We recognise and respect that New Westminster is on the unceded and unsurrendered land of the Halkomelem speaking peoples. We acknowledge that colonialism has made invisible their histories and connections to the land. As a City, we are learning and building relationships with the people whose lands we are on.
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, 50,000 photographs, and 500 linear meters of archival records that celebrate and document our city’s 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.
The New Westminster Museum and Archives strive to enhance knowledge and deepen understanding of the City and its diverse peoples – from the First Nations cultures to the multicultural community of today – by illuminating past events, exploring current issues and facilitating conversations around future possibilities.
The New Westminster Museum and Archives will:
collect, preserve and house the objects, archival materials, natural history specimens and collective memories that best serve to illustrate the first peoples, environment, founding, settlement, relationships and development of the New Westminster area;
research, make available, interpret and exhibit its collections for the use and benefit of the public;
engage with all peoples and organisations that can inform and support the narratives of the New Westminster area.
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.
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.
To find out more about New Westminster history, please visit these pages:
Through three installations, Reconciling addresses truths attached to acts of reconciliation. Haida/Nisga’a artist Luke Parnell explores a feeling of disenchantment through his piece Neon Reconciliation Explosion; the downed statue of Judge Begbie addresses the imposition of foreign laws on a land; and the 215 shoes placed at New Westminster’s cenotaph reflects our community’s response to the Residential School legacy in Canada.
Programs with this exhibition
Neon Reconciliation Explosion Field Trip
We have worked with Luke to create an interactive activity for students. Students will receive an inquiry-based tour of the exhibition and can then reflect, create, and connect with what reconciliation means to them.
Each visit is 75 minutes.
We welcome up to 30 students max.
Rebeca Salas, Heritage Programs Coordinator; firstname.lastname@example.org
Artist Talk: Neon Reconciliation Explosion with Luke Parnell (All Ages)
Luke Parnell is Laxgiik (Eagle) from Wilps Kwa’kaans on his mother side and Haida from Massett on his Fathers side, his Nisga’a name is Guxw Gahlgan (always carving).
Join Luke as he speaks to his work, Neon Reconciliation Explosion. Parnell created this project with over 55 community members, the goal of the project was to gain a greater understanding of what reconciliation was.
This talk kicks off our feature exhibition, Reconciling.
Attend in person or virtually via Zoom.
Gallery 7 (Museum at Anvil Centre) & Streamed via Zoom 604.527.4640
Thursday, Feb 17
7:00 - 8:30pm Course ID 131736
CELEBRATING BLACK HISTORY IN CANADA THROUGH TESSELLATION AND PORTRAITURE
Gallery 2 (Anvil Centre)
February 2 – June 19 2022
Moved by a push for greater social justice, NWSS Art students researched prominent figures from Black History in Canada and share their contributions in black and white tessellation patterns and portraits. Equal parts ‘black’ and ‘white’ in these works challenges a Eurocentric-lens that is too often applied when discussing history by featuring People of Colour (POC) and Black Canadians in an equally starring role. Each student provides a thoughtful artist statement with their portrait.
This exhibition replicates the original class work, design, and display.
Part 1: Virtual Tour & Cleaning Best Practices (All Ages)
Join Archie Miller from A Sense of History Research Services Inc. as he leads a virtual tour about the history of Fraser Cemetery and individual gravestone. Then join our experienced staff as they lead a tutorial outlining how to preserve and clean gravestones using best. Q & A to follow.
Part 2: Cemetery Preservation Project at Fraser Cemetery (All Ages)
Spend time outside connecting to nature and your community by helping to preserve the City’s grave markers. Under the guidance of museum staff, local groups and individuals clean gravestones using best practices. Please meet at the main office.
Fraser Cemetery, 100 Richmond Street 604.527.4640
Saturdays & Sundays, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
July 9 - July 17
Registration Fee: Free
Rediscover your community alongside local storytellers. Walk alongside local Teacher-Librarian, Janis, as she shares her journey to research and uncover her Japanese Canadian identity and heritage in New Westminster.
Kids will explore the secrets of garden fairies as they discover the age-old mysteries inspired by the stories and rhymes of fairy frolic. An afternoon of fairy lore and fun with garden games and crafts will captivate young minds and hearts. Irving House 604.527.4640
Saturday, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
Registration Fee: Free
Register: Course ID 144272
Hangouts and Hidden Histories: Sixth Street Walking Tour (All Ages)
Starting at Sixth and Tenth Streets, discover sites of community significance along your guided downhill journey to Front Street. Ending downtown, participants are encouraged to discuss these hidden histories over lunch.
