Richmond 150 – From Bog to City

2017 marks the 150th Anniversary of Canadian Confederation, a time span which parallels the history of non-First Nations settlement in what is now Richmond.  Shown in this post are images from the City of Richmond Archives from each of the 15 decades from the 1860s to the present.

1867 to 1877

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Hugh McRoberts is generally acknowledged to have been the first European settler in what is now Richmond. This image, from an original pencil sketch done by “R.P.M.” for McRoberts’ daughter Jenny and enhanced by Vancouver Archivist Maj. J.S. Matthews, shows a representation of the McRoberts farm on Sea Island in 1862. The album with the sketch contains the earliest known use of the name Richmond. Hugh McRoberts lived in the house until 1873, expanding his farm to cover nearly half of Sea Island. (City of Richmond Archives photograph 1977 3 4)

Starting with Hugh McRoberts there began a slow but steady migration of farmers to Lulu and Sea Islands. The settlement of Lulu Island started on the outside of the island and spread towards the interior due to the low lying, marshy land and peat bogs. Early settlers used the network of sloughs as transportation routes. In 1871 British Columbia entered Confederation and became a Province of Canada.

1877 to 1887

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The Municipality of Richmond was incorporated on November 10, 1879. The first council meetings were held in the house of Hugh Boyd but by 1881 our fledgling municipality’s first town hall was opened. Shown here ca. 1888, the building was erected at a cost of $488. It was also used as a school, as shown in this image. Posing for the photo are William Garratt, Leo Carscallen, Peter Carscallen, James Sexsmith, Mr. McKinney, Jack Smith, George Sexsmith, William Mellis, Frances Sexsmith, Anna Sexsmith, Pearl Robinson, Kate Smith, Grace Sweet, Mae Vermilyea and Anna Noble. (City of Richmond Archives photograph 1984 17 77)

Richmond continued to grow over the next decade as more people acquired land and homesteaded. Many pioneer families arrived during this time period, and in 1879 a group of them petitioned the BC Government to incorporate the area as the Municipality of Richmond. On November 10, 1879 the Municipality was incorporated and began the process of organizing road construction and dyking and drainage, now paid for by the collection of taxes. A new Town Hall was built on land which now forms the corner of Cambie and River Roads and the first school district was formed, with the Town Hall acting as the schoolhouse. In 1882 the first cannery was built in Steveston beginning our long fishing industry heritage. In 1885 the Letters Patent from 1879 were revoked and new ones issued to incorporate the Corporation of the Township of Richmond, redrawing the municipal boundaries to include all the islands in the North and South Arms of the Fraser River and ceding Queensborough to New Westminster.

1887 to 1897

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The first bridge to Richmond was built in 1889. The Marpole Bridge was actually two spans, one across the North Arm between Marpole and Sea Island and the other from Sea Island to Lulu Island. This image shows a crew of bridge builders and painters posing on the North Arm section, ca. 1888. (City of Richmond Archives photograph 1977 2 1)

By 1887 Richmond’s population had grown to 200-300 people. In 1889 the first North Arm bridge was built to Richmond, from Eburne on the Vancouver side of the River to Sea Island and then a second span to Lulu Island. For the first time there was a route to and from Richmond that did not involve getting in a boat, at least while the bridge was in service and not closed to allow for shipping traffic or suffering damage from a collision by shipping or ice. Communities developed in Steveston, London’s Landing and Eburne. Japanese immigration was underway, filling labour needs in the fishing industry. The first police constable was employed by the Municipality.

1897 to 1907

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Steveston was booming in the 1890’s when this image was taken (either 1891 or 1895). Stores, hotels and other services catering to workers in the fishing industry made for a vibrant business district and encouraged more people to settle in the area. The sign displayed on the left in this photo advertises town lots for sale by auction at the opera house at 2PM. (City of Richmond Archives photograph 1984 17 75)

By 1897 there were 23 canneries operating on the Fraser River in Richmond. The agricultural industry was performing well too with Richmond acting as the lower mainland’s breadbasket, providing vegetables, produce , dairy and beef products to the growing cities across the river. Into this successful mix came the BC Electric Railway Co. in 1905, providing fast and efficient freight and passenger service from Vancouver to Steveston.

