12451 Trites Road, Richmond, BC.
Statement of Significance
Description of Site: The Murakami Residence is included in the Britannia Shipyard site located on the foreshore of Steveston Channel. The Residence is part of a grouping of structures on this site, and is a very simple, rectangular structure with a post frame and a gable roof. It is sited with the gable end towards the site’s boardwalk, and is adjacent to the Murakami boatworks.
Statement of Values: The heritage significance of the Murakami Boatworks lies in its historical connection to the development of the boatbuilding industry, and to the role played by Japanese immigrants in the history of the boatbuilding, canning, and fishing industries in Richmond, as well as in the evolution of Steveston. In the late 1800’s, many fishermen were Japanese who had come to Steveston in search of work. The building is also significant in its use as a residence for Japanese-Canadian boatbuilders next door to the boatworks operated by the same family. The simple structural style and design of the building reflect its use as a cannery residence. The re-created garden has significance in its association with the Murakami family, and with the pattern of domestic gardens planted by Japanese families in this time period.
Character Defining Elements: Key elements that define the heritage character of the site include: · The location of the boatworks as part of the Britannia Shipyard cluster of structures around and along the historic boardwalk · Design elements of the Residence including a rectangular plan with a post frame, the cladding of horizontal shiplap and board and batten siding, the central door flanked by two windows in the south gable end, and the multi-paned wooden sash windows · The fruit, flower and vegetable garden adjacent to the building.
History: The Murakami family lived in this building from the late 1920’s until their internment in 1942. It has been documented as being vacant in 1946 and used as a net shed and gear storage building in 1960. Its original use and its builder are not known, nor can its construction date be confirmed. Early plans show a slough to the west of the building, which means that the building was possibly accessibly by boat. It may have been part of an early fishing camp in conjunction with the slough and the original location of the First People’s House. There is some physical evidence to suggest that the building was a multiple dwelling, and that it may have been reduced in size. When the Murakami family lived here the home was divided into six rooms by a central hallway. Although located on property owned by the Phoenix Cannery, the building is included in the Britannia Shipyard site, which was dedicated to Richmond for heritage park purposes in the late 1980’s. The Murakami Residence building has been reconstructed on a new foundation in its original footprint in conjunction with park construction. The Murakami Residence building is part of a visitor’s complex in conjunction with the Boatworks next door.