New Westminster

In just 20 minutes from downtown Vancouver, via SkyTrain, you can discover the Royal City. New Westminster was founded by the Royal Engineers under the command of Colonel Richard Clement Moody, and named by Queen Victoria after her favourite neighbourhood in London, Westminster. The oldest city in western Canada, it was the capital of British Columbia between 1858 and 1866. Founded on a lofty hill where two branches of the Fraser River meet, New Westminster was chosen as much for the strategic value of its natural defenses as for the commercial potential of the area. In 1859, New Westminster was the mainland berth for the fleet of sternwheelers that plied the waters between Victoria and Yale, the starting point of the Cariboo Wagon Road. Fortunately, the only action the young city saw was the furious traffic and trade of the Gold Rush years. On July 17, 1860, New Westminster became the first incorporated city west of the Great Lakes. However, by the late 1860s the Fraser River gold rush had faded, and eventually the city lost its capital status to Victoria on Vancouver Island. In September 1898, the Great Fire destroyed the downtown area of New Westminster, sparing just two buildings - the Queen Hotel and the Burr Block. The citizenry had little choice but to accept the enormous challenge of rebuilding the city, which was accomplished by 1910. Till today, the downtown shopping district along Columbia Street is known as The Golden Mile. Not long ago, it used to be easy to distinguish Vancouver from its neighbours.

Bridges spanned Burrard Inlet and the Fraser River to connect with communities to the north and south, while buffer zones of undeveloped land defined where the Big Smoke left off and all else to the east began. By the 1970s, such distinctions had blurred to the point where one hardly noticed a transition from one city to the next, particularly between Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, and Port Moody. Positioned at the hub of the Greater Vancouver network today, New Westminster is a charming mix of old and new, with a picturesque waterfront and fabulous Victorian architecture - a vibrant and progressive city with a community rich in tradition and respect for its heritage.

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Last update: 03 Dec 2020 @ 02:22

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