As the oldest city in western Canada, New Westminster has a long and rich history.  In 1859, the Royal Engineers arrived from England to establish the first capital of the new colony of British Columbia. The chosen site was selected both for its beauty and strategic location on the Fraser River.


The Royal Engineers’ Camp, 1862

On July 20, 1859, Governor James Douglas proclaimed that the new city would be officially named “New Westminster” – a name chosen by Queen Victoria herself. This naming by Her Royal Highness, gave residents, both then and now, the honour of referring to their home as the “Royal City”.

The completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1885 accelerated New Westminster’s growth and development. The new rail line allowed goods to be transported through New Westminster’s port and transported throughout Canada and the world.  New buildings and businesses quickly sprouted up along Columbia Street, serving both then and now, as an important thoroughfare for business in the city.

In 1898, a devastating fire destroyed much of the downtown area. Citizens were determined to rebuild their city and within a few years a new downtown emerged. Over the next twenty years new industries were established in New Westminster including shipping firms, paper and lumber mills. Columbia Street, or the “Golden Mile” as it later became known, prospered and attracted shoppers from across the Lower Mainland.


The Great Fire of 1898


“Wintertime Along the “Golden Mile”, 1948

Over the past one hundred and fifty years, New Westminster has continued to grow and thrive. Our community isn’t just another suburb of a larger city – New Westminster’s heritage, traditions and character sets us apart with a unique identity.

We are a community with active and engaged citizens, enthusiastic about their city – where it has been and where it is going. Together, we share a deep pride in our city’s rich history and an excitement for our bright future. 

Click here to visit the New Westminster Heritage Website.

Click here to search the New Westminster Archives.

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