Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Historic Britannia Shipyard


Britannia Shipyard with flowersWe’re water people.  Drawn to the water – primarily the ocean, although a pristine lake or snow fed rushing river will do in a pinch!  This tendency often leads us to beaches, boardwalks, seawalls, docks, shipyards, boatyards, locks, fish ladders and marinas.  Like bloodhounds we get a whiff of that distinctive briny, fresh, ocean aroma and we are off and running, following the scent to the water’s edge.  When we heard about Richmond’s historic seaport along the banks of the Frasier River we succumbed to instinct.
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The Britannia Shipyard is on Canada's National Historic register and is staffed by volunteers and city workers who fight against time and the elements to preserve British Columbia’s oldest seaport.   The seaport’s plank boardwalks were the “sidewalks” of the day for an entire town built on stilts.  From the 1880’s to 1900 Salmon thrived in the Frasier River and Chinese, Japanese, European and First Nations people made a living catching, canning and exporting them around the world.  They built homes, shops, schools, churches and canneries and lived their daily life all above the changing tidal activity of the mud flats.


Homes built on stilts at Britannia Shipyard, British Columbia



Kaisei ship in port at Britannia Shipyard and at sea with full sails
The day we visited the “Kaisei” was in port for the annual SeaPort Festival.  At 151 feet long, with two huge masts, she is an impressive vessel.   Crewed by volunteers from 26 nations, she’s visited 15 countries on peace and goodwill missions.  Sounds like a great volunteer gig to us – where do we sign up?