New Westminster Public Library

Historic information is available on the second floor of the New Westminster Public Library. The following sources may be helpful in locating information on historical figures, residents of New Westminster, and locating the previous owners, the architect, construction date, or photos of your home.

City Directory (1860 to present)

The city directory documents each house and list many of the former occupants. These directories list New Westminster resident’s names and sometimes addresses and occupations. The City Directories are a great resource to track the movement of people around the city. Listings will often include names or initials of all members of a household. The Library also carries telephone directories for New Westminster (some of which include the most of Metro Vancouver) from 1952 to the present. Start by looking up your name and address in the most recent directory and work your way backward to trace the owners or occupants of the house to 1925. Prior to 1924, the directories covered all of B.C.  Locate New Westminster and then continue using the listed names rather than the address. As the Sapperton, West End, and Queensborough neighbourhoods were not originally part of New Westminster, many houses were omitted from the pre-1890 directories. It may be easier to check the Fire Insurance Plans first.

Fire Insurance Plans

The library has fire insurance maps of New Westminster for the years 1897 (revised in 1905), 1907 (revised 1914 and 1919), and 1957. These maps show the outline of all buildings and their exact locations. Each map was continually revised over time with updates pasted in over the original map.

Heritage Home Tours

Illustrations and descriptions of homes featured annually in the local homes tours from 1980 to the present can be searched online using the NWMA online archives. Tip: use NWPL heritage collection – Heritage Home Tours in the Fonds / Collection Name field to retrieve all the records available. See our guide on searching the entire database for discovering even more historical content!

Photograph Collection

The historical photograph collection is a dynamic resource of black and white photographs. Aspects of life in the Royal City are chronicled back to 1858 under a wide variety of topics including: buildings, houses, streets, portraits, social life and customs, views from the Fraser River, and the waterfront.

The NWPL collection of historical photographs can be searched online using the NWMA online archives. Tip: use NWPL heritage collection – Photos in the Fonds / Collection Name field to retrieve all the records available. See our guide on searching the entire database for discovering even more historical content!

Photo reproductions can be requested here.

Information File

The information file contains information on New Westminster collected from newspapers, magazines and other sources. It includes information on houses, architects and individuals.

Canadian Inventory of Historic Buildings (compiled 1973)

This inventory contains photos of over 350 houses and buildings located primarily in the Queens’ Park, Brow of the Hill, Downtown, West End and Sapperton Neighbourhoods. This information is available at the Library and the Museum.

Newspapers

Newspaper indexing may uncover biographical information on previous owners of your house.

Bowell & Sons Funeral Home index

The Bowell & Sons Records can be searched online using the NWMA online archives. Tip: use NWPL heritage collection – Bowell Funeral Home in the Fonds / Collection Name field to retrieve all the records available. See our guide on searching the entire database for discovering even more historical content!

Ancestry.com

The Library subscribes to the Ancestry.com online genealogical service. Ancestry contains over 4 billion names in various historical records from around the world. This service is free of charge with a valid library card, but can only be accessed from within the Library.

External genealogical resources

In addition to the local resources available at the New Westminster Public Library, there’s more local content to be discovered from other institutions: New Westminster Museum and ArchivesBC Archives and Library and Archives Canada are all useful tools for exploring historical figures both locally, provincially, and country-wide.