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The B.C. Elelctric Railway Company Interurban Tram provided an efficient, regular service to Vancouver for freight and passengers. Eventually there were 20 stations on Lulu Island servicing residents and businesses. The tram ran for more than 50 years. (City of Richmond Archives photograph 1978 12 8)

1907 to 1917

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In 1909 Minoru Park Racetrack was opened making Richmond a destination for horse racing fans. The track had its own railroad siding and special trams operated on race days bringing in thousands of people for the events. (City of Richmond Archives photograph 2001 9 24)

In 1909, the opening of Minoru Park Racetrack made Richmond a popular destination for race fans. Named for King Edward VII’s Epsom Derby winning horse the track had its own siding on the BC Electric Railway’s Interurban Tram line with thousands of people travelling to Richmond for races and creating a new income stream for the city and entrepreneurs. The track also became a centre for aviation in the Lower Mainland, being the location of the first flight of an airplane in Western Canada, the starting point of the first flight over the Rockies, etc.

Richmond’s population continued to grow and by 1914 the Bridgeport area was home to a flour mill, a shinglemill, an iron bar mill, the Dominion Safe Works, a sawmill and many residents. The advent of World War I in 1914 put the nation and Richmond on a war footing and while industries important to the war effort grew, Minoru Park was closed until after the war. Many young men left Richmond to join the battle, 25 were never to return.

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On March 25, 1910 Charles K. Hamilton made the first airplane flight in Western Canada at Minoru Park Racetrack, starting Richmond’s long association with flight. (City of Richmond Archives photograph 1978 15 18)

1917 to 1927

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The 1918 Steveston fire devastated the fishing town. Shown here is some of the destruction with the burned out shell of the Hepworth Block at centre. Buildings on the north side of Moncton Street were saved. (City of Richmond Archives photograph 1978 5 2)

On May 14, 1918 Steveston burned. There  had been fires before but the 1918 fire resulted in the loss of most of the buildings between No. 1 Road and 3rd. Ave. south of Moncton St., including three canneries, three hotels and numerous businesses. Approximately 600 Japanese, Chinese and First Nations workers were made homeless. Total damages amounted to $500,000.

After the end of the World War I life returned to normal in Richmond. In 1920 a new Town Hall was built at the corner of Granville Avenue and No.3 Road, replacing the original one which had burned in 1912. The racetrack also reopened in 1920 with a new name. Now known as Brighouse Park Racetrack it was joined by Lansdowne Park Racetrack in 1924. The opening of the second racetrack in Richmond allowed double the amount of races to be held and still stay within the restrictions placed on the racing industry by the BC Government.

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Richmond’s new Town Hall opened in 1920 on property next to Brighouse Park Racetrack which reopened in 1920 after the end of the war. (City of Richmond Archives photograph 1987 97 1)

1927 to 1937


The program for the official opening of the Vancouver Airport on Sea Island in July of 1931. (City of Richmond reference files)

In 1929, in a farmer’s field just north of Lansdowne Park Racetrack, BC’s second licenced airfield opened. The Vancouver Airport was a temporary construction consisting of a grass field with some structures, hangars and a terminal building close to the Alexandra Road Interurban station. It was replaced in 1931 by the modern new Vancouver Airport on Sea Island.

The Richmond Review published its first newspaper on April 1, 1932. The paper would continue to publish “in the interests of Richmond and community” until its demise in 2015. The Great Depression was well underway when Reeve Rudy Grauer came up with a plan to help people who could not keep up with their property taxes. When back taxes or water bills could not be paid, the land could be sold to the Municipality. As long as the property owner could pay something toward the debt each year the land could not be sold to another owner with the result that not one property was lost due to unpaid taxes in Richmond during the depression.

1937 to 1947

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Members of the Steveston Air Raid Protection unit pose here on the fire engine they built in 1943. The unit was the first in Canada. Men have been identified as: (front) Chief William Simpson, (left to right) George Milne, Gul Gollner, Allie McKinney, unidentified, Austin Harris, Bill Glass, Jack Gollner, Milt Yorke and Harry Hing. (City of Richmond Archives photograph 1978 31 57)

This decade was dominated by World War II. The airport on Sea Island was designated for direct military use, including elementary flight training for Air Force Pilots as well as Air Force use. Boeing Canada erected a plant for the construction of patrol bombers for the war effort.

