Early History of Churches in the Steveston Area
The early settlers came to Lulu Island around
1861. Among them were A.E. Sharpe, Hugh McRoberts and
The early ministers, both Methodist and Presbyterian, who
were stationed in New Westminster, considered the entire
area to be their parish.
The Rev. Robert Jamieson, a Presbyterian, came to New
Westminster in 1862 and served there until 1878. It is
recorded that he often preached to the Richmond
community. Likewise, the Methodist missionaries
made occasional visits and they were instrumental in having
a small church building erected about 1870. This was
opened by Rev. Cornelius Bryant who was stationed in New
When the new wharf was built at London's Landing in the fall
of 1885, Rev. James A. Wood, the Methodist minister
stationed in Ladner, began holding services in some of the
homes. By the middle of 1887, Rev. Wood had succeeded
in getting a small church built at London's Landing. This
was built by the Methodists and became a Union Church used
by all denominations.
In 1887 Rev. Wood was succeeded by Rev. W.B. Seccombe.
The following year the Methodist Conference separated
Richmond from Ladner and stationed a minister at Eburne to
serve Richmond and London's Landing. In 1890 Rev.
James A. Wood returned to serve for the next thee
years. Services continued in the London's Landing
church. In 1894 Rev. Alfred Eli Green was hired by the
Richmond Church. He lived in the parsonage, conducted
services at the North Arm Church and traveled to Steveston,
holding services at the Steveston Methodist Church at the
corner of 2nd Avenue and Chatham Street.
Prior to this, William Herbert Steves, eldest son of Manoah,
built the Steveston Opera House as an entertainment centre
to facilitate all types of public gatherings. During
the summer fishing season the Methodists began holding
revival meetings on the street and in the Opera House.
In 1893 Rev. Alfred E. Green was instrumental in the
building of the Steveston church. Because of his
interest in the Indians he gave special attention to
Steveston where many Indians were working in the fishing
Most of the Japanese fishermen who came to Steveston and
remained were from a fishing village in Japan called Mio
Mura. By 1896 there were a few hundred in Steveston;
practically all were men.
In 1892 Rev. Saddakichi Kawabe, an ordained minister,
visited B.C. and conducted the first Christian service in
the Japanese language. Through his zeal and contact
with the Japanese people, the mission to bring the gospel to
their fellow Japanese began.
The operation of a hospital during the fishing season for
the Japanese in 1894 was really the beginning of an
organized Christian work in Steveston. From its
beginning the cost of maintaining the hospital was borne by
volunteer contributions from the fishermen and their
friends. By the middle of 1897 support for the hospital was
badly needed. A royal Japanese visitor, His Imperial
Highness Arisugawa, who was en route from England, was
touched by the story of the hospital in Steveston and made a
generous gift of $200.00. Later, the hospital came
under the responsibility of the Fishermen's Association. The
Japanese Mission Church was founded in 1897. The church was
located across from the hospital at No. 1 Road and Chatham
Through all the years of the Japanese mission, the Japanese
Christians were a minority group. The amalgamation of the
English and Japanese congregations took place on Sunday,
February 15, 1953. It was then decided to bring all
activities of Steveston United Church under one roof.
A pattern of church life established by Rev. Green continued
through the succeeding years with regular services, a
formation of a Sunday School and extra staff workers on hand
during the fishing season.
To summarize, the ministers on the Richmond circuit were:
1885-1887 Rev. James A. Wood
1887-1888 Rev. William B. Seccombe
1888-1890 Rev. Samuel J. Thompson
1890-1893 Rev. James A. Wood
1893-1894 Rev. Samuel J. Thompson
1894-1897 Rev. Alfred Eli Green
The ministers who succeeded Rev. Green on the Richmond
1897-1898 Rev. W. Baer
1898-1902 Rev. Arthur N. Miller
1902-1904 Rev. Elihu Manuel
1904-1907 Rev. Thomas W. Hall
1907-1911 Rev. Samuel J. Green
1911-1912 Rev. Elihu Manuel
1912-1916 Rev. John H. Wright
1916-1919 Rev. George B. Ridland
1919-1924 Rev. John J. Nixon
1924-1925 Rev. J. Wesley Miller
The only remaining record of the Methodist church is the
minute book of the Steveston Ladies Aid from
1913-1925. These minutes indicate that the ladies
assumed the responsibility for care of the church building,
painting, replacing windows, hiring the janitor, providing
stoves, purchasing fuel and the furnishing of the Mission
House. They played a major role in keeping the church
South Arm and Steveston became one charge under Rev. A.
MacKay who lived in Steveston. The arrangement became
effective when the United Church of Canada came into being
on June 10, 1925 without friction or dissent.
In Steveston the little Presbyterian church was closed and
the Methodist church used for all services as well as Sunday
School. The coming together in Steveston of all
factions was a great forward step: together under one roof,
under one spirit, under one Lord -- Jesus Christ.
The Japanese Mission
(prior to 1914, all lay workers)
Rev. Sada Kichi Kawabe of San Francisco visited.
1894-1895 Matutaro Okamoto and Koichi Ichu
Rev. Goro Kaburagi visited.
1897-1901 Ukichi Oyama
1902-1903 Paul Ranzo Kishimoto
1903-1904 Gensaku Nakagama
1904-1909 Eichi Kawabara
1909-1911 Akima Kato
1911-1912 Eichi Kawabara
1912-1913 Guichi Suga
1914-1915 Rev. Chiyoji Shoikawa
1916-1922 Rev. Soji Saito
1922-1925 Rev. Yoshinsuke Yoshioka