Neighbourhoods: New Westminster Community



Westminster Quay aerial view in Winter

New Westminster is often called the Royal City because Queen Victoria named the city herself, likely after Westminster Abbey in England. It is a small city that was the capital of British Columbia for a short time.

New Westminster has many old houses, but I find many are run down and don't look so good. New Westminster also has many apartment buildings built near the river. The only major attraction in New Westminster is the Westminster Quay where there is a public market and a chance to walk along the riverfront.

In 1859, New Westminster was selected as the first capital of the new Colony of British Columbia by Queen Victoria, who named the city after part of London. From this naming by the Queen, the City gained its official nickname, "The Royal City". A year later it became the first City in British Columbia to have an elected municipal government. It became a major outfitting point for prospectors coming to the Cariboo gold rush, as all travel to the goldfield ports of Yale and Port Douglas was by steamboat or canoe up the Fraser River.

In 1866, the colonies of British Columbia and Vancouver Island were united as "British Columbia". However, the capital of the Colony of Vancouver Island, Victoria, located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, was made the capital of the newly amalgamated Colony of British Columbia.

Homes

New Westminster has a nice mix of housing styles ranging from Victorians through Arts & Crafts bungalows particularly around the downtown Queens Park. There are also a number of new high-rise developments around the Quay. There is a lot of redevelopment at the site of the historic 1878 BC Penitentiary, along the Fraser River, including Fraservew Park and Glenbrooke South. In Queensborough, on Lulu Island (which is mostly part of Richmond), there is the new 24 hectare Port Royal development. Some of the more prestigious neighbourhoods is Victory Heights. The central neighbourhoods of Uptown and Brow of the Hill, around 6th Avenue between Queens Park and Moody Park, are mostly apartments and condos.

Homes in New Westminster run $505-574,000; and condos can cost $281-295,000.

Schools

New Westminster has 45 elementary, a huge junior-secondary school complex, and has several French immersion opportunities. The downtown campus of Douglas College offers two year programs as well as one or two-year university transfer programs. The new Justice Institute of BC offers training for police, fire, ambulance, court and corrections personnel. Simon Fraser University in neighbouring Burnaby offers business and arts degrees. BC Institute of Technology on Willingdon offers a variety of technical programs.

Shopping

New Westminster shopping has much variety, including the Westminster Quay and the Farmers Market, the new Columbia Square shopping centre, and Royal Square. For a destination shopping experience, many locals head to Burnaby’s 500-store Metrotown.

New Westminster's Chinatown was one of the earliest established in the mainland colony and also one of the largest. Originally located along Front Street, it was relocated to an area known as "The Swamp" at the southwest end of downtown, bounded roughly by Royal Avenue, Columbia Street, and 8th and 12th Streets (now a large shopping plaza area). Chinatown was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1898 and only partly rebuilt afterwards.

Recreation

New Westminster has lots of parks a short distance from everybody. Moody and Queen’s are urban oases, and Hume Park on the Brunette River provides a more nature-oriented escape. There are several swimming pools (including the impressive Canada Games Pool), ice arenas, a stadium, even a Childrens’ Zoo. The community’s history also provides a number of museums. New Westminster Neighbourhoods






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