West Coast Therapy


July 8, 2024

Words by: Twyla Campbell

Photography by: Tourism Richmond

Charming, picturesque Steveston, B.C.

The flight time from Edmonton or Calgary to Vancouver is about 90 minutes long, making this west coast city a popular getaway option for many a prairie traveller. The next time, though, that you want some sunshine and seafood, I suggest you head south of the airport (instead of north), to Steveston, a former fishing village on the edge of Richmond, the city in which Vancouver’s International Airport is located. 

You can spare the rental car; Steveston is a very walkable place with shops and restaurants close in proximity to accommodations. If you want to zip around, Village Bikes has a variety of models to rent including road bikes, electric-assist cruisers, mountain bikes, and tri-cycles—perfect for carrying all those purchases you’re going to make at the quaint boutiques. 

In the 1880s, Steveston was home to 45 salmon canneries. Evidence of that industry remains in the historical markers along the boardwalk and trails running along the waterfront, and in the village’s two National Historic Sites, the Britannia Shipyards and the Gulf of Georgia Cannery.

Steveston is a charming, idyllic town, and while much of it was declared a heritage zone in the 1960s, it is still a working fishing village. If seafood is what you seek, you’re in the right place. Nearly every restaurant has an aquatic offering: fish and chips, fish tacos, seafood platters, oysters, mussels, spot prawns, and salmon, of course—smoked, cured, grilled and chowdered, which makes sense; the largest salmon run in North America happens right here. 

Fresh seafood is also available for purchase right at the docks; handy if your accommodation has fully-equipped kitchens, like the rooms at the Steveston Waterfront Hotel. As indicated by its name, the hotel is a stone’s throw from the water. Just steps outside your door are pathways to view boats and birds, or benches where you can sit and enjoy a cup of coffee at sunrise. 

May through October is prime whale watching season in this area. Our excursion with Seabreeze Adventures had us out on the water for most of the afternoon in a 12-person Zodiac with Shauna, a certified marine naturalist who provided in-depth information on seals, sea lions, eagles and orcas. Whale watching excursion companies abide by a code of conduct that limits their time spent in areas where orcas and other sea animals are present. Excursion operators record sightings and sealife information in a database to keep track of animals’ health, behaviour and migratory action. Safety for humans and animals is top of mind; survival suits are worn not only to keep people safe in case of emergency but also to keep guests warm and dry from seaspray while navigating the choppy waters between the Fraser River and the Strait of Georgia. Seabreeze Adventures has a 97% success rate and offers guests the opportunity to come back at no charge to try again if, at first, they don’t succeed in spotting a whale. 

June, July and August are the busiest times for tourism in Steveston. Visiting in the shoulder months of May, September or October is highly recommended and just as enjoyable. 

Bring your camera and your appetite.

Closest airport: 

Vancouver International Airport (YVR), a 20-minute car ride to Steveston. 

Notable food and drink: 

Blue Canoe, Britannia Brewing, Baan Lao, Toast to Coast, Pajo’s.

What to do: 

Liron Gertsman Birding Tours
Seabreeze Adventure – fishing and whale watching
Britannia Shipyard – guided tours and a 2-hour riverboat cruise
Gulf of Georgia Cannery – history of the local fishing industry

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