1942-1985 199 1 Boeing plant

The Boeing Canada Plant on Sea Island produced 362 Consolidated PBY long range patrol bombers, known as Catalinas or Cansos, during the war. (City of Richmond Archives photograph 1985 199 1)

The internment of Japanese Canadians and their removal from the coast in early 1942 changed the face of Richmond, especially in Steveston which lost 80 percent of its population. On Sea Island the community of Burkeville was built to provide housing for workers employed at the Boeing Canada Aircraft plant and their families. Once again young Richmond men signed up for the armed forces and 36 did not come home.

1947 to 1957


Post-war development in Richmond resulted in the growth of commercial buildings in the Brighouse area. Shown here in 1948, the corner of No.3 Road and Granville Avenue shows commercial buildings on the east side of No.3 Road near the Municipal Hall. The BC Electric Railway’s Brighouse Station made access to the area convenient and before long the east side of the street was lined with stores and services. (City of Richmond Archives photograph 1997 16 1)

Post war development saw Richmond’s population grow. The Brighouse area developed into a commercial hub and subdivisions developed to house families moving to the area. Burkeville became part of Richmond, no longer a worker’s housing complex. In order to serve the rising population, theatres, bowling alleys, swimming pools and other entertainment services were built. In 1948 one of the worst floods in memory occurred in the Fraser Valley. While serious damage was done in many areas, Richmond came out well with only one breach of the dyke 100 yards east of the rice mill.

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The Broadmoor Subdivision, looking west from No.3 Road in 1953 is only one of many residential areas that came under construction in the 1950s. New building to house Richmond’s rapid population growth boomed through this time whether as Veteran’s Land Act areas or by commercial developers. (City of Richmond Archives photograph 1977 1 59)

1957 to 1967


The construction of the Oak Street Bridge in 1957, and later the Deas Island Tunnel had a greater effect on the growth of Richmond’s population than any other event to that date. Now easily accessible from Vancouver and with a direct route to the United States, more people and more businesses moved to Richmond. (City of Richmond Archives photograph 2008 36 2 23)

In 1957 the Oak Street bridge was built giving fast and easy road access to Richmond from Vancouver and making the Municipality even more desirable as a place to live and to start a business. A new City Hall was opened the same year in the same location as the old one.  With the new ease of access and bus service expanding all around the region, the BC Electric trams were made redundant and the Marpole to Steveston line saw its last run in 1958.

1839 Brighouse

The last run of the Marpole to Steveston tram, shown here at Brighouse Station, happened on February 28, 1958. It was the last Interurban Tram operating in BC. (City of Richmond Archives photograph 1839 Brighouse)

The Municipality purchased the Brighouse Estates in 1962, the deal providing land for Minoru Park, the Richmond Hospital and industrial land. Richmond’s retail options increased in 1964 with the opening of Richmond Square Shopping Centre, built on part of the old Brighouse/Minoru Racetrack. In 1966 the Hudson’s Bay Company announced plans to build a store in Richmond which, in later years, would be joined to Richmond Square and become known as Richmond Centre Mall. The Richmond General Hospital opened on February 26, 1966 providing much needed local care for residents.

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The new Richmond Municipal Hall, under construction in the background of this photo, was opened in 1957. The old hall was demolished once the new one was ready to be occupied. (City of Richmond Archives photograph 1997 42 3 47)

1967 to 1977

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The Richmond Arts Centre opened in 1967, one of several projects to mark Canada’s 100th Anniversary. (City of Richmond Archives photograph 2004 11)

Canada’s 100th Birthday was in 1967 and like most communities around the country Richmond marked the occasion with commemorative projects. The Richmond Arts Centre was one of these, along with the placement of Minoru Chapel in Minoru Park, and a Pioneers Luncheon. In 1968 the Vancouver International Airport’s new $32 Million terminal opened. In 1972 the first two towers of Richmond’s first high rise development were ready for occupation, the third tower opened in 1973.

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Mayor Gil Blair speaks at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Lansdowne Park Mall. Built on the site of the horse racing track, the mall would open in September 1977. (City of Richmond Archives photograph 2006 7 12)

After much controversy a new shopping mall project was started on the grounds of the old Lansdowne Park Racetrack. Woodwards would be the anchor store for the new Lansdowne park mall. While the newest of Richmond’s retail outlets was under construction its oldest was lost in 1976 when Grauer’s Store shut down after 63 years of service to the community, a victim of airport expansion and bureaucracy.


