Museums & Archives

Preserving the Past for the Future!

New Westminster’s Museums & Archives are managed across three city locations: Anvil Centre, Irving House and the Samson V Museum.  The operations care for over 36,000 objects and another 35,000 photographs and archival records that celebrate our city’s stories and history. Our exhibits focus on the land, people, and development of the place now known as New Westminster. We aspire to be fun and entertaining places of learning and use the objects in the museum’s collection as an entry-point to inquiry, discussion, and exploration about the city.

Museum Hours

Admission to all sites is by donation.

Anvil Centre, Irving  House and Samson V are all open on Canada Day.

New Westminster Museum (Anvil Centre, 3rd floor, 777 Columbia Street):
Open year round
Monday to Sunday: 10 am – 5 pm.
Thursday: 10 am - 8 pm.

Irving House (302 Royal Avenue)
Wednesday to Sunday: 12 pm - 5 pm
*Last entry at 4:30 pm.

The Samson V (880 Quayside Drive):
Friday - Sunday 12 pm - 5 pm
Wednesdays & Thursdays, 3 pm - 8 pm.

Archives Hours

New Westminster Archives (Anvil Centre, 2nd floor, 777 Columbia Street):
Open year round
Monday to Friday: 10 am to 5 pm.
Reference services: 12 pm - 5 pm.
Weekends by appointment

T: 604-527-4640

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The New Westminster Museum and Archives gratefully acknowledge the financial assistance of the Province of British Columbia

  • The museum consists of three galleries. The permanent gallery at Anvil Centre takes you on a journey of discovery, covering over 10,000 years of New Westminster history and ending in 2010.

    Gallery 7 picks up where the permanent gallery leaves off. This is a place of engagement and interaction, bringing forth the contemporary stories of our city through discussion, dialogue, and exhibition in a smaller intimate setting. The temporary gallery lets us take a deeper look into many of our city’s more interesting and thought-provoking stories, individuals, and objects.

    The third gallery can be found at 1865 Irving House, the former colonial home of Captain William Irving, and one of the oldest community heritage sites in B.C.

    Museum Hours

    Monday to Sunday: 10 am – 5 pm, Thursday open late to 8 pm.

    Irving House is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 12 noon to 4 pm from September-April. 

    The Samson V is closed for the season (November-April).

    Enquiries to the collections

    All museum collections are held in trust for the community. Should you have an interest in viewing an item in our collection that is not on display in the galleries, please contact us to book an appointment with our staff.

     

    T: 604-527-4640

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    To find out more about New Westminster history, please visit these pages:

    Archives Online
    Catalogue of photos and other records

    Heritage Register
    Official listing of properties deemed to have heritage value

    Heritage Resource Inventory
    Unofficial list of properties deemed to have heritage value

    New Westminster Public Library Heritage and Local History
    Timelines, list of mayors, May queens, photos and more

    Westminster Pier Park Memory Bands
    Profiles and photos of words and names along the Memory Band
  • Upcoming Exhibitions:

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    You Are What You Eat:
    Community Food Security

    Opening night: Thursday May 16, 2019 (6-8pm)
    Exhibit dates: Friday May 17, 2019 – Sunday October 20, 2019

    Stories from the past and present in New Westminster to help us understand how people eat in our community.

    For more information, see the exhibit page.

    Current Exhibitions:

    The Long Hours: Art in the BC Penitentiary
    August 2018-July 2019

    For most of the inmates, time spent in the BC Pen was full of hard work, boredom, and hour upon hour of silence. “The Long Hours”, a name for the fifteen-hour block of time overnight where the inmates were locked in their cells alone and forbidden to communicate with each other, resulted in many of the inmates taking up various handicrafts to help pass the time, creating artwork with craftsmanship that was often exceptionally high quality. This display showcases examples of these handicrafts and invites visitors to imagine incarceration from a new perspective — one not of destruction, but of production.

    This student display was designed and implemented by the 2018 New Westminster Museum Summer Students at Anvil Centre. 