Discover artefacts on an embroidery-themed tour of Irving House and draw inspiration for your own projects. Learn four embroidery methods from our experienced instructor – basic stitches, chicken scratch, cross stitch, and silk ribbon. All supplies included.
Every two months, discuss literature and culture as you sip tea and chat with the club at Irving House. We read literary works by the Brontes, Charles Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson, Oscar Wilde, H. G. Wells, Joseph Conrad, Henry James, Mark Twain and others. This is the perfect opportunity to join other enthusiasts in your community.
Johnny Bandura is a Coast Salish artist who has created a series of 215 portraits that were inspired by his own family. His paternal Grandmother, Marie, was born in New Westminster and as a very young girl, she was taken from her home and family and sent to the Kamloops Indian Residential School in the 1930s. In May 2021, when the news reported that the skeletal remains of 215 children were discovered on the grounds of the Kamloops Residential School, Johnny recognized that many of these lost 215 children could well have been his grandmother’s classmates and friends and he felt a very strong need to do something to honour these children.
So, Johnny began painting. He painted to work through the pain, grief, and sadness. The first
painting he completed was of a medicine woman, the second was of a hunter. These two portraits flowed easily from him, and he saw that they reflected the traditional way of life, before residential schools existed. But he couldn’t stop with these two portraits. He wanted to paint a portrait for each of the 215 children to reflect the life that they never that the chance to live. He painted the children as adults because he strongly felt they were speaking to him; he felt they wanted to be viewed as more than just children in uniforms. He wanted to let them grow up in his portraits and let them be something that they never got to be. He gave them lives that were both traditional as well as modern. He painted a Pow Wow Grass Dancer in traditional regalia and a Judge in courtroom robes. He painted doctors, nurses, Fancy Dancers, punk rockers, and hockey players.
He imagined lives for them that reflected all areas of society. He created an exhibit to show what they could have become.
NEW WEST TOGETHER DURING COVID-19
A new exhibit on the community’s resilience during the pandemic.
Gallery 7 at New Westminster Museum 3rd floor Anvil Centre
Tuesday March 31, 2021 – Sunday September 5, 2021
DO YOU HAVE MORE INFO?
Do you know the story behind a photo in the exhibition? Do you want to share your experiences of the pandemic?
Stories from the past and present in New Westminster to help us understand how people eat in our community.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Explore downtown New Westminster on a self-guided walking tour of public art. A virtual map will reveal pictures, information, activities and games related to each piece of public art. This unique, virtual experience was developed by the New Media Gallery, Heritage and Art Services.
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.
About Irving House
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!
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.
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.
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 .
Archives Reading Room and Research Inquiries available by appointment. Please e-mail
The New Westminster Archives acquires, preserves, and makes accessible records that tell our story. The archives is home to a documentary heritage that documents 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, residence, the development of your neighbourhood, the history of a New Westminster business, or about the administration of the local government, the New Westminster Museum and Archives is the place to discover your heritage.
Enquiries to the collections
Click here to search over 90,000 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.
Search the Archival holdings 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.
The New Westminster Museum and Archives is documenting Covid-19 pandemic in New Westminster and reaching out to community members to collect both physical objects and digital documentation, and thus document history as it happens.
The curator, Oana Capota, invites residents to make suggestions for what they would like to see preserved by emailing . Though donations are not possible at this time due to safety, the curator will work with potential donors to write profiles of the objects and what they mean. Objects can then be brought into the museum at a future date.
The museum also encourages citizens to keep diaries of this time and/or to contribute to a community diary, using the hashtag #nwcovidlife. During this time of social isolation, keeping a journal also has benefits for mental health.
Oral History Interviews
In addition, the museum is looking to make audio and video recordings of people’s experiences during Covid-19. People from a broad base of different backgrounds are invited to come together and share their experiences through a recorded video conference interview. The interviews could either be one-on-one with a museum staff member or as part of a community program.
Virtual Story Gathering – People from a broad base of different backgrounds will be invited to come together and share their experiences of the pandemic through a recorded video conference interview. Participants will listen to stories, then tell their own story, in this process of collective reflection and building community in isolation. (Monday June 22, 2020 from 6 – 7pm, register by emailing ).
If you, or anyone you know have an experience to share about our city’s COVID experience, please contact the museum at 604-527-4640 or . Please also fill in the following form: Virtual_Story_Sharing_Application_Form.pdf.