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Cruise the Historic Cannery Channel

Wooden boat carrying passengers on the green-gray waters of the Fraser River

Explore the history of the communities bordering the mouth of the Fraser River during a two-hour tour on the Gikumi, a west coast wooden work boat built in 1954.

The trip begins at the Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site, an 8-acre heritage site featuring re-created workers’ homes, duplexes, and bunkhouses from the early 20th century on its land-side, and wooden boats, former shipyards and net loft, over water. People came from around the world to live along the Fraser River to find work in the salmon fishing, canning and boat building industries that shaped Steveston.

The experience begins with a brief guided tour through the Britannia Shipyard building, among the sounds of clanging tools and the put-put of engines as visitors pass through the shipyard workshop displays.

The Gikumi awaits on the floating docks behind the shipyard building, as the guide shares its notable history, from its workboat roots as a pilot boat and freight carrier for the forestry industry, to its later life as the first whale watching boat in BC, and carrying famous passengers such as President George HW Bush and British Prime Minister John Major.

During the voyage, a heritage interpreter provides guided narration, including the history of the canning and fishing industries in Steveston, and the rich and complex history of its Richmond’s various islands and past residents. See the Fishermen’s Memorial at Garry Point Park a memorial to those in the commercial fishing industry whose lives were lost at sea, and find the hidden final resting spot of Sunny Island, an abandoned former fish packing boat only visible during low tide, which serves as a reminder of how the Canadian government sold off the homes, possessions, and boats of Japanese Canadians during their internment in the Second World War.

Between these stories, wave to onlookers and look for migrating shore birds and wildlife including seals, leaping salmon, and perhaps even an elusive white sturgeon along the route. Bring binoculars to give yourself the advantage to make these first sightings. Enjoy a snack of local blueberries served with a whipped cream topping during the return leg, after having toured by the communities of Ladner, Westham Island, and London Landing.

There is something for everyone on the Voyage of the Gikumi – history, nature, and scenic beauty or just a chance to enjoy a relaxing cruise on the water. There are limited sailings remaining in August, including during the Richmond Maritime Festival on August 26 & 27, 2023. Book your voyage now!