    Past Exhibitions:

    Wait for Me, Daddy
    October 4, 2014 - August 16, 2015

    Baskets for Barter
    November 29, 2014 - January 24, 2015

    Hair Apparent: A Hairy History of New Westminster
    April 23 - June 21, 2015

    Our Working Waterfront, 1945-2015
    July 9 - October 27, 2015

    Architectural Gems in the Royal City
    September 17, 2015 - May 8, 2016

    The Living Archive
    June 23 - August 21, 2016

    Branching Out: Plants in New Westminster's History
    June 2 – November 20, 2016

    Ornamenting the Ordinary: Crafts of South Asia

    September 10, 2016 – January 2, 2017

    Witness Blanket
    December 5, 2016 - April 28, 2017

    Planning New West:
    A History and Future of Urban Development in New Westminster

    June 1, 2017 – January 21, 2017

    Bottoms Up:
    The Cultures of Drink in the Royal City

    November 4, 2017 – May 27, 2018

     

     

     

     

    Be/Longing
    February 17, 2018 - October 7, 2018

    People Gotta Move
    July 5, 2018 - November 16, 2018

    Crossing of Rails, River and Roads

    A new exhibit about transportation in New West developed in collaboration with the Vancouver LEGO Club.

    Transportation themed tours, talks and programs during summer and fall 2018.

    #MOCGottaMove

    Getting the Word Out
    October 26, 2018 - April 28, 2019

     
  • Opening night: Thursday May 16, 2019 (6-8 pm)
    Friday May 17, 2019 – Sunday October 20, 2019

    Stories from the past and present in New Westminster to help us understand how people eat in our community.

    See below for exhibit links and associated programs.

    EXHIBIT LINKS

    This exhibition has QR codes with information if you want to find out more.  The links are also listed below, under each section:

     

    Introduction

    Some common food terms you’ll see in this exhibition.

     

    What is Food Security?

    “Poor people are lazy and don’t want to work.”  Do you believe these myths? Check out these New West poverty myth busters and what you can do to help pull people out of poverty.

    Like and follow New Westminster Community Food Action.

    The Official Community Plan provides the vision and goals for the city to 2041, including policies related to food.

    The Community Poverty Reduction Strategy identifies specific actions to enhance the quality of life of those people living in poverty and to provide opportunities to assist them to move out of poverty.

    Two of the 14 goals in the Environmental Strategy and Action Plan relate to the environmental impacts of food.

    New Westminster Food Security Action Plan
     

    Food Sovereignty

    Starting in 2007 and lasting about five years, the Fraserside Community Services Society’s Biggest Little Garden in Town project helped apartment residents start gardens on their balconies with tiered cedar boxes that were accessible for all people. With seed and garden workshops, this social enterprise helped people access fresh produce that they themselves grew, even if they didn’t have a backyard or a plot. Watch this video about the project.

    Community Gardens
    Find out about getting a plot at one of the community gardens.

    Keeping certain farm animals to supplement diets is legal in New West.

    For the laws on raising chickens in New Westminster, see 1967’s Public Health Bylaw No. 4271.

    If you meet the requirements, you can also keep a beehive in New West. See the bylaw.

     

    Food Systems: Farming and Fishing

    The Choi Guide
    Vancouver’s Hua Foundation put together a seasonal guide for the Chinese vegetables grown in the Lower Mainland. You can read it in English with pronunciations in Cantonese and Mandarin. Here’s the Cantonese version to help you on your next shopping trip.
     


    Food Systems: Distribution and Access


    The Food Costing in BC report provides data about the affordability of food. It tells us how much income families and individuals need in order to eat healthy meals. The report is done every two years by the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), with the last one completed in 2017. The report informs calculations for living wage numbers.

    Fuel Up
    A 2017 UNICEF report ranked Canada 37th out of 41 countries for children’s access to healthy food.

    In February 2019, after two years of planning, the New Westminster School District launched a cost-shared universally accessible school lunch program, the first of its kind in Canada. Starting in three schools (Qayqayt Elementary, Queen Elizabeth Elementary and Queensborough Middle Schools), it will eventually be available to all schools in the district.

    Read more and order a meal for your kids.

    Things Were So Cheap Back Then!
    Or were they? Compare the prices in the ads below to what they would be in today’s money. Use an inflation calculator
     


    Food Systems: Consumption

    $40 a Week @ the Market
    In 2016, blogger Katie Bartel wrote about her summer market challenge: to stretch out $40 every week at the New West Farmers Market. Read about it.



    Food Literacy

    Canada Food Guide

    The new Canada Food Guide, released this year, recommends a shift to a more plant-based diet, with water as the drink of choice. The aim is to have a plate that is half vegetables, one-quarter protein (such as nuts, meat and tofu), and one-quarter whole grains (like bread, rice and quinoa). It also recommends reducing sugary drinks (including juice), sweets and pastries, salt and saturated fat, and alcohol.

