About Heritage Services
Richmond is a city proud of its unique and significant heritage. Heritage can be anything of a physical, cultural or social nature that is unique to, and valued by, a community and passed from generation to generation. While the stewardship of the City of Richmond’s heritage resources is led by Museum and Heritage Services, there are many organizations and individuals within the city that contribute to the preservation, presentation, and documentation of Richmond’s heritage.
The Museum and Heritage Services Year-in-Review showcases Richmond's recent investment in this work and the essential role heritage plays in building and sustaining a diverse urban community that is socially and economically healthy.
Presenting Richmond's Heritage
Many of Richmond’s unique and fascinating stories are told at heritage places, and through exceptional programs and events across the city. These opportunities provide engaging ways for individuals to learn about Richmond’s past and celebrate the distinctive culture that makes Richmond what it is today.
The places which actively share Richmond’s heritage with the public include:
- Richmond Museum
- Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site
- Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site
- Richmond Olympic Experience
- London Farm
- Steveston Museum and Post Office
- Steveston Tram
- Minoru Chapel
- Scotch Pond
Preserving Richmond's Heritage
Preserving, or saving, heritage objects, documents, and places, and their stories, provides a collective memory for community. It is through these memories that new generations and newcomers can experience the history of a place and its people. By helping to save these histories, community members develop meaningful understandings and relationships to each other and to their histories.
The City of Richmond preserves objects that tell the stories of Richmond in the Artefact Collection. From First Nations baskets, to bog horseshoes and Chinese opera costumes, the 20,000+ artefact collection tells the many stories of Richmond. Mainly donated by community members, these artefacts are displayed in museums and heritage sites across Richmond. Explore the extensive artefact collection online.
The City of Richmond Archives preserves the history of Richmond in its collection of over one kilometre of textual records, 170,000 photographs, 20,000 maps and plans, and over 500 sound and moving image recordings. The Archives acquires both public and private records with the understanding that ownership is held in trust for future generations. These records are accessible to City officials and the public both online and at the Archives.
Recording Community Stories
Community stories are saved by the Richmond Museum and CIty of Richmond Archives through the Oral History program. Richmond is full of people with fascinating stories to tell and the oral history program records these stories for people to learn from and enjoy for many years to come.
Conserving Heritage Places
Special places within the City are protected by the City of Richmond’s Planning Department. Under the provincial Local Government Act, a local government may adopt a Heritage Designation Bylaw to formally protect a heritage resource. Additionally, the City adopted a comprehensive heritage conservation program for Steveston Village in 2009. A variety of planning tools are used to save the heritage of designated sites and identified places within the Steveston Heritage Conservation Area for future generations.
Recognizing Richmond's Heritage
In addition to the stories presented at the City’s museum and heritage sites, Richmond’s heritage is recognized and celebrated through national designations and awards. While this recognition does not offer additional protection for heritage places, it does bring attention to and celebrate the importance of this past.
The unique heritage associated with Richmond has been nationally recognized a number of times.
- The Gulf of Georgia Cannery was designated a national historic site in 1976. It is recognized because of its association with the West Coast Fishing Industry, from the 1870s to the modern era, its location in Steveston, historically the most important fishing village on the West Coast, the cannery buildings and extant resources which reflect the industry’s development.
- The Britannia Shipyards was designated a national historic site in 1991 because its existing boatworks and shipyard are representative of fishing boat construction and repair activities in Canada's Pacific Coast salmon fishery.
- The 1375 km Fraser River was designated to the Canadian Heritage Rivers System in 1998 based on its outstanding natural and cultural values as well as its exceptional recreational opportunities. To date, it is the longest Canadian Heritage River.
- Steveston is recognized as the location to commemorate the Fishing Industry on the West Coast National Historic Event. For thousands of years the fishery has been vitally important to people on Canada's west coast. It provided food for Indigenous peoples and is still an essential element of their culture. Commercial fishing began in the 1830s when the Hudson's Bay Company salted salmon for export in barrels. More efficient fishing methods, new canning and freezing technologies, and access to remote markets by ship and railway fostered an industry which has for generations employed men and women of many origins. Steveston’s Cannery Row is an excellent example of the important role the fisheries played in communities along the West Coast of Canada. So-called because of the more than 15 of canneries that were located here during the height of the fishery in the 1920s, Cannery Row runs from Garry Point in the west to the foot of No. 2 Road in the east. Along its length are a number of industrial and utilitarian built resources related to the fishing and canning industries.
There are more than 100 different heritage places, buildings, landscapes and plantings which have been identified in Richmond as contributing to the community's heritage character. These can be privately or publicly owned and are identified and recognized on the City’s Heritage Inventory and Register. City Staff and the Richmond Heritage Commission collaborate on maintaining the places identified on these lists and working to keep them part of the community’s landscape.
Local heritage activities are recognized annually through by the Richmond Heritage Commission’s Heritage Awards. These awards recognize the accomplishments of individuals and organizations for the conservation of historic places and for promoting an awareness of Richmond’s diverse heritage.