Archive for June, 2012

Steveston Eco Tours

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

I’ve Looked at Steveston from Both Sides Now.

Although I do not have a bucket list, I have always wanted to see Steveston from the water. My children have been out on the Fraser River as Santa’s crew members and I confess I felt envious seeing them arrive at Fisherman’s Wharf with big smiles on their faces, wondering what they saw out there. When the opportunity came along for me to interview Bruce Livingston, owner and operator of his one-year-old business, Steveston Eco Tours, it was difficult to stop myself from dashing immediately to Paramount Pond where he moors Archie V, his six passenger custom tour boat.

Livingston is living his dream. He recently retired from his thirty year career as a lawyer. Many of you will know him from the law firm Henderson Livingston Stewart which was located in the old Steveston Courthouse on 3rd Avenue. Livingston has made a huge commitment to this community. Born in Vancouver, he has lived and worked in Richmond since the 1980s when he began work as a young lawyer. He is incredibly knowledgeable about the area. He served on the Gulf of Georgia Cannery Society’s board for twenty years, he is on the board of the Steveston Historical Society, and he is board president of the London Heritage Farm Society. In addition, Livingston is involved with the Valdes Island Conservancy Association, which provides a voice for the natural areas of the island.

When Livingston chose to retire early, he wanted to share his passion for this spectacular area and purchased a boat to take people out to experience the wonders of this magnificent location. His clients include an even mix of locals and tourists. He sees Steveston’s heritage, harbour and the community minded people as being intertwined, and he is deeply committed to and grateful for all three.

Livingston has always been attracted to the water, and comes by it honestly; his grandfather was also a boating enthusiast. Livingston has had an affinity for the water and Gulf Islands for as long as he can remember. When he was a teenager his family bought property on Valdes Island, located between Gabriola and Galiano Islands. The property is outfitted with an Eco Lodge, where in the near future overnight stays will be possible. Swimming at a private sandy beach and enjoying a waterfront picnic are currently part of the tempting summer package if you choose to visit this island.

Valdes Island is one of many destinations where Livingston will happily escort his passengers. When you book a tour, the world is your oyster, and every day is an adventure. If you have a dream to visit the wineries on Pender and Saturna Islands, have a pub lunch on a Gulf Island, view the murals at Chemainus, tour the Fraser River Estuary, travel by water to Fort Langley, or see petroglyphs carved by First Nations people on Gabriola Island, Livingston can take you there. He also offers special services including burial at sea, small weddings, and club tours for specialized groups including bird watchers, naturalists and book clubs. Enthusiastic to show my children and me the ‘other side’ of Steveston, Livingston welcomed us onboard and we set off from Paramount Pond as he shared interesting Steveston history along the way, and kept me laughing with his good sense of humour.

The vista from the water is incredible. Steveston’s pair of swans came up to greet the boat. For the first time I finally saw Fisherman’s Wharf from the perspective of a fisherman aboard a trawler arriving at the dock; it was a humbling experience to be on the water where the history of this fishing village began and continues to this day. We motored by the recently placed wreaths at Fisherman’s Memorial, after the annual Day of Mourning ceremony had taken place.

Soon after we passed Garry Point, Livingston increased the boat’s speed and we zipped alongside the Steveston Jetty, which extends approximately five miles out and ends with an automated lighthouse. Along the way, sitting on the rocks and sandbars were countless eagles; I had not seen anything like this since I visited Haida Gwaii. Whoever would have thought this was on our ‘doorstep’? Trying hard to contain my enthusiasm, I was bracing myself for what I knew lay ahead.

The opening act for the star attraction were cormorants, which proudly perched on the rocks. Finally, with their barking announcing their presence, were the much anticipated California sea lions in all their glory. They were draped across the rocks, while others pointed their faces majestically up toward the sky. Spring is peak season for the migratory male sea lions, and Livingston estimated that there were fifty there that day; he had seen seventy the week before. It was a breathtaking scene which I exclaimed made me feel like I was visiting the Galapagos Islands. To have such a concentration of marine life within a five mile radius of where we live was an awe-inspiring moment. I realized that I may never be able to set foot in an aquarium again after seeing sea lions in their natural habitat. I don’t know if it was for my sake or for my children’s sake that Livingston asked if we should circle back to have a second look.

