June 1st. 2017

Behind the Scenes of the New West Tourism Industry: Part 5

New Westminster’s New Media Gallery

By Sheliza Mitha



The September 2014 opening of the sleek and modern Anvil Centre brought with it more than just an impressive conference centre. Tucked away among its four floors and 18,000 square feet of multi-faceted space is the New Westminster Museum and Archives, the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame… and, notably, the New Media Gallery.

The gallery is run by the seasoned team of Sarah Joyce and Gordon Duggan. Each has decades of experience in the international art world. Since opening its doors three years ago, the gallery has welcomed almost 50,000 visitors to experience the innovative work of 80 artists in 13 popular exhibitions, each eight weeks long.

Sarah and Gordon work in partnership to build and curate exhibitions of international contemporary art, and set the gallery’s direction and vision on behalf of the City of New Westminster. As experts in the area of new media art, they were first consulted by the City’s Art Gallery Task Force during the gallery’s formative stages. Later, they were hired as the gallery’s founding directors and curators.

“We always say it was a very brave decision for Mayor and Council to open not just any art gallery, but to go out on a limb and focus on contemporary, international new media art.
By doing this, the gallery has become a draw for the City,” says Sarah. “We present some of the world’s most prominent artists in this modest gallery. There’s no other civic gallery in Canada focusing solely on new media art, or – quite possibly – in North America.”

In the world of art, “new media” can refer to a broad range of practices such as video, sound, light, smell and bio art (e.g., genetic material). The gallery’s works and exhibitions often have a strong connection to science and technology, linking it with the explosion of new innovations.

“One could argue that the history of art is the history of new media. Artists have always sought out innovative materials and ways of working to create something new and thought-provoking – we see this throughout history,” explains Gordon. “Artists often feel compelled to push boundaries and experiment with new technologies. The New Media Gallery tries to reflect this story.

Another way the New Media Gallery stands apart comes from Sarah and Gordon’s strong belief in the power of personal engagement. From day one, they have offered personalised curatorial tours and gallery discussions that respond to the needs of each visitor. The goal? To develop an ongoing love and knowledge of contemporary art, and encourage regular visits to the gallery.

“Every person who comes in talks to one of us, and we listen to our patrons, answer their questions and guide them through the exhibition while gauging their level of knowledge and interest,” Sarah explains. “It is an unusual way of working for a curator, but we can now say we know our audience better than anyone – why they are here and what interests them. And through this process, we encourage a connection with arts and culture.”

What’s their favourite part of the job?

For Sarah, it’s connecting and engaging with the audience, and seeing them come back time after time for the gallery’s evolving exhibitions, with each exhibition often times connecting with the next.

As for Gordon, he references the “incredible satisfaction” in completing an exhibition and then opening it up to the public because, he adds, “without an audience and their feedback and interaction, it’s all just an exercise.”

Both Sarah and Gordon also have their own ideas on what they think is New Westminster’s best-kept secret. Gordon’s reply is quick and concise… “Well, the New Media Gallery, of course.” Sarah acknowledges the forces behind this creation.

“There was a real belief by the Mayor, Council and the City that they wanted to support something that connected with the international community of art right here in New Westminster, something that would be a draw and contextualize the City, and that’s just what they’ve done… it’s been really exciting to be part of that.”

The current exhibition at New Media Gallery is Bridge, and covers the concept of “bridges” in all their forms, physical and otherwise – and how they have the ability to connect and divide us. Bridge will be on display until July 16th at the gallery, located on the third floor of the Anvil Centre at 777 Columbia Street.


Did you know? In 2015, the tourism industry generated a total of $15.7 billion in revenue for the province. (Source: Destination BC)

#MadeInNewWest #BCTourismMatters #ExploreBC

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May 31st. 2017

Behind the Scenes of the New West Tourism Industry: Part 4

Brewing it up at Steel & Oak

By Sheliza Mitha



When business partners Jorden Foss and Jamie Garbutt first opened the doors to Steel & Oak on June 23, 2014, the intention was to simply follow their passion for brewing European-style craft beers.  What once began as a hobby of creating small batches of beer in their backyards has now developed into a full-grown business with a staff of nearly two dozen.

