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.
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:
Every Friday afternoon this summer, families can visit Irving House and pick up fun crafts for all ages to take home and enjoy. While you’re at the house, take a free tour and discover New Westminster’s storied heritage. Irving House
Fridays July & Aug *TIME UPDATE: 3:00 - 7:00pm
Reserve your spot here
Hit the Dirt! (Age 4 - 6 years)
Explore Irving House and learn how this historic family used plants and trees in their everyday lives. Get your hands dirty, plant seeds and make a garden marker to match. Harvest fresh vegetables from our Heritage Kitchen Garden to have a veggie tasting party Irving House
Saturday, Aug 7
10:00am - 12:00pm
Register here: Course ID 93749
Culinary Heritage: Chinese Cuisine in the Community Kitchen (All Ages)
Join an experienced participant from the Community Kitchen of Family Services of Greater Vancouver as she shares her favourite traditional Chinese recipe, Chinese Dumplings. During the cooking lesson, we will discuss the cultural heritage behind the recipe. Virtual via Zoom
Thursday, August 12
6:00 - 7:00 pm
Register for free here: Course ID 93743
Visit the Family Services of Greater Vancouver here
A Photographic Tour of Panoramic New Westminster (All Ages)
Panorama photographs often go unused and unseen due to their incredible width. Thanks to modern technology, Registrar Allan Blair will show these difficult photos in slow pans across the image. For the last 30 years, Allan has digitized and conserved roughly 40,000 archival images. Virtual via Zoom
Thursday, August 19
6:00 - 7:00 pm
Register for free here: Course ID 93746
Hangouts and Hidden History: A Virtual Tour of Carnarvon Street (All Ages)
Did you know that parts of Carnarvon Street used to be bustling with businesses and people? Join our experienced volunteer, Sakura, as she leads you on a virtual tour of locations like the old public library and Chinatown. Each participant will be e-mailed a map of the locations covered during the program to take a self-guided walking tour. Virtual via Zoom
Thursday, August 26
6:00 - 7:00 pm
Register for free here: Course ID 93747
Virtual Victorian Book Club (14+ years) Our Victorian book club has gone virtual! Every two months, discuss literature and culture as you sip tea and video chat with the club from home. 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 - online! Virtual Program via Zoom Saturday, July 24 The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde 1:00-2:00 pm
Currently on exhibit at the New Westminster Museum and Archives:
In the Feature Gallery at the New Westminster Museum:
Our Living Languages
Until Thursday July 29, 2021
Learn what First Nations communities throughout the province are doing to help 34 different languages survive and flourish, in Our Living Languages, a beautifully designed exhibition from the Royal BC Museum and First Peoples’ Cultural Council that celebrates the resilience and diversity of Indigenous languages in the face of change.
This project has been made possible in part by the Government of Canada. Ce projet a été rendu possible en partie grace au gouvernement du Canada.
In Gallery 7 at the New Westminster Museum:
New West Together During Covid-19
Until Sunday September 5, 2021
A new exhibit on the community’s resilience during the pandemic.
Archives Reading Room and Research Inquiries available by appointment. Please e-mail
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 22,000 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 over 22,000 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.
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.
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.
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 .
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.
SFU Philosopher’s Café – Getting the Word Out, Part 1
In association with New Westminster Museum’s feature exhibition, Getting the Word Out: Printing in New Westminster, discuss relevant philosophical issues with members of your community. The printed word has long-held a powerful authority and transformative potential around the world. How do you view the power of print and where do you see it headed? Participants are encouraged to visit the exhibition before the café begins.
16+ years New Westminster Museum
Wednesday November 21 6:00-7:30pm Free
Moderator: Valerie Malla
Read All About It
In association with New Westminster Museum’s feature exhibition, Getting the Word Out, join New Westminster archivist Barry Dykes as he presents and discusses the archives’ newspaper collection ranging from the 1870s up to the modern era. Barry will explain the value of historic newspapers, the importance of preserving them, and how modern technologies are making them widely accessible.
All Ages Anvil Centre Studio 411A
Saturday February 9 11:00am-12:00pm By Donation 16633
Protest & Propaganda: Printmaking Workshop
Learn about New Westminster’s history of printmaking and propaganda in our museum gallery, then create a relief print of your own New Westminster-inspired propaganda poster during this hands-on printmaking workshop. All supplies included.
18+yrs Anvil Centre Studio 411A
Thursday February 28 6:30-8:00pm $16 16610
SFU Philosopher’s Café – Getting the Word Out, Part 2
In association with New Westminster Museum’s feature exhibition, Getting the Word Out, discuss relevant philosophical issues with members of your community. How do we get access to correct information via the main-stream media outlets? Are they reliable? Is there such a thing as "fake news"? What are the effects of propaganda? Finally, what is our responsibility to ensure that healthy and responsible communications are part of our real experiences?
16+yrs New Westminster Museum
Wednesday March 6 6:00-7:30pm Free
Moderator: Valerie Malla
The Changing Face of Journalism: Panel Discussion
How has the role of journalists and our local newspapers changed since the 1990s, especially in the age of digital news? In association with New Westminster Museum’s feature exhibition, Getting the Word Out, join Mario Bartel and a group of local panelists as they discuss their combined decades of experience telling stories and connecting communities in the Greater Vancouver Area.
All Ages Anvil Centre Studio 411A
Saturday March 9 11:00am-12:00pm By Donation 16632
This is an image of a street car on Columbia Street in the early 1900s. Street car and interurban lines ran in New Westminster from 1909 to 1948. Controlled by the British Columbia Electric Railway, the lines ran up 8th and 6th Street, East on Columbia Street, up 12th Street, through Queen’s Park neighbourhood, and through Sapperton. Image from New Westminster Archives NWPL1777
Click on the image for the full-sized Zoom background.