Now that we had experienced such natural wonders I contemplated if anything could top it. When we were heading back Livingston asked if we would like to explore the area further. I eagerly

took up his kind offer, and we motored along the Fraser River, and from this perspective I was able to view the south dyke trail where I frequently walk. We passed by Finn Slough and slowed down so Livingston could point out the boat named Eva circa 1937, which is one of the oldest of its kind with its classic Easthope gas engine. He suggested we go on top of the Massy Tunnel, something that I had never considered doing, but there we were, looking across each side of the river at the ventilation stacks, and imagining the tunnel full of traffic below us. Livingston took us inside the small harbour where B.C. Ferries are serviced. On our return we studied the south side of Shady Island where we saw the sandy and inviting beach, and got a closer peek at the eagle’s nest that can be seen as you walk along the boardwalk near Britannia Shipyard.

I felt a little bit sad coming back, knowing that the voyage was coming to an end. Joni Mitchell’s beautiful song Both Sides Now is playing inside my head at this moment, with a slight alteration of the lyrics, I’ve looked at Steveston from both sides now. It has altered my perception of where we live. Now I know what is on the other side of Shady Island, I know what the historical Paramount Cannery looks like from the water, I know the wonders of the Steveston Jetty, I now know what my children have seen, and I know I want to go back!

Like me, many people have simply never had the opportunity to explore the local waters. I encourage you to do so. Livingston says he can not count the number of times people have offered to volunteer for his company after returning to dock, for he is truly offering a unique service which is unlike any other in the area.

Steveston Eco Tours

Timothy’s Frozen Yogurt

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

Ice cream and a waterfront location are a marriage made in heaven, add in a blast of sunshine and you can’t ask for more as a food vendor.  Whether you are by the seaside, by a lake or in the case of Steveston, by the mouth of the Fraser River, “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream” is the anthem of ice cream lovers far and wide.

Tim Culling is the namesake behind the family owned business, Timothy’s Frozen Yogurt. He grew up in Richmond and moved to Vancouver as a young adult where he attended UBC and studied Bio Chemistry.  Living in Kitsilano, Culling was familiar with the popular frozen yogurt business, Frogurts.  In 1989 he and a friend cycled out to Steveston and spotted the Steveston Landing site which was under construction. They discussed how a frozen yogurt business would be a natural fit for this waterfront community. With youthful entrepreneurial spirit and enthusiasm on his side, Culling moved back to Richmond and opened Timothy’s Frozen Yogurt in December 1989.

Originally, a mere 300 square feet, Timothy’s Frozen Yogurt was located next door to a small dim sum restaurant.  When the restaurant closed Culling jumped at the opportunity to expand his business and gained 700 additional square feet. He originally sold pizza by the slice, hence the pizza oven that you see behind the counter, along with frozen yogurt, ice cream, baked goods and coffee.

In 1991 Culling met his wife and business partner, Linda Freeland. She had been working in early childhood education and opened Richmond’s first KinderCare program.  Juggling their two busy careers became increasingly difficult after their daughter was born, so Freeland started working at Timothy’s Frozen Yogurt to help synchronize their schedules around childcare. 

Freeland bakes in house all of the scones, nut bars, cranberry loaves and cookies.  Pizza is no longer on the menu however all of the other goodies remain. The success of Timothy’s Frozen Yogurt at Steveston Landing launched phase two of the business, the opportunity to open their second location at Garry Point in 2000.  Timothy’s Frozen Yogurt and Pajo’s Fish and Chips collaborated, knowing it would be advantageous to have the two complementary businesses operate side by side. Aptly, in this fishing village, the size of Timothy’s Frozen Yogurt at Garry Point is a small 200 square foot location, akin to working on a small boat.  Their menu is the same as the Steveston Landing location, however the hours are weather dependent and the kiosk is open only during the summer months from lunch until dusk.

