Steveston’s Britannia site could become a visitor center

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There were once 16 houses like the Japanese Duplex in Steveston where families working in canneries lived.

A historic building on Steveston’s Cannery Row could be given a $6 million revamp.

The Japanese Duplex, at the western end of Britannia Dockyards, is offered as a visitor center with interpretive exhibits, retail space as well as laundry and showers for those mooring at the docks.

A report from city staff noted that operating costs could rise at the site, but that would be offset by retail sales and mooring revenue.

Murchison House No. 1 was previously used as a visitor center, but due to its small size and location it was unsuccessful and has not been used for this purpose for four years.

Of the 10 original buildings at the Britannia shipyard, only the First Nations dormitory and the Japanese duplex have not been restored.

The 3,000-square-foot, two-story Japanese duplex was likely used to support Phoenix Cannery operations.

There was a cluster of 16 similar buildings used by Japanese families working in the canneries. It is the only surviving building of this type on the Britannia site.

The town also considered renovating the First Nations dormitory to highlight the role that Aboriginal peoples have played in Steveston’s fishing industry.

The proposal for the Japanese duplex will be discussed at the city council’s parks, recreation and culture committee meeting next week.

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