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New database reveals fascinating stories of Richmond place names

Don Fennell   Sep-26-2017

Herbert Steves (son of Manoah and Martha Steves) and a horse-drawn cart carrying his family (circa 1900).

Photo courtesy City of Richmond Archives


Gilbert Road is a busy Richmond thoroughfare, and Lam Drive a roundabout near Quilchena Golf and Country Club. But there’s much more to the stories of who the streets are named after.

Gilbert Road, for example, is named after Jasper Frederick Gilbert who moved to Marpole with his wife, Sarah Elizabeth, in 1912, from Kimberley, Ontario. The couple moved to Richmond about 1925 and farmed land on No. 5 Road (Bath Farm).

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Lam, meanwhile, pays homage to Chung Ling Lam. A native of China, he became a naturalized Canadian in Victoria in 1884 and opened Hong Wo store in Steveston in 1895. He was also a cannery contractor and president of the Lam Society, Chinese Farmers Association and Chinese Benevolent Society.

Their stories are featured in a new addition to the City of Richmond’s website uncovering the stories behind the names of nearly 500 local landmarks through the new Name Origins online database.

“As we celebrate Canada’s legacy this year, we are proud to honour the many individuals whose stories and lives helped shape Richmond’s identity,” said Mayor Malcolm Brodie. “As a community with great historic roots, this database provides a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the uniqueness of Richmond and the stamp of urban development.”

For more than 20 years, Friends of the Richmond Archives volunteers and City of Richmond Archives staff have dedicated countless hours researching the name origins of streets, areas, and landmarks in Richmond.Most of the name entries in the database are accompanied by a Google map which shows the current location. The work is ongoing and the database will continue to be updated as new discoveries are made.

Research into Richmond’s fallen servicemen is included in the Name Origins Database, as well as in the “We Will Remember Them” website launched earlier this year.

Launching of the new database online was made possible through the Richmond Canada 150 Community Celebration Grant Allocations.


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