    New West Cookbookery

    There is a cookbook lending library at the River Market. Share the cookbooks you love for a while or forever, or take out what you need for a month.

    To borrow a book, register here.

     

    Our City’s Food Culture

    Helping You Celebrate
    Did you know that the Family Services of Greater Vancouver has grants for community celebrations through the Vancouver Foundation’s Neighbourhood Small Grant program?

    Neighbours around New West have found unique ways to get to know each other through food. At the Glenbrooke Salad and Pie days, residents brought their home-cooked meals to share with one another. A Roma Hall chef got a grant to teach Italian cooking at Thompson’s Landing Park in Queensborough. The Fraser Fraser River Food Buying Club received seed funding to establish. Many have received grants to start new community gardens or have multicultural meals.

    Apply for a grant here.

    Diverse Eating in New West
    New West has many good international restaurants.

    Explore Downtown’s shops and restaurants with this map.

    Or check out the diversity along Twelfth Street.

     

    ASSOCIATED PROGRAMS

    Chocolatl: The Ancient Drink of Gods (All Ages)

    Come experience chocolate with a twist! Take a guided tour of our feature exhibition about food security, and then join us as we take you on a journey of authentic chocolate drinks, customs and history from Mexico and Columbia. Not only will you get to try these fantastic drinks, but you will also leave with a recipe and resource package, so that you can create them at home and wow your friends and family. This sweet and savory experience will have your taste buds rejoicing!

    Anvil Centre | Studio 411A

    TU                          7:00–8:00pm

    May 28

    $14.50               20761


    Bugs ‘n Bees: Pollination Workshop at Irving House
    All Ages

    Have you ever wanted to learn about the benefits of the critters in your garden?  How do they help us grow food at home?  We’ve been busy at Irving House and want to share our secrets!  In relation to our current exhibit, You Are What You Eat: Community Food Security, and led by our friends at UNIBUG at Douglas College, this workshop explores our Heritage Gardens to teach you all about identifying and counting pollinators, conducting garden surveys, and understanding the benefits of garden insects.  Registration Required.

    SAT 10:30 am – 12:00 pm

    August 18       

    Free            23295


    Face Value – Caffeine Skincare

    16+ years

    In association with New Westminster Museum’s feature exhibition about food security, join us as we explore natural skincare using something many of us already have at home – coffee! In this hands-on workshop, students will make and take an exfoliating coffee n’ coconut sugar scrub, coffee n’ cream soap bar, coffee butter lip balm and a replenishing, toning body oil. This is a great class for all coffee lovers or anyone who needs a little natural ‘get up and go” added to their current skin care regime.  All supplies included.

    Anvil Centre | Studio 411A

    THU 6:00 – 8:00 pm

    July 23

    $33.80        22822

     
  • The New Westminster Archives is home to a documentary heritage that tells the story of New Westminster’s evolution from British Columbia’s first fledgling capital to a bustling 21st century city. Preserved for present and future generations are over 150 years of archival records that document local organizations, businesses, government, families, and individuals. Here you’ll find photographs, maps, plans, diaries, letters, city records, and oral histories. In the reading room there are reference files on people, properties, and subjects all related to the City of New Westminster.

    If you have questions about your family’s history, the age of your house, the development of your neighbourhood, the history of a New Westminster business, or about the administration of local government, the New Westminster Museum and Archives is the place to discover your heritage.

    Enquiries to the collections

    Click here to search over 18,000 Archival records using easy keyword searches. Email links, post images to your social media site or comment on records to our Archivist.

    Archives staff will also research a request for up to one hour in duration at no cost. Beyond one-hour, requestors are encouraged to conduct their own onsite access to archival records, with the assistance and supervision of archival staff. If self-research is not an option, you can contract archival research services at $60/hour.

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    Reproductions

    Photo Reproduction Request & Conditions

    Method of reproduction

    PRICE
    (tax extra)

    Scanned image emailed

    $12.81 

    Scanned image on supplied disc

    $14.78 

    Photocopy (per page)

     $0.36 

    Mailing in Canada

    $5.00

    Archive Research Fee

    $60.00

     

    All orders require advanced payment by cash, debit, VISA or MasterCard.

    Archives Hours

    Monday to Sunday: 10am – 5pm (Reading Room library open)

    Monday to Sunday: 12-5pm (Reference Services)

  • The Archives is pleased to offer an Archives Online service.

