Monday, 26 December 2011

A Piece of History

Its been forever since I have written a post here. This last year has been a challenge and a half. The short version is that I have to leave this marina and have nowhere else to put the house. I have spent the last nine months looking for a new berth. I called every marina in BC. I went up and down the river knocking on strangers doors asking if I could tie up on their property. Things were looking very bleak indeed. Every time someone would say something like "what about Mission", or "what about Pitt River", I would cringe inside. I knew I needed to find a place, but in my heart, I wanted the perfect place, not just any place, and not somewhere that was so far from my job.

Back in April, I got a job in historic Steveston. Its a beautiful little village right on the ocean. They have done a lot to preserve the fishing and cannery history that made up this town and I loved it there so much, I found myself not wanting to go home when I was finished work. One day, I went for a walk in the park and found a slough called Scotch Pond. It was a tongue of water dredged out at the back of the park and had a nice dock with fishing boats tied up to it. A large building on stilts stood at the back. There was a perfect sized space beside it, that would comfortably hold my house. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had found the place I wanted to live. Now how to make that happen?


One afternoon, I was talking to the baker that has the shop beside my clinic. He said he had been thinking about my dilemma and that I should contact a man named Harold Steves and ask him to help me. Harold's family was the founding family of Steveston and he has been a city councillor since the 1970's with an interest in saving farmland and all things historic relating to the maritime history surrounding Steveston. I had known that my house was in actuality an old net shed but never thought of using that fact to help me.

I spent days corresponding with the archives in Delta trying to track down the history of my building. I went out and spent an afternoon pouring over old documents and photos in the hope of unearthing some clues. I was able to trace it back to the 1920's when it was owned by a Japanese family named Tamaki. At that time it was on stilts in Delta across from the west end of Annicis Island. It was one of thousands of net sheds that lined the river at that time. Little did I know, but I had the last one left!

I sent Harold an impassioned plea, explaining my situation and describing the net shed. He was very excited to hear about the shed as there are none left like mine and it would indeed be an important part of a heritage display. It has taken some months but Harold was finally able to convince some of the city officials to come down and check out my place. They were pleasantly surprised at the good shape of the shed and seemed impressed with the renos that I had accomplished so far. They agreed it would be a shame to lose the building and to give them a few days to think about the best situation for everyone.

On the 19th of December a motion was passed at city council to try and find a spot for my home, Scotch Pond being the first choice. The proposal is to have my home tied up at the dock with an authentic, refinished japanese fishing boat tied up at the shed door. It would be used to show the usual set up of the fisherman from those times. Typically they would have stored their nets in one end of the building and had a few rooms up front to live in when not at sea.

One of my clients is Japanese and her Father was a fisherman in Steveston. She has her father-in-laws original bench that he used to sit at when repairing his nets. She has offered it to me to use as a display. The idea is to open one of the sling bay doors and close off a section of the house with a display of hanging nets and the work bench for people to see from the trail in the park. There will be a plaque and everything to describe what people are looking at. I will stay living in the house as a caretaker/security presence at the pond. In exchange I will leave the house to the city to continue to be used as a museum when I no longer have any use for it.

I am ecstatic! I couldn't imagine a better scenario for this place. I love history and antiques. I love Steveston. I wanted to use my home somehow as a showpiece for sustainable housing, recycling Reno's, living life as a settler and now it looks like I will accomplish all of that! The last hurdle is the fisherman's collective that holds the lease at Scotch Pond. If they agree to allow the shed in there, then it's a go. If you could say a prayer for me to allow that to happen, I would be forever grateful. I can't wait to move!

I know I haven't posted any pics of the place recently but even though my future was uncertain I have been moving forward with the reno's. The bathroom is seventy-five percent finished, and the sliding door has been installed into the massage room. A whole bunch of light fixtures have been installed and a lot of the wiring has been sorted out in general. I have been living with no power or water for three months so haven't been able to enjoy any of it but am hoping that all changes soon. Once I get settled and can finish things up, I will be posting lots of pics. I promise it is going to look awesome!

In the meantime here is a link to a beautiful photo essay of Steveston, I can't wait to see my place in one of these pictures.