Richmond’s oldest retail outlet, Grauer’s Store on Sea Island, closed it’s doors forever on May 31, 1976. (City of Richmond Archives photograph 1996 13 5)

1977 to 1987

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1979 was the 100th Anniversary of the incorporation of Richmond and several projects and celebrations were planned to mark the event. The Corporation of the township of Richmond adopted the “Child of the Fraser” Coat of Arms as its official symbol. (City of Richmond Archives image)

On January 1, 1977 a new street address system was introduced in Richmond with all residents and businesses adding a zero to the end of even numbered address and a one to the end of odd numbered addresses. In 1979 Richmond’s 100th Anniversary was marked by celebrations and commemorative projects including hosting the BC Summer Games, a history book, “Richmond: Child of the Fraser”, and the adoption of a new coat of arms and official seal.

Through this decade Richmond continued its expansion with the construction of hotels, businesses, temples and churches and community buildings such as the Gateway Theatre and Minoru Senior’s Centre. Improvements to other community buildings were made, such as a roof for the Minoru swimming pool and a second ice rink. In 1986, after 20 years of planning, the Alex Fraser Bridge was opened connecting Richmond to Surrey and Delta.

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The Gateway Theatre is a mainstay of Richmond’s arts and culture community. It opened on September 19, 1984. (City of Richmond Archives accession 1988 121)

The Municipality purchased the land at Garry Point from the Bell-Irving family in 1981, with the intention to make it a park and to prevent development of the site. The racial demographic of Richmond began to change in the 1980s as an influx of immigrants from Hong Kong began, many making the Municipality their home.

1987 to 1997

Fantasy Garden World opened in Richmond on March 5, 1987. Owned by BC Premier Bill Vander Zalm, the facility operated for many years as a tourist attraction. Work began on a $55 million project to renovate Richmond Square and Richmond Centre malls. The project would result in the joining of the two malls as a new Richmond Centre Mall.

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Opened on March 5, 1987 Fantasy Garden World was a Richmond tourist destination, and a catalyst for political controversy. (City of Richmond Archives photograph 2009 16)

In May 1990 Richmond asked the Provincial Government to grant the Municipality status as a City. New Letters Patent were received designating Richmond Municipality, known as “The Corporation of the Township of Richmond”, to be called the “City of Richmond”.

Richmond continued to grow. Ground was broken on Richmond’s new Library and Cultural Centre in 1991, the Riverport area was developed with the construction of the Riverport Ice Rink Complex and the Watermania Aquatic Centre. The Ironwood Mall project was approved. Several Asian style malls were built to serve the rising numbers of immigrants from Hong Kong and Mainland China. The Aberdeen Centre, Yaohan Centre, Parker Place, President’s Plaza and Fairchild Square marketed themselves under the name “Asia West”.

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Richmond’s new Minoru Park Plaza and Library and Cultural Centre opened on January 16, 1993. (City of Richmond Archives photograph 2008 39 6 685)

1997 to 2007

Richmond marked the new millennium with the opening of the new City Hall on May 20, 2000.

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Richmond City Hall opened on May 20, 2000. It is believed to be the first municipal building in BC to use a Feng Shui consultant in its design. (City of Richmond Archives photograph 2007 7)

In 2002 the Tall Ships came to Steveston resurrecting images of 100 years ago on the waterfront when sailing ships loaded canned salmon. The city continued is growth, cranes becoming a normal sight on the sky line as more and higher buildings were erected.

The River Rock Casino opened on land once occupied by the failed Bridgepoint Market. The facility, with its resort hotel, opened on June 24, 2004. Construction on the largest project to date in Richmond, the Olympic Speed Skating Oval, began in November of 2006.

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Construction began on the Olympic Oval in November of 2006. (City of Richmond Archives – B. Phillips photograph)

2007 to 2017

On August 17, 2009 the first passenger rail system since the demise of the BC Electric Interurban line began service in Richmond. The Canada Line rapid transit line connected Richmond City Centre and YVR to Downtown Vancouver.

The big story of 2010 was the Winter Olympic Games. Richmond’s Olympic Oval was a venue for the speed skating events and the community celebration site at Minoru Park, known as the O Zone, was crowded with spectators for concerts, events and to visit the Holland House in Minoru Arenas for a visit or a drink and a meal.

