAPH #1985 4 14)
Richmond City Hall is trying to take Steveston back from the big screen to its roots as a fishing village that was once a significant supplier of food for the war effort during the First and Second World Wars.
Those unfamiliar with the southwestern Richmond village might see the former B.C. port of call as the home of hit television series Once Upon a Time, or be excited to see it appear in an upcoming Godzilla movie.
Coun. Bill McNulty said council is partly to blame for the historical site’s now-famous silver screen ties.
“That’s not what it should be known for. It should be known for historical significance,” he said on Tuesday.
“We’ve not done a good job of selling it in that aspect. We’ve picked it up for tourism, but also we need to push for the significance with regards to history.”
That push, McNulty said, is the reason council has approved $20,000 for a consultant to write an application to nominate Steveston Village as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The village is still home today to former “Monster” Gulf of Georgia Cannery — the largest of 43 at the turn of the century at Steveston’s waterfront. At its peak, the cannery produced 2.5 million cans of salmon in one year.
“And it’s still going today as a museum with Parks Canada,” McNulty said.
The village — which runs little more than a few blocks in each direction near the intersection of No. 1 Road and Moncton Street — is also home to Canada’s second oldest post office, still functioning today.
In more recent years, development has sprung up around the village and many of its buildings are now being redone — or in some cases, even torn down and rebuilt.
McNulty said council continues to try to “curtail” the development of the village and maintain its rustic character.