Their most popular ice cream flavour is double chocolate fudge followed closely by hedgehog, and the homemade waffle cones keep people coming back for more. During the summer months Timothy’s Frozen Yogurt employees fifteen staff members. Last year was the busiest summer ever for both locations. Culling attributes this to the prolonged spring that we experienced and people jumped at the opportunity to enjoy the sunny days when they appeared.  Evenings are always a busy time of day when locals’ pop out after dinner for an ice cream and stroll along the boardwalk.

Timothy’s Frozen Yogurt is open year round; in fact Christmas is the only day of the year that the business is closed. During the quieter winter months Culling and Freeland enjoy travelling and leave their manager and staff in charge. One of their favourite destinations is Costa Rica.  He truly appreciates being able to live and work in the same community and pointed to his bike parked outside as his primary method of transportation.

While I was at the Steveston Landing location, three regulars dropped in.  Culling and Freeland informed me that the trio have been customers for 22 years, and like clock work, almost every day at 11 a.m., they show up for their morning coffee and social time together.  The group of loyal customers is fondly nicknamed ‘Potter’s Posse’ after one of their friends, Mr. Potter, who has since passed away.
This week lovely warm weather has blown into Steveston and is providing a sneak peek of the summer months ahead.  Whether you need a break from flying a kite, basking in the rays, going for an evening cycle, or are craving a little pick me up treat as you stroll along the boardwalk, a stop at this Steveston institution is a must, after all, every once in a while we all scream for ice cream.

Timothy’s Frozen Yogurt
Steveston Landing, 104-3800 Bayview Street
and Garry Point Park

Who Doesn’t Love a Treasure Hunt?

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

Living in Steveston Village brings great joy with the endless array of wonderful parks, playgrounds, bike trails, walking trails, beaches, shops, parades, markets and community programs, yet there may come a point where you are looking for something new. Perhaps you have taken your kids to every nearby park dozens of times, or walked your dog down every path in town, or visited every coffee shop so often that you know each menu off by heart.  If you are looking for something new to try locally then I recommend geocaching!

We discovered geocaching by accident. My kids were clambering about the bird-watching tower on the Steveston boardwalk, when one of them emerged from a hidey-hole with a plastic container. “Congratulations!” read a note on the inside of the container lid “You have found a geocache.” The note instructed us to open the container, sign the log book inside, and help ourselves to one of the treasures within – but only if we left a treasure of our own as a replacement. The note also included a request that we return the geocache to the exact spot we found it, so that other hunters could find it as well. It also shared a website – – which is where we learnt all about what was to become our new favourite family pastime.

Geocaching is a worldwide treasure hunt. Players hide caches around the globe, then post the GPS coordinates on the geocaching website so others can find the caches. Many geocaches are boxes which contain log books and treasures; others are small magnetic keyholders or film canisters, which are only big enough for a small roll of paper for the finders to sign. Some geocaches contain trackable items, whose journeys around the globe are mapped on the geocaching website. Caches can be anywhere, in hollow trees, under bridges, inside pipes, on mountains, on beaches, in forests, on busy streets – wherever someone can think to hide them. There are even caches underwater, where only scuba divers can reach them.  One of the trickiest geocaches we have ever found was disguised as an electrical box under a bridge. It didn’t help that it was placed next to a phenomenal frog-filled pond, which distracted my children to such an extreme that we’re lucky we ever got them out of the pond and home at the end of the day.

