Richmond, BC, incorporated as a city in 1990, population 190 473 (2011c), 174 461 (2006c). The City of Richmond is located adjacent to and south of VANCOUVER and west of NEW WESTMINSTER.

Richmond, BC, incorporated as a city in 1990, population 190 473 (2011c), 174 461 (2006c). The City of Richmond is located adjacent to and south of VANCOUVER and west of NEW WESTMINSTER. The city comprises Sea Island, most of Lulu Island and 12 smaller islands in the delta of the FRASER RIVER. Between 1971 and 1991 Richmond's population doubled, due in part to increased immigration from Hong Kong and China. There was also significant immigration from the Philippines and Taiwan. Due to its new and culturally diverse populace, the city provides many services in different languages. Its population growth also led Richmond to obtain civic status (it was a district municipality from 1879) in 1990.


The area's first inhabitants were Coast SALISH, though they mainly visited the islands on fishing trips. In 1861 Colonel Richard C. MOODY, in surveying southern BC and selecting townsites on the Fraser River, named Sea and Lulu islands, the latter after an American actress called Lulu Sweet. Hugh McRoberts became the first settler in 1862, purchasing 648 ha on Sea Island. He called his farm Richmond View after his former home in Australia - perhaps the origin of the present name.

A slow but steady migration of farmers to the islands began and by 1879 the area had 30 families. In that same year these settlers successfully petitioned for the islands to receive municipal incorporation. Also during this period the port of Steveston developed to take advantage of salmon at the mouth of the Fraser River. At one time it boasted 49 canneries.

The first bridge connecting Richmond with the mainland was built in 1889 and by 1902 a railway link existed. Vancouver International Airport was built on Sea Island in 1931. It is now Canada's second busiest airport.

JAPANESE CANADIANS have played an important role, especially in the fishing and canning industry. Today there is still a substantial Japanese presence in Richmond, and Steveston is one of the largest Canadian centres of Japanese culture.

Present Day

In its early years, Richmond's agriculture and fishing made it Vancouver's "bread basket." Fish is still processed in Steveston and Richmond's rich alluvial farmlands continue to be productive, but the city has become increasingly residential. Today most residents are employed in small businesses and the retail sector, although there is a strong light manufacturing sector and high technology and communications manufacturing is increasing in importance. Tourism is also significant because of the airport and the city's proximity to the US border.

Richmond has the highest percentage of new immigrant arrivals in British Columbia. The city also has the second largest Hong Kong and Filipino communities in the province. In recent years, several major shopping facilities have been built to cater to the large Asian community.

Two national historic sites, Britannia Shipyard (designated 1991) and Gulf of Georgia Cannery (designated 1976); London Heritage Farm; and Steveston, the site of a large Japanese population before World War II are important heritage resources. The most popular landmark, the Minoru Chapel, is in the heart of Richmond. Part of Minoru Park, it was built in 1890 and restored in 1968 as a historic site. To the north of the park is the Gateway Theatre, which holds plays, musicals and lectures. The Richmond Library and Cultural Centre opened in 1992 and includes an art gallery, archives, museum and library. The Steveston Salmon Festival is held on July 1.

Further Reading

  • Mary Keen, Time and Tide: The Settlement of Lulu Island's South Arm Shore (2005); L.J. Ross, Richmond: Child of the Fraser (1979) and Richmond: Child of the Fraser 1979-1989 (1989).

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