Without hesitation, Jorden Foss largely credits the success of his business to the city that he was born and raised in: New Westminster.  As far as Jorden and Jamie are concerned, the City of New Westminster was the only option for their new venture.

“Steel & Oak is a labour of love, and we’re as local as it gets – we really do bleed New West and we also knew that we would be very well received here,” Jorden says.  “It’s a tight-knit community that helps and supports its own, and we – in turn – wanted to give the community a new place to come and hangout, somewhere kind of relaxed and cool.”

Indeed, the community has come out in support of this new venture – and in droves. As an example, during its first year of business, Steel & Oak brewed about 50,000 litres of beer.  Today – less than three years later – that number has expanded ten-fold to 500,000 litres per year.

Not only is Steel & Oak the only brewery in New Westminster, but it’s also one of only a few that locally specializes in crafting German-style beer.  Because of this, Steel & Oak has also found its niche in the wider markets of Vancouver, Vancouver Island and BC’s interior, as their signature European lagers and hefeweizens have quickly set them apart from other breweries crafting West Coast and North American-style beers.

“We didn’t know how well received our beers or our Tasting Room would be, but it’s been incredibly busy almost from the very beginning,” Jorden adds. “Our first month or two, we actually ran out of beer so we had to quickly add capacity and we’ve grown a lot – beyond what I had ever imagined.”

When asked about his favourite part of the job at Steel & Oak, Jorden revealed two clear answers. The first, as might be predicted, is sampling the new beers made by his team – “especially,” he says, “when they knock it out of the park.”

The second, he explains, is the pure joy and satisfaction he gets from quietly listening and watching his patrons enjoy nearly every aspect of the intimate Tasting Room and the range of beers.

“That’s one of the best parts of the job,” he says.

As for New West’s best-kept secret?  Jorden has two.

For something tangible that you can see and do, he cites Landing Park in the Sapperton area.  This eight-acre regional linear park sits along the Fraser River and offers a scenic one-kilometre walk with bridges, benches and views of marine birds and tug boats along the way.

New West’s second best-kept secret, in his opinion, is the city’s arts scene. “Most people don’t realize how many artistic and creative types have moved into New West over the years.  There’s always something cool happening here, whether it’s live music, performances, art shows… there’s a big creative scene that might be hard to see at times, but it’s here.  It just needs to be experienced.”

You can find Steel & Oak at 1319 3rd Avenue, less than a two-kilometre drive (or a 15-minute walk) from the New Westminster SkyTrain Station.


Did you know?  According to the most recent figures (2015), BC’s tourism-related businesses employed some 127,700 people – a 1.2% increase over 2014 and a 16% increase since 2005.

#MadeInNewWest #BCTourismMatters #ExploreBC


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May 30th. 2017

Behind the Scenes of the New West Tourism Industry: Part 3

Championing Coffee & Community at Old Crow Coffee Co.

By Sheliza Mitha | Photos courtesy of Old Crow Coffee Co.

vu ocNew Westminster is quickly evolving into a culinary hub in its own right within the Lower Mainland. Whether it’s authentic Mexican food, gourmet burgers, craft beer or a local roast – the Royal City is becoming known as a foodie destination for its array of unique offerings.

One local café that so perfectly represents the community, culture – and culinary evolution – of New Westminster is Old Crow Coffee Co., situated across the Fraser River at 655 Front Street in downtown.

When Stephanie Vu first opened the café in March of 2015, she and her business partners envisioned a motorcycle café – a sort of transient spot for motorcycle enthusiasts and riders to stop in for a good cup of coffee en route to their next destination. This makes sense when you consider Stephanie’s background.

Prior to Old Crow, she was in a metal apprenticeship program with a strong interest in automotive and motorcycle repair. This – coupled with her love of coffee and coffee shops – led her and her partners to a dream hybrid of the two: a motorcycle café that serves bikers and showcases unique motorcycles.

14562032_149900495503854_8560616372143390720_nHowever, almost since day one of opening, Stephanie explains that the café took on a life of its own. Instead of a temporary resting stop for wanderers, Old Crow Coffee organically grew to become something even bigger and better: an important cornerstone and meeting spot for the community

“I’m really proud of the café and space that this has become,” says Stephanie. “Old Crow Coffee has grown into a shared space for arts, culture and the community – especially our back area, which has been used for all kinds of community events, performances, and workshops.”