As of last count, there are almost 1.8 million geocaches hidden around the world, and over five million geocachers out there, hiding and seeking. Most geocaches are pretty straightforward, but some are extremely creative. There’s a geocache on Granville Island that requires you to visit six different points on the island and piece together clues at each stage in order to get to the next one. There are geocaches that require you to team up with geocachers in up to five other countries in order to amass enough clues to find the geocache hidden in your neighbourhood. Richmond is home to a five-stage cache, Captain Midnight’s Cipher, which will have you decoding clues around the entire city before finally getting to the final cache.

Steveston is a geocaching hotspot, with 18 caches hidden between London Heritage Farm and Garry Point. There are dozens more along the dyke heading both north and east from the village. Once you’ve found all the local caches, there are more caches in Richmond and hundreds scattered throughout the Lower Mainland. Every geocaching trip is a great excuse to discover a new park, playground or hiking route. It’s also a way to reconnect with old, familiar places. Finding the cache often plays a minor role to the journey itself, and the time spent discovering a new site. You never look at a park the same way once you know that there is a hidden secret in it.

One geocaching practice my family always adheres to is that of “Cache In, Trash Out”. This is a popular way to enrich the standard geocache adventure. We bring garbage bags with us, and clean up the terrain as we go along. Many long hikes are dotted with two or three caches, and as we hike, we pick up wrappers and pop cans and any other garbage we can find. The family member who clears the most trash as we reach the caches gets to pick their prize first. Another way we enhance the geocaching experience is by teaching our kids how to use a proper compass, and having them use the coordinates listed on the website to find the cache without the use of a GPS.

Geocaching is becoming progressively more popular. Scout troops now have geocaching badges, the Steveston Community Centre has held pre-teen geocaching events, and it seems that more and more people are in the know. On a busy day along the Steveston boardwalk, it is not uncommon to see visitors glued to their GPS trackers, walking slowly up and down near a geocache site, and glancing furtively around to determine the best time to remove the cache without alerting the ‘muggles’, or non-players, to where the cache is. Steveston geocachers are particularly thoughtful with their hides, and often take the opportunity to write about the rich history of the village when posting their hides on the website. 

We’ve only found a fraction of the geocaches out there, but we keep finding more every time we head out as a family. Some of our favourites include Walk the Plank – right here in Steveston, and The Troll Under the Bridge, near Grandma’s house on Vancouver Island. We’ve found geocaches on family trips to Italy and France, and camping trips around BC. This summer we hope to finally tackle the four caches hidden on Shady Island, right across from the Steveston waterfront. We’ve been investigating the land bridge and figuring out the tides, and hope to find all four caches in a single trip. But the idea of being trapped on the little island overnight is a little unnerving for some members of our family. Luckily we have a friend with a canoe on standby for the big rescue if necessary. It is just another Steveston adventure waiting to happen.

Zoë Lee lives in Steveston with her husband, their three children and three cats.  They moved here seven years ago for the stroller friendly, pancake-flat terrain, and stayed for the parades. She has an MBA with a focus on Leadership and Organizational Change Management, which is the ideal degree for any stay-at-home mom.

The Arts Connection is Expanding!

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

Families are leading increasingly busy lives often with two parents working, while at the same time attempting to juggle multiple activities for their children. The Arts Connection’s exciting new facility, opening in September, will help simplify things for families on the run.  The performing arts division, which includes private music instruction and dance classes, will join the Renaissance Kids Early Learning Centre on No. 2 Road. It will now be possible to find all of these services at one location.

The Arts Connection’s programs were all under one roof when the business first opened 23 years ago in the old Steva Theatre on First Avenue, however, the programs were so successful that it became necessary to spread out and seek additional facilities to hold classes.  Owner and founder, Linda Shirley, dreamt of bringing it all back together again in one location.  Her dream to provide a hub for educational and arts-related programs in one location will soon come true, with the expansion into three additional warehouse units at the No. 2 Road location.

Always searching for innovative ways to service Richmond families, Shirley recently announced that along with the expansion a new and innovative Before and After School Program will be offered, making it possible for students to take dance classes, visual arts and yoga in the morning prior to school, and from 3-6pm daily. Parents will be pleased to know that a convenient bus service will be offered to and from Steveston area schools in addition to a catered hot breakfast and healthy afternoon snack, all for a very affordable price.

