Vancouver may be a bustling metropolis but it’s also a gateway for Pacific salmon. The city boasts a bevy of hatcheries to support the population of salmon that navigate through urban streams. The glass walls of Capilano River Hatchery give visitors a salmon’s-eye view of their journey. On Saturday, Oct. 21 meet at the hatchery for the Coho Commotion where you can witness the migration and take a look at salmon specimens up close. If you’re in Maple Ridge, head to the Bell-Irving Hatchery in Kanaka Creek Regional Park on Sunday, Oct. 22 for the Return of the Salmon event. Watch the migration, play games and meet hatchery volunteers. Or else head out to Port Moody’s Mossom Creek Hatchery, which invites the public into its space every Sunday to volunteer or simply observe salmon and their stewards at work.
Struggling against insurmountable odds, one out of every four thousand eggs laid in the Adams River lives to return to the Adams River as a spawning adult. Experience the majesty, beauty and tragically poignant life of the Pacific Sockeye Salmon and attend the Salute to the Sockeye celebration at Roderick Haig Brown Park.
From late summer until early winter B.C.’s rivers turn into a viewing place for one of our province’s natural icons: the salmon! Making their way back to their places of birth to spawn, when the spawning runs are at their peak they are a spectacular sight. Even when they’re not, and there might only be, oh, a few hundred salmon swimming around, it’s still a great reason to make your way to the edge of a river to check out this wonder of nature.
It’s hard to quantify the enormous impact a simple fish has had on the Aboriginal peoples of British Columbia. But the salmon has been a vital part of First Nations diet, economy and mythology for centuries. Meet and local legend: The Salmon. Hear Elder Ralph Phillips of the Xat’sull First Nation talk about how the fish has sustained First Nations communities since time immemorial in a video from Aboriginal Tourism BC and consider an experience with Xwisten Experience Tours.
If you are looking for a short salmon inspired day trip less than an hour from downtown Vancouver, migrate to The Gulf of Georgia Cannery. Learn how salmon has long been a driver of the BC economy. In addition to salmon, you can to sea urchins, spot prawns to halibut–caught fresh from the BC coast at the Steveston Public Fish Sales Float where you can buy salmon and other seafood sold right off the boat. Check the Steveston Harbor Authority’s website for the daily catch!
But before you start a seafood shopping spree you might want to learn more about how these tasty critters are caught. Stop by the Cannery’s Fishing the West Coast exhibit. Discover which fishing methods make for environmentally-wise seafood choices to use for your next ocean-fresh feast. Steveston’s Smart Seafood
Be inspired by North Vancouver’s many public art exhibits that put the spotlight on salmon. Of note are two works by Squamish Nation Artist Jody Broomfield: “Return of the Spawning Salmon” and “Salmon House Post.” You can also find salmon underfoot with Glen Anderson’s mosaics, including “Pebble Mosaics” and “Our Canyon Friends.” If you’re in Coquitlam, check out the salmon sculptures (Also by Jody Broomfield). The city installed them last year to celebrate its salmon-rich heritage and is featuring them in a scavenger hunt during the city’s Culture Days, happening the last weekend of September. Plan your tour! Find the exhibits and their addresses here.
Join the Wild Salmon Caravan from 7-12 Oct. with stops in Chilliwack, Merritt, Kamloops and Chase. The caravan celebrates the return of salmon and its cultural importance to Indigenous land and food systems. Guest speakers, storytelling, performance art and music give participants a chance to experience the return of the salmon to the unceded territories of the xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō, Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations and Secwepemc (Shuswap) People. Wild Salmon Caravan on Facebook
Capilano River Hatchery
If you live in Vancouver, one of the most accessible places to witness salmon swimming upstream is at the Capilano River Hatchery in North Vancouver. It’s located in Capilano Regional Park, and if you take public transit, you can get there by hiking one kilometer from the bus stop. The glass walls give visitors a salmon’s-eye view of their journey. It’s free and surrounded by easy hiking trails — bring a picnic and enjoy an afternoon with returning salmon.
Little Campbell Hatchery
The Little Campbell River flows in Surrey and is home to BC’s first hatchery run entirely by volunteers. If you’re curious about what you can do to help out your neighbourhood salmon, swing by the hatchery to see volunteers identify and count the salmon swimming under the fish fence. There are plenty of places to watch the salmon spawn, as well as an easy and wheelchair accessible hiking trail.
The Harrison River teems with all five species of salmon as well as Steelhead Trout. Stop by the Chehalis hatchery and take the half-hour-long self-guided tour. If you can wait until November, time your visit with the Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival, which takes place from 18-19 Nov. The prolific salmon returns attract up to 10,000 eagles each autumn.
Tenderfoot Lake and Hatchery
Travel along the scenic Sea-to-Sky highway a few kilometers past Squamish to view Chinook, Coho and Chum at the Tenderfoot Hatchery. The hatchery boosts the salmon population for the Squamish River watershed. At Tenderfoot Lake, you can see the salmon spawning on their own. This excursion is a great place to see how humans help salmon, and how salmon do the work on their own. Guided tours are available as operations allow, though best to call ahead.