10 Facts – New Westminster, B.C.

On July 16th, 1860; the city of New Westminster was officially incorporated into British Columbia.  While the city is now known predominantly as a municipality of Greater Vancouver rather than its by its own identity it was, in the past, a city which was incredibly significant in its own right.  While this post would have made more sense last week (when I had initially intended to upload it), life got in the way and so it’s going up now! And so, without further delay, here are ten cool facts about New Westminster:

The View of New Westminster from the Fraser River, 1865.

The View of New Westminster from the Fraser River, 1865.

  1. Prior to European arrival, First Nations groups in the area used the site where New Westminster would appear for both seasonal and permanent settlements.
  2. The site of New Westminster was chosen in 1895 predominantly for military reasons as it was located on a steep hill on the northern side of a wide river and, therefore, easily defended.
  3. The name ‘New Westminster’ was chosen by Queen Victoria in 1859 after her favorite part of London; Westminster.
  4. Due to its connection with Queen Victoria, New Westminster holds the nickname of ‘The Royal City’.
  5. New Westminster is British Columbia’s first capital and the oldest city in western Canada, it was selected as the first capitol of British Columbia in 1859. However, in 1866 the colonies of British Columbia and Vancouver Island united as “British Columbia” and the capital of the Colony of Vancouver Island, Victoria, was made the capital of the newly amalgamated colony at that time.
  6. The main feature of the New Westminster Museum and Archives is the 1865 Irving House which is thought to be the oldest intact house in the Lower Mainland.
  7. During the Cariboo Gold Rush New Westminster was a major outfitting point for prospectors as all travel to the goldfield ports of Yale and Port Douglas was completed by steamboat or canoe up the Fraser River.
  8. A massive fire in 1898 destroyed the majority of the downtown area of the city.

    A Shot of the City Taken After the Fire of 1898.

    A Shot of the City Taken After the Fire of 1898.

  9. The railroad bridge just upstream from the Pattullo Bridge was opened in 1904 and when first opened, it was a double-decker bridge with rail on the bottom and road on the top.
  10. The Fraser Cemetery and St Peter’s Cemetery have historical roots that link the histories of the city, the region and the Province.
Shots of Columbia Street in 1932 and 2008.

Shots of Columbia Street in 1932 and 2008.

For more information, please check out the City of New Westminster’s website or the Tourism New Westminster site.

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