Having been born and raised in Southern California and as a relatively new transplant to the Lower Mainland, one might wonder why Stephanie chose New Westminster – of all places – to open her dream café. The answer, though, is simple:

“I love the charm of New West, all the character here and the sort of unique big small town of this community.”


Indeed, this café so seamlessly blends into the area, Front Street itself and the character-filled building it occupies, one would think Old Crow has been here for nearly as long as the city.  Stephanie explains that the name, too, fits with the feel of the old building, the neighbourhood and the history of BC’s oldest city.

“A long time ago,” she says, “I heard an old English proverb: ‘Old crows are hard to catch’ and that stuck with me.  Plus, I love crows. So we felt the name just perfectly captured and fit into everything around us – and made sense for us.”

With two years of experience under her belt as part owner and full-time barista at Old Crow Coffee, I asked Stephanie about her favourite part of the job.  Without hesitation, she said it’s the people.

“It’s 100% knowing the people in the area, getting to make those connections, learning about the community and what they need, and working to better align with what they need.”

A key priority for Stephanie, she says, is creating a safe space for everyone, being inclusive to all and – most importantly – engaging the community, whether it’s through casual and impromptu coffee tutorials to customers in the café or offering up the space in the back for important community and neighbourhood events, such as open mic nights, presentations and other events.

As for New Westminster’s best-kept secret, she gave a generous shout-out Wild Thyme – a modest Lebanese restaurant on 12th Street that she says serves the “most amazing” food and is hands down one of the best restaurants she’s eaten at in her entire life.

But, she adds, “people are quickly catching on.”  The same, of course, could also be said about New Westminster – and the city’s growing status as an emerging culinary and coffee destination.

Did you know?  In 2015, some 18,938 tourism-related businesses were in operation in British Columbia, a 1.4% increase over 2014.

#MadeInNewWest #BCTourismMatters #ExploreBC

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May 29th. 2017

Behind the Scenes of the New West Tourism Industry: Part 2

Inside New West with Christina Anderson

By Sheliza Mitha


Christina Anderson

Although Canada momentously celebrates its 150th birthday this year, New Westminster’s history is even older – by nearly a decade. In fact, it was in 1859 that New Westminster officially became the first city in Western Canada.

Now, some 158 years later, New Westminster is a modern, vibrant city in its own right with impressive attractions and remarkable shopping, dining, entertainment and theatrical experiences.

New Westminster’s growing popularity is evident through its share of visitors from the Lower Mainland – including Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley – as well as from Washington State, other parts of the United States and the world. With these visitors looking for information on the city, Tourism New West’s Visitor Information Centre is bustling with activity and information.

As a student entering her third year at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, Christina Anderson is back home for the summer and ready to champion New West to the world as a Visitor Information Counsellor at Tourism New Westminster’s various visitor centres.

I recently had a chance to chat with Christina about her background – and her role in helping visitors make the most of their time in the Royal City.


What inspired and motivated you to become a Visitor Information Counsellor for Tourism New Westminster?

I was born and raised in New West, and so when it came time for me to look for a summer job… well, it just made sense. Before this, I had been working as a Visitor Councillor for Surrey and White Rock – off and on for about a year-and-a-half – and that was a great experience, but my goal was always to make it back here… which is home.

It’s also so nice to be working in this area, and to be promoting all that New West has to offer. There’s so much going on, so there’s always lots to tell people about when they walk through the doors.

What do you think sets New Westminster apart from other cities?

There’s such a uniqueness and individuality to New Westminster. First of all, it’s BC’s oldest city so it has history. There’s also a really strong feeling of community and sometimes feels like a big small town – yet it’s also close to the hustle and bustle of the city.

Christina Brochure

What is your favourite part of the job?

I would say it’s meeting new people and having a chance to chat with them, answer their questions and tell them about what’s happening in the city. It’s so fun to help people plan their trips – and my job definitely makes me want to go out and see more of New West. There’s just always so much to see and do here. Overall, though, I want to say that I am so happy to have this job. I feel so lucky to be an ambassador for the city, and am very excited for the summer.


