Richmond is the fourth largest city in British Columbia – Canada’s westernmost province – and is located just south of the City of Vancouver. The city’s official motto is “Island City by Nature” and it couldn’t be truer. Away from the urban center, there are many great places to explore nature; the city is made up of four major islands and surrounded by water on all sides. Iona Beach Park is a great place to view this nature, walking the dike along the edge of the river, where you can see fishing boats and logs tied up along the riverbanks of the North Arm. It’s a great place to walk out on the sand during low tide.
It is home to the countries largest Asian-Canadian population and as a result, has some of the best cuisines from Asia, from Sushi to Dim Sum. This is the foodie’s dream destination. The city center is located mostly along Number 3 road and spreads out density-wise from here. In 2009, the Canada Line – part of the Lower Mainland’s Skytrain mass transit network – was completed, connecting the Airport with Richmond Center and downtown Vancouver. This has made visiting Richmond much easier, especially on a day trip from the big city.
Richmond was originally a smaller fishing and farming district, as the Fraser River Delta’s fertile land made a great place for agriculture. Today, there are still many expanses of farmland located east of Richmond city, but the population of the city has grown exponentially in the last few decades. It was “founded” as a city in 1879, making it 7 years older than Vancouver itself.
There are lots of things to keep you occupied in Richmond. Most visitors are first introduced to Vancouver in Richmond, as it is home to Vancouver International Airport – one of the busiest airports in Canada. There are a few significant buildings located in Richmond; the city hosted the Olympic Speed Skating in 2010 at the Richmond Olympic Oval and there is the largest Buddhist Temple in North America. Once the sun goes down head to the Night Market close to the Skytrain Station at Bridgeport to sample the city’s International Flavour.
Richmond – the “Island City by Nature” – is surrounded by water on all sides; the Georgia Straight to the west and The Fraser River on all other sides. Along the riverbanks and the shoreline of the Georgia Straight, there are many great places to escape into nature. As the city is built on the river delta, it is continuing to grow as sediment from the river deposits on the edges of the city. The wetlands and tidal flats are great for birdwatching.
Two of my favourite places to watch the sunset in the Lower Mainland are here; in Steveston Village at Garry Point and Iona Beach Park, the latter is a hidden gem located north of the airport. Iona Beach, especially during low tide, is a fascinating place to explore. There are several long walks and trails here, either along the long jetty that hangs out to the south or along the banks of the North Arm of the Fraser River. When the tide is out, you can explore the vast mud flat without much effort.
Steveston is probably the most popular spot for visitors to Richmond, as the small village has retained its charm, making it an incredible place to spend the afternoon as a tourist. Steveston is home to the Gulf of Georgia Cannery, a historic building built in 1894 which is now a museum. Fishing boats still call Steveston home, and its possible to take whale watching tours or enjoy fresh seafood from some of the many restaurants here, including Vancouver’s best fish and chips. Wander to Garry Point located to the west to watch the sunset over the Georgia Straight.
Next time you’re in Vancouver, venture a little further south and visit Richmond. You won’t be disappointed.