With professional music studios on site it will be possible for children’s private music lessons to be conveniently scheduled.  The newly expanded location will also include a 1600 square foot professional dance studio, beautifully appointed music studios, classrooms for the Renaissance Kids Academy  and 12 more Renaissance Baby spaces.

A professional pottery studio and visual arts studio will make it possible for children and adults to learn new skills or expand on existing ones under the guidance of a professional potter and qualified visual arts instructors. 

Research attests to the valuable experiences gained from seniors and children working together.  Living in such a rich multicultural community, many children must travel far afield to see their grandparents.  Shirley believes that creating activities where seniors can interact with children alleviates loneliness for the adults, and fosters respect and life lessons for the children. Plans are underway to incorporate high quality programming for seniors that will occasionally include interactive activities with children through performances and visual arts activities.

Shirley’s extensive work with families has helped her see that a child’s success can be affected by serious illness, the passing of a parent or grandparent, loss of a pet, separation and divorce, job loss or substance abuse issues. In addition, increasingly children are faced with learning challenges or require additional support. The Arts Connection’s new facility will provide access to professional services such as a speech therapist, behavioural therapist, and family counsellor.

This will be The Arts Connection’s flagship location as it begins to branch out and open new Renaissance Kids Centres throughout other parts of the Lower Mainland, the first being a new location in Tsawwassen, which is set to open in September. 

Shirley, who still successfully teaches piano, has some busy months ahead as she winds up the season with recitals, competitions, exams, dance performances and kindergarten graduation.  Soon after, she will move on to packing, organizing the move and supervising two major building renovations.  She has no holidays planned anytime soon, but the smile on her face indicates she doesn’t mind!  She derives great pleasure from the little ones who pop their heads into her office to say “hi”, from former students who call to say “Remember me…I’m married and have a child now.  Can you give her piano lessons?” and from sitting in the audience at Gateway Theatre and seeing all of the dancers on stage…and if you look closely you will see the tears in her eyes.

The Arts Connection
1 – 12491 No. 2 Road

Grand Opening of Steveston Visitor Centre

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

Steveston’s New Visitor Centre is Open Year Round!
You are invited to Steveston on Saturday June 23, 2012 to celebrate Tourism Richmond’s grand opening of the new permanent Visitor Centre located inside the Steveston Museum.

It’s a Canadian tradition to welcome new neighbours to the community with a slice of tasty pie and a warm “hello”. Come by and sample some of the city’s best pies as dozens of local restaurants and bakeries compete in the 1st Annual Richmond Perfect Pie Contest – with complimentary pie tastings for everyone! A panel of local celebrity judges (including Lindsay the Richmond Foodie Blogger) will judge each pie on its taste, presentation and creativity. This is sure to be one delicious event!

Don’t miss the excitement at the new Tourism Richmond Visitor Centre located at 3811 Moncton Street.

• Enjoy free horse and carriage rides – 11:00 am to 2:00 pm
• Ribbon cutting ceremony  – 11:30am
• Richmond Perfect Pie Contest – 12:00 noon
• Complimentary pie tasting –12:15 pm*
• Free passes to the Gulf of Georgia Cannery
  National Historic Site*
• Family friendly entertainment and more!

In addition to the year round visitor services where guests can get information and book accommodation and attractions, the Steveston Museum building will continue to host the post office, plus new services to send a fax, email, scan or copy. Now open 7 days a week to conveniently serve you.

*Limited amounts, whiles supplies last.

