History of Richmond Municipality

by Mary Thompson

Mary Thompson Age 19
Mary Thompson, Age 19

In 1923, Mary Thompson wrote a short history of Richmond for a school project. This charming, hand-written booklet, illustrated with photographs that she took herself, provides us with a captivating view of 1923 Richmond as seen through the eyes of one of its young citizens.

In 1985, Mary Thompson's booklet was donated to the City of Richmond Archives along with other records of the Thompson family. This exhibit provides an overview of Mary's project. To read her full text and view all 40 images see this PDF.

Like many people of her day, Mary Thompson had a great appreciation for the natural beauty that gave Richmond the name "Garden City." In her history she writes that "in the early years there was a growth of timber along the waterfront while the remainder of the Island was covered with grasses of different kinds ... wild roses grew in great profusion and to a great height garlanding the bushes and festooning the trees whose beauty in June was undescribable."

Mary Thompson History page 4

Mary Thompson History page 7

Mary also focused on the accomplishments of Richmond's Pioneers. She writes that "Hugh McRoberts was the first person to make permanent improvements on the Island. To him is due the honor of being the first to dyke in and cultivate a piece of alluvial overflowed land at the mouth of the Fraser River. ... McRoberts died in 1883 leaving a long and interesting record as a pioneer, a good sturdy man of the best type."

In addition to describing the physical geography and general history of Richmond and its pioneer settlers, Mary also included 40 photographs that she took of the community.

These include photographs of Woodward's Landing, the Orange Hall, the Fisherman's Hospital, the B.C. Electric Interurban Station in Steveston, the Royal Bank building (now the Steveston Museum), the old Municipal Hall, the Thompson family home, and many other buildings and sights all over Richmond.

Mary Thompson's class at Sea Island School, 1929
Mary Thompson's class at Sea Island School, 1929. Photograph # 1985 39 65
Six years after completing her student history project at Bridgeport School, Mary began teaching at the Sea Island Japanese School. She taught from 1929 to 1940, and again in 1947.

Mary Thompson's original "History Project of Richmond Municipality" is preserved at the City of Richmond Archives, and is available as a PDF to view online.