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Crowds watch the big screen at the O Zone as Sydney Crosby is interviewed after the winning goal for Canada in the Gold Medal Hockey game. (City of Richmond Archives – W. Borrowman photo)

Richmond’s growth continued through this decade, building increased with highrise construction changing the city skyline dramatically. More shopping centres opened, MacArthur Glen Outlet Mall brought retail back to Sea Island and Central at Garden City had space for a Walmart Supercentre as well as many other merchants. The Railway Greenway was opened, creating a biking and walking corridor along the old Interurban line to Steveston. The Garden City Lands, formerly held by the Department of National Defense, have been purchased by the City and are being transformed into an urban farming area and natural bog land park.

Work has begun on a bridge to replace the Massey Tunnel, now nearing its 60th anniversary, a structure that will increase traffic flow through Lulu Island and may bring more people to live here. The City’s population has exceeded 200,000 and is growing still.

The pioneers who made a living from the boggy soil and running waters of Richmond would have had little concept of the city that has grown in the past fifteen decades. Who knows what the next fifteen will bring?

Arrested Development – Sturgeon Bank

Over the past century there have been many proposals to develop Sturgeon Bank for various uses. Projects included deep sea ports, landfills for garbage, airports and recreation areas. None of the developments got off the ground but it is interesting to see the vision that some people and organizations have had for the area over the years.


The 1912 plan for Sturgeon Bank included rail and highway links as well as miles of dock space for shipping. City of Richmond Archives, accession 1264.

Probably the most ambitious of these proposals was put forward in 1912 by the Vancouver Harbour and Dock Extension Company. The plan included an enclosed deep sea port with six piers 1 1/2 miles long each, an enormous log pond, a direct highway link to New Westminster and a railway, complete with a five mile-long tunnel under Vancouver to the False Creek rail yards. The proposal was estimated to cost $30 Million.


An artist’s conception of what the 1912 Sturgeon Bank Harbour development would have looked like. City of Richmond Archives, accession 1264.

A 1928 proposal suggested that Sturgeon Bank would be an ideal location for an airport featuring a large field for wheeled aircraft, two large enclosed seaplane basins, a pylon for mooring airships and a large terminal. Sea Island appears to remain undisturbed farmland.


An artist’s conception from 1928 of the proposed Sturgeon Bank Aerial Depot shows a busy aerodrome with seaplane basins and airship mooring. City of Richmond Archives, photograph 1984 21 1.

Development proposals slowed down through the depression and war years but began again during the 1950s. In 1957 and 1958 proposals showed development on Sea Island as well as Lulu Island and for the first time included some green space.


This 1957 proposal showed development of Sturgeon Bank on Lulu and Sea Islands with large commercial and industrial areas, docks on the North and South Arms and, for the first time, some recreational area with parks and a beach. City of Richmond Archives, Sturgeon Bank Reference File.


This 1958 suggestion had room for airport expansion as well as industrial dock space. City of Richmond Archives, Industries Reference File.

In 1962 a project was brought forward by a company named Terra Nova Developments Ltd. suggesting that Sturgeon Bank would be an ideal place for a sanitary landfill. The concept would have had the twofold benefit of providing a place for disposal of household and industrial waste for the Lower Mainland and the creation of new land for use as industrial and/or recreational use.


The 1962 proposal by Terra Nova Development Ltd. showed Sturgeon Bank plotted for land reclamation by use as a sanitary landfill. A deep sea shipping channel with turning basin is included in the drawing, allowing dock access for future industrial development. City of Richmond Archives, Industries Reference File.

The project would have seen covered barges filled with domestic refuse, hogfuel, millpond waste, demolition rubble harbour and river debris and other commercial tradewaste (excluding abattoir waste, distillery refuse and toxic chemicals) brought to the site at night and offloaded. The refuse would then be immediately covered with sand.


The 1962 landfill project would have resulted in land reclamation for the purposes suggested on this aerial photo. The permissions from the Departments of Fisheries, Transport and Public Works had all been granted for this proposal. City of Richmond Archives, Industries Reference File.

In 1968 an enormous, but far greener project was proposed which would have seen the area transformed into a recreational paradise. A 1000 boat marina on the Middle Arm, three “lakes” with swimming beaches, two golf courses, a rowing channel between the Middle and South Arms, a nature preserve, wharves and a hotel complex were all envisioned as possible in this ambitious development. Proximity to the airport would have provided easy access for tourists who wanted to take advantage of the facilities and enjoy the panoramic views afforded by the location.


A photograph of an artist’s model pf the proposed recreational development of Sturgeon Bank is shown in this photo. City of Richmond Archives, accession 2003 18.

