Happy 145th Birthday Canada! Ya look great.
In my experience, Canada Day celebrations are usually about sharing the many and diverse cultures within our country; this is done through food, music, and a blinding amount of red + white. This year I had the pleasure of partaking in Steveston’s Salmon Festival, which offered all of these things and more.
First off, I have to say this was one of the most well-organized, diverse, and engaging public celebrations I’ve ever attended, and the festival’s organizers and many volunteers should be proud.
It was also an incredibly friendly day; though I headed down to Steveston by myself, I never once felt alone. People were welcoming, talkative, and happy to share their Canadian spirit – like this wonderful family with whom I shared lunch!
Though the heart of Salmon Fest takes place in and around the Steveston Community Centre, festivities are held throughout the town. The day begins with a pancake breakfast put on by Scouts, followed by a well-attended parade down Moncton Street.
Then there’s endless food to be eaten; a craft fair, art exhibit, and trade show; rides and activities for kids; a stage with live music; demonstrations at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Center; Tall Ships to board as part of the city’s Ships to Shore event; and much, much more. I was wildly impressed by the day’s variety, thoughtful planning, and sheer number of activities. You could even get homemade pie baked by ladies from a local church! I just wanted to wrap this day up and put it in my pocket, so very wholesome and lovely it was.
Here are some highlights, and of course I’ll start with the food:
In addition to businesses offering breakfast, lunch, and snacks, there were also food vendors selling burgers, corn dogs, popcorn, freshly-squeezed lemonade, sausages, Filipino BBQ, Jamaican jerk chicken, baked goods, kosher bagels, chow mein, salmon, and more.
I started the day off with some oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookies from the Cookie Queen (I hadn’t eaten lunch yet but just couldn’t help myself), then tried the chow mein and salmon. These are two of the most well-known foods here on Canada Day.
The chow mein tent is an incredible operation; all of the food is prepped a day in advance by a crew of 50 ladies, then fried up fresh for thousands of hungry visitors on July 1st.
The festival’s famous salmon BBQ is also a sight; put on for the last 18 years, volunteers cook 1200 pounds of wild salmon over an open alderwood fire.
They charge $15/plate, with all the proceeds going to the Community Center. Here’s the head organizer, Jim, explaining how they do it:
After satisfying my appetite, I explored the craft fair, trade show, and garden contest. People enter the best of their garden beds, from roses to pin cherries, carrots, and beans. Here are some award winning peas! Such perfectly green, globular beauties.
One of my favourite parts of the day was the Japanese Canadian Cultural Center. Immigrants from Japan have a long and important history in Steveston, and this centre is vital to preserving their legacy. It put on a number of activities and exhibits, and I got to marvel at bonsai trees,
watch a judo demonstration,
and watch part of a koto performance:
Later in the day I wandered down water to see the Ships to Shore event put on by the City of Richmond.
Each boat has varied and interesting histories, and it was great to view them from the dock of a such a sea-worthy town.
I returned home a happy, tired, and proud Canadian. Thanks to everyone who made the Salmon Festival such an outstanding event!