In your opinion, what is New Westminster’s best-kept secret?

The Food! New Westminster has some of the best restaurants and food in the Lower Mainland. The city is definitely under-rated when it comes to food, but that’s quickly changing. All of my favourite foods and dishes and restaurants are all here – so I definitely think that’s New West’s best-kept secret.



Why should people drop by to chat with you at the Visitor Information Centre?

We can tell you about different offerings – depending on the week – and what’s going on in terms of activities, events and festivals. We can give you the insider’s perspective on the city. If you happen to be wandering around Downtown New West, then you should pop by to grab a map and find out about what’s happening around town that you might be interested in.



Tourism New Westminster’s Visitor Information Centre is located within the state-of-the-art Anvil Centre in the heart of Downtown New Westminster at 777 Columbia Street. For the summer season, a Visitor Info Centre will also open as of July 1st at the River Market – in addition to pop-up visitor centres at some of the city’s major events and festivals.

Be sure to drop by and visit Christina and the other visitor information Counsellor to get the inside scoop on fun experiences and event information around the city.



Did you know? Last year, Tourism New Westminster’s Visitor Centre – including roaming ambassadors – welcomed more than 5,000 visitors.

#MadeInNewWest #BCTourismMatters #ExploreBC


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May 28th. 2017

Behind the scenes of the New West Tourism Industry: Part 1

Building Community & Events with Angie Whitfield of the Downtown New Westminster BIA


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May 18th. 2017

Hyack Festival 2017


This year’s theme is – First Nations. First Cities. Telling Our Story. Together.

Join in the Hyack Festival Celebration this year with activities for the whole family. Here are 7 events taking place throughout New West during the weeklong celebration!

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1. The Anvil Salute
May 22 from 11:30am-12:30pm at Queen’s Park Stadium

2. May Day Celebrations
May 24 starting at 11:30am at Queen’s Park Stadium

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(The Record / Chung Chow)

3. Hyack International Parade
May 27 from 11am-2pm beginning at 6th Street and 8th Avenue


4. Uptown Street Fest
May 27 from 11am-5pm

5. Rose Planting Ceremony
May 27 at 1:45pm in front of City Hall

6. Artillery Firing
May 27 at 2pm at City Hall Front Lawn

7. May Day Community Heritage Picnic
May 28 from 2pm-4pm at the Armoury





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May 9th. 2017

Spoil Mom this Mother’s Day weekend in New West!

This year, Mother’s Day is #MadeInNewWest and we’re going to show you the best ways to spoil her in the Royal City.

1. Start the Day with Brunch

Brunch. Everyone loves it. Take your mom to one of the many eateries open for brunch in New West. If you want to really wow her, take her to Match Eatery & Public House between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM, as all mom’s get a free glass of Champagne!


Another fun option is booking a spot on the Paddlewheeler for a Mother’s Day brunch cruise. Not only does it feature a full brunch buffet, but a 2.5-hour cruise along the Fraser River. Make sure to book in advance, as this popular trip will fill up!



2. Pamper Her with Shopping & Hair Styling

The boutique clothing shop has partnered with Zoom Hair Studio to create the perfect Mother’s Day experience. For just $150, Mom’s will receive $100 gift certificate to Mila + Page, hair treatment and styling at Zoom, and flowers from Blossom & Vine Floral Co.

Bring your mom to either Mila + Page or Zoom on Mother’s Day, where they will be serving Mimosas to enjoy while she shops & gets her hair styled. Only limited quantities are available and the package can be purchased at either location or over the phone.

3. Show Your Love with a Bouquet of Flowers


Instead of just bringing her a bouquet this year, take your mom to this workshop put on by Floral Duet on Saturday, May 13th. Learn how the professionals put together beautiful bouquets, make one with your mom, and then she can take it home with her after!

This workshop is taking place at the new Queensborough Boutique Pop-up, so you can also spend time enjoying the local shops before or after the workshop. Make sure to sign up, as space is limited and sign ups close this Thursday, May 11th.