Bullhead Derby

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

The Steveston Salmon Festival kicks off on Sunday, June 24th with the annual Bullhead Derby hosted by the Richmond Golden Rods and Reels Society. Pack your lawn chairs, fishing rods and tackle and head to Garry Point Park in Steveston for a fun, family event. The Bullhead Derby is open to kids 12 and under and seniors 65+. Everyone is welcome to come and cheer on the fishers! Registration starts at 9:00am, and the derby opens at 10:00am until noon. There are lots of prizes available to be won. Details

Steveston Salmon Festival

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

67th Annual Steveston Salmon Festival
The 2012 Steveston Salmon Festival – “Canada’s biggest little birthday party” – is looking forward to
celebrating our country’s 145th birthday with a great community get together from sunrise to sunset on
Sunday, July 1st!

The Steveston Salmon Festival is organized by volunteers to honour Canada Day, and the diverse
culture of our community. This year the Festival will include all your favourite attractions including the
pancake breakfast, Canada Day parade and our famous salmon bake, which last year served over
2,300 plates of fresh wild sockeye salmon expertly cooked over open alder wood fire pits. It is a fun
filled day of live entertainment, complete with dance and musical acts, trade and craft shows, and
many activities for children.

Other features include the Japanese cultural show, food fair and a youth rock fest featuring local

The day begins at 6:30 a.m. with a pancake breakfast. The Children’s Bike Parade takes off at 9:30
a.m., the Kajaks Salmon Run at 9:50a.m. then the big Canada Day Parade at 10 a.m.
The Steveston Salmon Festival is bringing back mechanical amusement rides after a three-year
absence, plus a selection of inflatables. Since July 1st falls on a weekend this year, the carnival rides
will be open both days – Saturday, June 30th and Sunday, July 1st – from noon to 5:00pm. Unlimited
ride wrist bands are on sale in advance starting June 1st at the Steveston Community Centre for $20
per day.

Juno Award winning musician Bill Bourne will  lead the Main Stage.  Also featured is Richmond-based Stone Poets, rising star Joshua Hyslop, and Fresh Groove, a hip hop dance crew who are hot off their appearance on “Canada’s Got Talent”, plus local seniors drumming circle and Zumba demonstration.

For complete details including a schedule of events, parade map, road closure notice and parking information, or to find out how you can volunteer, please visit the Steveston Salmon Festival website at

4111 Moncton Street, Richmond, BC V7E 3A8
Tel: 604-238-8080 Fax: 604-718-8096
Salmon Festival Tel: 604-238-8094

Richmond Maritime Festival

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Ahoy! Celebrate and explore the ninth annual Richmond Maritime Festival

Join Richmond in exploring its maritime heritage with the ninth annual Richmond Maritime Festival, a three-day celebration of nautical and natural splendour taking place from August 10 to 12, 2012 at Britannia Heritage Shipyard in Steveston.

Following the spectacular crowd-pleasing success of last summer’s festival, expect exciting all- ages entertainment throughout the site, interactive displays and a lively atmosphere sure to create a unique and memorable experience for each visitor.

Britannia Heritage Shipyard, one of the most stunning and natural settings in Metro Vancouver, provides a key link to the historical stories that will be told at this three-day event. Learn rich, local lore as Britannia Heritage Shipyard’s national historic site comes to life.

Don’t miss the following main attractions:

  • Dozens of beautiful, wooden boats
  • The Chinese Bunkhouse exhibit which depicts stories of Chinese cannery workers whofought adversity and discrimination with remarkable courage
  • Five different buildings on the waterfront that tell stories of work and play at Britanniafrom 1910–1930
  • Interactive activities, demos and displays including origami and model boat making andknot tying
  • Pirate hats and swords, face painting, tattoos and puzzle games
  • Live music, artisans, storytelling, dancers and much moreThis year’s festival will kick off with a special celebration of the many cultures that played a role in Richmond’s maritime heritage on Friday, August 10. The celebration will showcase elements of First Nations, Celtic, Japanese, Chinese and other cultures.

    The Maritime Festival is free for all-ages and runs August 10 to 12, 2012 at Britannia Heritage Shipyard in Richmond’s historic Steveston Village.

    For more information, visit