This is the google view of Scotch Pond. I want to be in that big space beside the building at the back. Note the big park beside it, lots of fresh air to be had there :),-123.196177&spn=0.00521,0.013733&t=h&z=16&vpsrc=6

I found this  interesting information about Scotch Pond on the City of Richmond website:

Scotch Pond

General Information
Type of Resource: Landscape
Common Name (if different than official name):
Address: Garry Point Park
Neighbourhood (Planning Area Name): Steveston
Construction Date: Scott-Cdn Cannery 1899; Scotch Pond c.early 1950's
Current Owner: Municipal Government
Designated: Yes

Statement of Significance
Description of Site: Scotch Pond consists of a pond, originally a slough, dredged in the early 1950s and connected by a channel to the Strait of Georgia. Along with the pond are the remains of wooden boardwalk pilings which run directly along the south edge of the pond and were constructed in 1899 as part of the Scottish Canadian Cannery operation. The Pond is located on Garry Point Park in the tidal flats of Sturgeon Bank, on a line that is a western extension of Chatham Street.

Statement of Values: Scotch Pond’s heritage values include its historical associations, first with the use of the original slough at Garry Point as the location of a year round Musqueam Indian settlement until the late 1890’s, with the Scottish Canadian Cannery built by Malcolm and Windsor in 1899, with the Atagi Boatworks located at the head of the slough and operated until Japanese internment during World War II, and finally with the dredging operation undertaken in the 1950’s by the Canadian Fishing Company. Scotch Pond has value as an early and rare example of an industrial development and small community built away from the shoreline within an area of tidal flats, constructed entirely on wooden pilings, its only connection to the land a narrow wooden boardwalk.

Character Defining Elements: Key elements that define the heritage character of the site include: · The wooden pilings along the south edge of the pond which are the remains of the original connecting boardwalk from the Scottish Canadian Cannery to Steveston · The Scotch Pond as it exists today, including a small rectangular wooden building and wooden boat docks, which are used by the fishing industry through the Scotch Pond Heritage Co-operative · The natural landscape of the Sturgeon Banks tidal flats as a context for this heritage feature
History: The land in the vicinity of Scotch Pond has a long and interesting history. Garry Point was the location of a year round Musqueam Indian settlement, which increased in population during the eulachon and sturgeon migrations, the salmon season and berry gathering seasons. At the head of the slough, now Scotch Pond, the Musqueam maintained a burial ground. The Musqueam occupied this village until the late 1890’s . The Scottish-Canadian Cannery was built by Malcolm and Windsor in 1899, and was acquired by United Canneries of BC in that same year. As the Scottish-Canadian Salmon Packing Company it first operated in 1901, packing 48,433 cases of salmon. In 1915, a Mr. Graham purchased a half interest in the company and leased the lot, which he tried to sell in 1919 and again in 1923. The land was finally leased to the Canadian Fishing Company in 1925 who used the facility as a fishing station. The cannery was located on a slough in the tidal flats off Garry Point. The complex consisted of the cannery and associated outbuildings, decking and net racks, workers’ housing, and a boardwalk that commenced on the dyke at the west end of Chatham Street. All of the structures were built on pilings. The slough itself was known as a ‘pond’ because it provided safe wet moorage for fishing boats associated with the cannery. Historical photographs of the area at high tide make the cannery look as though it is floating at sea, attached to land by a thin boardwalk. The Atagi Boatworks was located at the head of the slough. Beginning operation in 1905, it was acquired by Mike David Boatworks in the 1940’s following internment of the Atagi family, then by a Mr. Takugaki, around 1949. The remains of the boatworks were removed from the site sometime in the mid-1970’s. The Canadian Fishing Company dredged the slough in the early 1950’s to provide additional safe wet moorage and net mending and storage space, mainly for gillnetters. Local fishermen co-operated to create one of the longest continuous net floats on the coast, with associated net sheds and wharf. Scotch Pond was also used as a swimming hole. Scotch Pond was purchased by the City of Richmond in 1989. A group of fishermen formed the ‘Scotch Pond Heritage Co-operative’ and now operate and manage a net float, net racks and net storage facility.
Architectural Significance
Architectural Style:

Building Type:

Name of Architect or Builder:

Design Features:

Construction Method:

Landscape Significance
Landscape Element: Scotch Pond, tidal flats, surrounding landscape

Design Style:

Designer / Creator:

Design Attributes: Historical photographs show the evolution of the landscape in the area of Scotch Pond as it has been shaped to serve the needs of the fishing and canning industries. The boardwalk to the Scottish Canadian Cannery was constructed across the tidal flats off the west side of Lulu Island along the approximate line of a slough channel. The cannery itself was constructed on an angle to take advantage of another slough channel which provided river access and moorage for fishing boats. When Scotch Pond was created, it followed these original natural and built patterns, using the original Scottish Canadian ‘pond’ as access into the larger, dredged ‘Scotch Pond’. Today these features are evidence of the interaction of people with the land for a purpose, and visually represent two layers: the subtle layer of the original pilings of the boardwalk, and the subsequent construction and use of Scotch Pond.

Construction Method: The boardwalk was constructed of wooden piles. The pond was created by dredging operations.

Alterations: Except for the boardwalk remnants, the Scottish Canadian Cannery has disappeared. The boardwalk pilings have been almost completely demolished, and exist merely as clues in the landscape. Scotch Pond as constructed in the 1950’s is still an important part of the landscape today, but the original slough that was the ‘pond’ for the cannery is no longer visible.

Original Location: Yes

Condition: The pilings and boardwalk remnants are in poor condition compared to the original. They are not obvious, yet when noticed they still manage to convey a sense of what existed there in the past.

Lost: No

Evaluated By: Denise Cook, BLA, PBD (Public History)

Date: Tuesday, January 15, 2002

Documentation: Documents Bauer, Joe. ‘Scotch Pond’ in Steveston Historical Guide, 1992. Bob Ransford, Heritage Advisory Commission. ‘Scottish Canadian Cannery Boardwalk Remnants and Pilings’, heritage information form, 1998. Bodnar, Diana. Report on Garry Point, Richmond, Department of the Provincial Secretary, Government of British Columbia, 1975. Location #6159, Richmond Archives. Clayton, Marilyn. Personal communication. Haig-Brown, Alan. ‘Scotch Pond Then and Now’, in The West Coast Fisherman, vol. 4, No. 1, July 1989, p.45. Ham, Leonard. Archaeological Heritage Resource Overview of Richmond, 1987. Heritage Advisory Commission sous-fonds, 1-3-13, Richmond Archives. Ralston, Keith H. BC Salmon Canneries, Provincial Archives, 1965, UBC Special Collections. Richmond Museum. “Garry Point Park Historical Walking Tour”, nd. Scotch Pond: A Proposal. Scotch Pond Steering Committee, 1900-1991. Stacey, Duncan. Steveston’s Cannery Channel: A Social History of the Fishing Community, prepared for the Township of Richmond, 1986, Richmond Public Library. Historical Photographs Photograph No. 2151 dated 1908, Vancouver Public Library. Photograph No. G-3492 dated 1927, BCARS. Scotch Pond 1949, Joe Bauer Collection/Richmond Museum. Scotch Pond 1952, Joe Bauer Collection/Richmond Museum. Scotch Pond 1954-55, Joe Bauer Collection/Richmond Museum. Location and Type of Plans Found Geological Survey of Canada, 1921. UBC Special Collections. Steveston BC. c.1895-1911. Richmond Archives Map Collection, Item #1985 132 12 and 13. Waterworks Atlas Map of Garry Point and western part of Steveston Townsite, 1936. Item #1991 40 21, Richmond Archives.

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  1. That is so wonderful. I've been to visit Steveston several times this year and just love it. Last time I stayed in the old hotel and had a wonderful time. I hope to come back again in January on one of my days off. - Margy

  2. I visited Scotch Pond last weekend. How are things going? Looks like a nice place. - Margy

  3. Just wondering if you have seen any photos of the boats built by Atagi Boat Works? I'm trying to track one down to use as a gift and am at a loss of where to start! Thanks.


Thank you so much for taking the time to leave me a comment, Rhianna

The Eclectic Ark