4. Treat Her to a Night Out – Dinner & Live Theatre


Patrick Street Productions is bringing a classic Steven Sondheim play to New West this month. A Little Night Music is a perfect play to see with your mom, as this romantic romp is a combination of witty writing and great classical music. Performing at the Anvil Centre theatre on Mother’s Day at 2:00 PM, this play started out on Broadway and has won 6 Tony Awards. The Anvil Centre shares the same street with many restaurants including El Santo, The Hub, and Taverna Greka.

A Little Night Music tickets






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May 4th. 2017

Look out for Queensborough’s Boutique Pop-Up in May 2017

Pop Up Shop

Queensborough Landing is hosting a new boutique pop-up shop for the first time this May, running over two weekends. They’ve collected an assortment of local makers, creators, and small businesses to create a unique shopping experience you won’t want to miss! The first weekend is May 13-14th, just in time for Mother’s Day, and it wraps up after the 27-28th with a different set of vendors.

Still looking for a Mother’s Day gifts? Sign up for the Floral Design Workshop taking place the first weekend – deadline to sign up is Thursday, May 11th!! – and learn how to make flower arrangements just like the pros do or even bring your mom with you!

Still not convinced? Take a look at just a few of the vendors you can see there!

Food & Baking

Do you have a sweet tooth? Check out these delicious treats. During the first weekend, you’ll have the chance to visit Level V Bakery and Countertop Pastries who will be there both weekends.




Health & Beauty

These businesses range from all natural skincare lines to spa and beauty products. Perfect for Mothers Day gifts or for treating yourself! During the first weekend you can see Lipani Skincare and Erd Soap, and during the second weekend, you’ll get the chance to visit Once Upon Bath & Body Inc and the Pure Serenity Spa.





Maybe the most interesting of all the products are these lifestyle brands, from clothing to crafts, you’ll be sure to find something that catches your eye. On the first weekend check out Aloha Kai Apparel and The Pirate and The Gypsy Design. Then, on the second weekend, you’ll want to come by to see Taylin Threads, Kinder Books, Mama Chic Decor, Bitter Melon Bindery, and Riverbug Love.





These vendors are sure to be a hit, so make sure you come out to support the #MadeInNewWest products and find something you can enjoy!

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May 1st. 2017

Bucket List 150 #MadeInNewWest

Submit Your Ideas to New Westminster’s 150 Bucket List

This year, Canada turns 150 years old and to celebrate this incredible milestone, we will be publishing the city’s first-ever bucket list of 150 experiences – and we need your ideas.

Since this will be an “insider’s guide,”  we’re seeking input from local businesses and residents on some of the top #MadeInNewWest experiences – from where to go for a great meal and a local brew to the city’s best spots for art, music, theatre and more.

Each and every idea will come from a local, offering an inside scoop in 15 different categories – including arts, culinary, events & festivals and outdoor experiences… among others.

“There’s a reason New Westminster is becoming known as a go-to destination for amazing experiences in the world of arts, culture, culinary, heritage, theatre and more – there’s always something to do and see here,” says Tej Kainth, executive director of Tourism New Westminster. “We want this guide to give an insider’s perspective on some of the city’s best experiences – so this is a great chance to share your favourite activities and events in New West, and be part of this special project.”

The guide will be free and distributed at New Westminster’s official Canada Day celebrations and other major events and festivals throughout the coming summer months.

Deadline for submissions is May 27, 2017.  Submit your favourite things to do, see, taste and experience in New Westminster HERE!

 Have any questions?  Please email

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April 19th. 2017

Record Store Day 2017

What better way to celebrate Record Store Day than with a glass of Craft Beer in hand? Revamp your vinyl collection with vintage picks and limited edition finds at Analog: Pop Up Vinyl Shop this Saturday, April 22 2017!

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The Details
Where: 52 Sixth St.
When: April 22nd from 2-5pm

Join Steel & Oak and the Arts Council of New Westminster for vinyl shopping, food, drinks and of course live music by Amanda Silvera, Mr. Rust and a DJ spinning some classic hip-hop all afternoon.


The After Party
Because Record Store Day doesn’t end when the shop closes – join Social Medium DJ’s at Old Crow Coffee Co (655 Front Street) from 6-10pm for FREE live music

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