None of these development proposals took hold, mostly due to a perceived lack of economic return for the investment, but you can be sure that a walk along the west dyke would have looked very different than it does today if any of these projects had gone forward.

Registered Trademark – Commercial Art from the B.C. Packers Collection

The City of Richmond Archives acquired a large number of records of British Columbia Packers Ltd. at the time of the closure of its head office in Steveston. Among the records transferred to the Archives were an extensive series of files relating to the application for, registration, and maintenance of trademarks used and administered by the company and its predecessor and related companies. The records include trademark registrations, correspondence, product packaging, and hundreds of different labels that were in use from 1890 to 1999. Shown in this posting are a few of the trademarked labels owned by BC Packers which illustrate some of the themes used in marketing salmon.

Alexander Ewen was a pioneer in the canning industry on the Fraser River. In 1902 he became the president and largest shareholder of a new firm, The British Columbia Packers' Association. Shown here Ewen Brand Sockeye Salmon label from that era.

Alexander Ewen was a pioneer in the canning industry on the Fraser River. In 1902 he became the president and largest shareholder of a new firm, The British Columbia Packers’ Association. Shown here is an Ewen Brand Sockeye Salmon label from that era.

From the earliest years of salmon canning, the graphics used on the labels tended to be colourful and eye-grabbing to attract the consumer. Some of the earliest labels were printed in Victoria by the Colonist.

An 1891 Excelsior Brand salmon label. The cannery using this label was at Ladner's Landing, owned by E.A. Wadhams. The company shipped its product through its agents in San Francisco, D.L. Beck & Sons.

An 1891 Excelsior Brand salmon label. The cannery using this label was at Ladner’s Landing, owned by E.A. Wadhams. The company shipped its product through its agents in San Francisco, D.L. Beck & Sons.

Labels were sometimes printed and applied closer to the final market of the product, the cans being shipped “bright”, ie. without labels.

This label, also from 1891, was printed by the Canada Bank Note Co. in Montreal and included handling instructions in English and in French.

This label, also from 1891, was printed by the Canada Bank Note Co. in Montreal and included handling instructions in English and in French.

Trademarks had to be registered with the appropriate government department, in the case of Flagship Brand, the Department of Agriculture, Trade Mark and Copyright Branch in Ottawa. The registration document included a complete description of the label as shown below.

The trademark registration document for Flagship Brand Salmon, 1893.

The trademark registration document for Flagship Brand Salmon, 1893.

The Flagship Brand label was enticing on a number of levels. The “Flagship of modern pattern” and the Ensign and Union Jack made a patriotic connection to the British Motherland. The beautiful, wild British Columbia scenery showed the beauty of the land where the fish was caught, a wilderness tamed by the modern steam train on the right, all surrounded by a bright, eye-catching orange.

Flagship Brand, 1893.

Flagship Brand, 1893.

The majority of the BC fishery’s output was shipped for sale in Britain and nations of the British Empire, and as such, labels often carried some reference to the Monarchy or the Empire to encourage sale to patriotic shoppers. This could be done symbolically, as in Rex Brand, or directly with the words “British Empire Product” on the label, or in both ways.

Rex Brand Salmon's trademark showed a salmon leaping through a crown.

Rex Brand Salmon’s trademark, ca. 1906, showed a salmon leaping through a crown. The brand was registered in Australia and New Zealand starting in 1905.

Dominion Brand Salmon labels bore the image of the British Lion with

Dominion Brand Salmon labels bore the image of the British Lion with “British Empire Product” written in a banner below. This image was seen on many BC Packers labels.


Emblem Brand, first registered in 1903, also bore the British Empire Lion Logo, as well as a Union Jack and the floral emblems of the United Kingdom. Emblem Brand was registered in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India and France.

Products sold in other countries often had distinct labeling. Rex Pearl was a brand registered in Australia.

An Australian label for Rex Pearl Choice Canadian Salmon.

An Australian label for Rex Pearl Choice Canadian Salmon.

Trademarks had to be registered in all the countries where the products were sold. Cascade Brand was a registered trade mark in many countries, including the Netherlands, as shown below.

A Dutch Trademark Registration Certificate for Cascade Brand Salmon, 1947

A Dutch Trademark Registration Certificate for Cascade Brand Salmon, 1927

Labels were often thematic, trying to reach the consumer by appealing to their aesthetics. Many gave colourful representations of the magnificent scenery of British Columbia, sure to catch the discerning housewife’s eye as she did her shopping.