    Search over 18,000 Archival records using easy keyword searches. Email links, post images to your social media site or comment on records to our Archivist. Check back regularly as the Archives Online database will continue to grow as it represents only a portion of our collection.
  • Irving House Public Hours

    Wednesday to Sunday from 12 pm - 5 pm
    *Last entry at 4:30 pm.

    Private Tours

    Available by appointment. Please call 604.527.4640.

    Written Tours

    We are pleased to offer written tours of Irving House in the following languages:

    The Irving House script is translated by our wonderful volunteers. Please refer to the volunteer section of our website If you are interested in volunteering your time and skills to translate the script into additional languages.


    Located in the heart of the Royal City, Irving House is one of the oldest community heritage sites in BC. Step back to the 1800s as you enter the colonial home of Captain William Irving, King of the Fraser River. 

    Over 140 years of memories live within Irving House "…the handsomest, the best and most home-like house of which British Columbia can yet boast..." was how Irving House was described in the British Columbian newspaper in April 1865.

    With 14 furnished rooms to enjoy, Irving House is a must-see for everyone interested in New Westminster’s past and anyone interested in the Victorian and Edwardian periods, heritage architecture or colonial BC. 

    During your visit you will admire the ornate ceiling plasterwork, the glow of original wallpaper and the elaborate fireplaces. You can easily imagine the festivities and celebrations that took place in the parlour and formal dining room. Let our costumed guides step you back in time!

    You can also visit Irving House online through a Virtual Tour.


    Irving House Restoration Work

    Irving House was closed for restoration work from April 2-27, 2018, and reopened on April 28, 2018. The house’s entrance and upper hall were restored to the late Victorian Period, revealing papers not seen since the mid-20th century. 

    In 2009, while working with conservator Simone Vogel-Horridge, museum staff found original ca.1897-1903 papers in the entrance and upper hallway of the house — a 3-piece set of consisting of a wallpaper, 18” frieze, and a ceiling paper.  Last year, these stunning papers were meticulously redrawn and colour-matched by Stuart Stark, Heritage Consultant and wallpaper designer, to the original palette used in the house. They were then printed in England and shipped to New Westminster for installation. The hallway cornice work and entrance ceiling medallion will also be painted to match the original colour scheme as a complement to the papers.

    This work is part of an ongoing multi-year project to stabilize and restore Irving House to its original appearance at the turn of the 20th century. Since 2011, Irving House has received a new fire and electrical system along with a state of the art geothermal heating and cooling system. The exterior of the house has also been repaired and repainted to match the original ca.1900 colour scheme.  Last fall, Ms. Vogel-Horridge returned to clean and restore the rare and original gilded 1887 wallpapers in the house’s Small Parlour and will be returning this spring to do the same in the Large Parlour.  All work was completed at the end of May. 

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  • Samson V Public Hours

    Friday - Sunday, 12 - 5 pm
    Wednesday & Thursdays, 3 - 8 pm


    Samson V, launched in 1937, is the last surviving wooden steam-powered sternwheeler built for the federal Department of Public Works for use as a snag-boat on the Fraser River. At 418 gross tons and 115’ on deck, she was the fifth in a series of similar vessels dating back to 1884 that cleared debris, maintained aids to navigation and government docks, performed surveys and served other functions as needed.

    Samson V was the last steam-powered sternwheeler to operate in Canada and representative of a of the federal government’s long-standing involvement in maintaining the waterways of western Canada. The Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada has declared the operation of sternwheeler snag-boats by the Department of Public works on the rivers of British Columbia an event of national historic significance and in the future intends to commemorate this by means of a plaque installed on or near Samson V, “the last representative example” of these vessels.

    Samson V was retired in 1980 and sold to the City of New Westminster for one dollar on the understanding that the vessel would be preserved as a museum and that it occupy a unique place in the Province’s and City’s maritime heritage. Samson V remains the only completely intact and floating wooden sternwheeler in North America.

  • Depending on need, the museum welcomes volunteers (following a short interview and orientation). Opportunities include:

    Take the first step and submit a Volunteer Application form.

  • Do you have city-related photographs, family heirlooms or other objects from New Westminster’s history that you would like to donate to the museum and archives? 

    The benefit of donating archival and artefacts is the museum and archives ability to properly store and care for these items while enriching New Westminster's history to residents, visitors and researchers.

    Learn how to donate your items by contacting our or .

    Donation Policy

    Collection Policy