Fun Facts About New Westminster

Did you know?

  1. The railroad bridge just upstream from the Pattullo Bridge was opened in 1904 and when first opened, it was a double-decker bridge, rail on the bottom, road on the top.
  2. The name “City of New Westminster” was chosenHistoric down town New Westminster by Queen Victoria in 1859 after her favourite part of London – Westminster.
  3. The site of “New Westminster” was chosen in 1859, partly for military reasons, as it was on a steep hill on the north side of a wide river – thus more easily defended.
  4. New Westminster was the first city in Western Canada, west of the lake head (the Great Lakes).
  5. In 1860 New Westminster became the first city in Western Canada, west of the lake head (the Great Lakes) to have a locally-elected municipal government.
  6. The Ancient and Honourable Hyack Anvil Battery carries out a salute to the sovereign, fired with gunpowder and anvils, each May on Victoria Day.
  7. The Royal Westminster Regiment traces its roots back to the Columbia Detachment of Royal Engineers who founded the City.
  8. The Samson V Maritime Museum is a former steam-powered sternwheeler that worked on the Fraser River – the 5th Samson in her line, retired in 1980.
  9. There was once a very large Chinatown in New Westminster that for many years was centred near Carnarvon Street at 10th Street.
  10. Always a port city, New Westminster’s working waterfront has changed a great deal. Now you look out across the river to the harbour facilities governed by the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority.
  11. The local First Nation has had both permanent and seasonal sites at New Westminster. Today the Qayqayt First Nation is the smallest such group in Canada.
  12. The Fraserview housing development site has historical connections to First Nations, Royal Engineers, and the BC Penitentiary with the original 1878 “Pen” still there.
  13. The Fraser Cemetery and St Peter’s Cemetery have historical roots that link the histories of the City, the region and the Province. They also offer some of the best views from the City.
  14. Poplar Island was once the site of World War I shipbuilding – large wooden ships for the war effort. Ship launching ways are still visible on the island’s upriver end.
  15. Adjacent to the New Westminster Skytrain Station, the city’s former Canadian Pacific Railway station has been renovated and converted into a branch of The Keg restaurant chain.
  16. A small portion of New Westminster called Queensborough is located on the eastern tip of Lulu Island, adjacent to Richmond.
  17. New Westminster has a population of 57,645.
  18. New Westminster is the original capital of British Columbia.
  19. New Westminster Sky BridgeNew Westminster’s courthouse, opened in 1981, houses judges and facilities for the Supreme and Provincial Courts of British Columbia. Note the angled glass roof, which mirrors renowned architect Arthur Erickson’s design for the Robson Square courthouse in downtown Vancouver, opened a few years earlier.
  20. The “SkyBridge” was built in 1990 to carry the SkyTrain across the Fraser River from New Westminster to Surrey, where it continues to King George Station. The bridge is the longest transit-only cable-stayed bridge in the world.
  21. New Westminster was selected the first capital of British Columbia in 1859. 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.
  22. New Westminster is the original home of local radio station CKNW. The old studio was once located in the historic Windsor Hotel located on Columbia Street.
  23. New Westminster’s nickname “The Royal City” comes from being named by Queen Victoria.
  24. New Westminster was not the original name picked out for the city.
    The commander Col. Moody decided that the new capital was to be sited at the confluence of the Fraser and the Brunette Rivers. He felt the town should be named Queensborough, but Queen Victoria decided that she did not like that name and so she chose New Westminster (the new Royal City) as the name for the capital city.
  25. 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 by steamboat or canoe up the Fraser River.
  26. Princess MargaretFor 102 years New Westminster was the home of British Columbia Penitentiary, opened in 1878 by the Government of Canada and closed in 1980. It was the first federal penitentiary west of Manitoba. “The Pen” was located between the Sapperton neighbourhood and what is now Queen’s Park, it housed maximum security prisoners and has been the scene of many famous trials and executions including those of the Wild McLean Boys, Slumach and Simon Gunanoot. The original centre block of the Pen still stands and has been revamped into condominiums and a restaurant, while the rest of the Pen’s grounds have been filled with newly-built townhouses and condominiums.
  27. New Westminster is British Columbia’s first capital and the oldest city in western Canada.
  28. New Westminster was destroyed by the Great Fire of 1898. One-third of the city, from Royal Avenue to the waterfront, had been ravaged, and the lower, westerly portion known as the Swamp (Chinatown) had been completely swept bare.
  29. The original colonial Government House was located approximately where Royal City Manor is now.
  30. Westminster Quay was an Expo-era development to revitalize New Westminster and accompanied the development of the Skytrain line to Vancouver.