Sunset Brand Chum Salmon, with beautiful scenery.

Sunset Brand Chum Salmon, Trademark first registered in 1907, showing beautiful British Columbia scenery.

Canyon Brand

Canyon Brand Canadian Red Salmon, from the 1930s.

Arbutus Brand

Arbutus Brand White Spring salmon. Arbutus was first registered in 1906.

Occasionally, Canadian stereotypes were used to sell salmon. Nansen Brand in particular used scenes of ice and snow to represent the wild country that the fish came from. The brand was registered in Australia, New Zealand and Canada starting around 1918.

Nansen Brand with a polar bear on an ice floe.

Nansen Brand with a polar bear on an ice floe.

Nansen Brand with dog sled and trapper

Nansen Brand with snowy scenery and a dog sled and trapper on skis.

Some labels attempted to evoke feelings of hearth and home and good times with friends. Examples include Dinner Bell, Household and Table Talk brands.

Dinner Bell Brand

Dinner Bell Brand Fancy Pink Canadian Salmon. Dinner Bell was registered in New Zealand from 1938 to 1951.

Household Brand Salmon

Household Brand Fancy Canadian Red Salmon, registered in Canada from 1919 to 1969.

Table Talk Brand

Table Talk Brand Choice Red Cutlets.

Others used sports and other popular modern activities to promote the sales of their products.

Derby brand for the horse racing fan

Derby brand for the horse racing fan, first registered in 1906.

Lacrosse brand

Lacrosse brand.

Aviator Brand

Aviator Brand.

Of all the labels used to market salmon, the one with the longest history must be Clover Leaf. One of the best known brands, it was originally registered by a New York company in 1890, being transferred to the British Columbia Packers Association around 1908. The Brand was used on many varieties of canned goods such as vegetables and soups as well as the seafood products that it is best known for. The brand is still in use today, passed on from BC Packers, and can be seen in just about any supermarket.

The Clover Leaf Brand is perhaps one of the best known and longest used trademarks from BC Packers.

The Clover Leaf Brand is perhaps one of the best known and longest used trademarks from BC Packers.

So, while BC Packers has gone and most of the trademarks controlled by it have vanished, one at least remains to remind us of the company’s long history of quality seafood production and its long connection to Richmond.

Traffic Congestion in Richmond – Bumper-to-Bumper Through the Years

Traffic congestion has been a major topic of conversation among Richmondites from the early age of motor cars to the present day.

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Traffic on No. 3 Road, as viewed from the Ackroyd farm, ca. 1915. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 1988 95 1

Roads like No. 3 Road have always been problematic for traffic, witness Council minutes and resolutions like this: “Decision to place Danger Signs near the corner (curve) at the end of No. 3 Road on the River Road owing to two bad curves and congested traffic.” (June 25, 1923)

Traffic at Brighouse Park Race Track, 1921. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 1978 13 5

Traffic at Brighouse Park Race Track, 1921. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 1978 13 5

Special celebrations and events have always caused traffic congestion and parking problems.  From sporting events and May Day celebrations to horse racing fixtures at the two Richmond thoroughbred tracks, travel often meant long line ups and delays.

Line-up for the Ladner ferry on No. 5 Road, 1947. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 1997 16 19

Line-up for the Ladner ferry on No. 5 Road, 1947. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 1997 16 19

Richmond’s geographic location on islands in the Fraser River has always posed problems for traffic at river crossings.

Whether it be the ferry to Ladner or crossing the old Marpole and Fraser Street Bridges, bumper-to-bumper traffic was a normal component of a commuter’s day.

Bumper-to-bumper traffic on the Sea Island side of the Marpole Bridge, 1955. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 1997 42 3 145

Traffic congestion on the Sea Island side of the Marpole Bridge, 1955. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 1997 42 3 145

Here’s an account by Grant Thompson of the Sea Island Heritage Society of the problem of crossing the Marpole Bridge at rush hour in the 1950s:

“One of the results of these traffic jams was that both Lancaster Cres. and Catalina Cres. were turned into one-way streets south bound. During rush hour many drivers would race north down either street and then try to cut back onto Miller in the case of Catalina or back onto “Airport Highway” at the north end of Lancaster. Barricades blocked access to Miller Road at Wellington Cres. and at the lane on the east side of Sea Island School. Add to this the traffic from the Airforce Base on Miller Road and the traffic from Cora Brown on Grauer Road turning left onto the Bridge and you had one big mess coming from Sea Island.  Also contributing to this back up was traffic heading to the Lansdowne Race Track which backed up in old Marpole and also the traffic making a left turn cutting across the Air Port Highway to use the Bridgeport bridge and traffic coming from the west from Lulu Island merging onto the Marpole Bridge in front of Grauer’s store. Add to this the opening of the Marpole Bridge for boat traffic which happened often depending on which way the tide in the river was going. It was quite often 8 o’clock in the evening before the traffic eased off. The odd configuration of the street intersection didn’t help matters in Marpole. During these back-ups there were two Vancouver policemen detailed to directing traffic in Marpole. The parking lot at the ANAF club was always full; people would stop and have a few beer and wait out the rush hour. In fact it was much faster to walk the mile from Burkeville, go to the show at the Marpole Theater and catch the bus home after the movie. The Fraser Bridge was not much better as it also backed up for many of the same reasons.”

Construction tie-ups on No. 3 Road, 1985. City of Richmond Archives - Richmond Review Photograph 1988 121 - August 21 1985.

Construction tie-ups on No. 3 Road, 1985. City of Richmond Archives – Richmond Review Photograph 1988 121 – August 21 1985.

Modern transportation and traffic planning and the return of commuter rail to Richmond with the Canada Line have alleviated some of the earlier traffic nightmares.  Traffic congestion and its associated problems, however, still remain a major challenge for Richmond and other municipalities in the Lower Mainland.


Early Navigation and the Leading Tree at Garry Point

In the early days of navigation, mariners depended heavily on knowledge of landmarks and geographical features to find their way. This was especially true when entering harbours and river mouths. Early navigational charts showed important physical features that would be visible to mariners, and at the mouth of the Fraser River one of the most important of these was “The Leading Tree”, a large tree at Garry Point which stood out starkly on the otherwise featureless landscape of Lulu Island.

This view of Steveston’s “Cannery Row” shows a rare image of the Leading Tree at Garry Point, on the left, ca. 1890. Photo from City of Richmond Archives digital reference files.


Article from the New Westminster Daily Columbian, November 21, 1891. (City of Richmond Archives Reference Files.)

The Fraser was first charted in 1859 by Captain G.H. Richards, who also had a series of navigation buoys anchored to mark the river channel.

On his chart the tree was featured as a navigational marker and it subsequently appeared in future Admiralty charts and sailing directions for decades to come.

The tree was called by several names, the Leading Tree, the Lone Tree, the Garry Tree and the Garry Bush and was either a spruce, pine or fir, depending on which record is read. Regardless, it was  a vital guide in making one’s way into the river, even for experienced local mariners.

Improvements in navigating the river continued, with the availability of river pilots and installation of lightships and lighthouses at the Sand Heads, but the tree continued to be a navigation aid until 1891 when newspaper reports in the May 30, 1891 Daily Columbian raised concerns about the tree’s future, saying that “Mr. Turner (George Turner, formerly of the Royal Engineers) had two mattresses sunk at Garry Bush to try and save it from being carried away. Garry Bush, a well known land mark to mariners, is a tall pine tree with some wild crab apple trees growing about, on the lower end of Lulu Island.”

The article states that in the previous three years 400 to 600 feet of shoreline had been washed away and  that the roots of the tree had become undermined. A later article from November 21, 1891, titled “An Ancient Landmark Gone” stated that despite efforts to save the tree, it had been washed away in a gale on the 20th.

1978 34 3

Gambles Observatory at Garry Point in 1909. Built as a tide gauge, a fixed red light was added to it after the tree was washed away. It was visible for six miles. (City of Richmond Archives photo 1978 34 3)

The loss of the tree prompted the authories to install a light at Garry Point, mounted atop Gamble’s Observatory, which had been built as a tide gauge by Provincial Government Public Works Engineer F.C. Gamble, the supervisor of dyking operations in the lower Fraser Valley.


A walking tour map of Garry Point Park from 1989 shows significant locations around the park, including the location of the “Garry Point Tree”, No. 11, and Gamble’s Observatory, No. 12. (City of Richmond Archives Reference Files)

The construction of the Steveston Jetty in 1911 and a program of dredging have stabilized the shifting main channel and newer lights and navigation markers and buoys make the trip up the river much less risky than in the past, but all these modern aids to navigation have a heritage that stems back to a single large tree that grew at Garry Point.