Saturday, 11 June 2011

Walking Tour of New Westminster, British Columbia

Wednesday afternoon while the boys were at Circus School, I went on a short Walking tour of New Westminster - named the first capital of the colony of British Columbia in 1859 although it lost out to Victoria as capitol when BC and Vancouver Island amalgamated. To the right you see the 1899-built Canadian Pacific Railway station, looking like a hobbit could live there. Now it has been turned into a Keg Restaurant.

Over a foot bridge you reach the boardwalk along the Fraser River, the River Market (housing Vancouver Circus School) and the Discovery Centre. There is an imposing bust of Simon Fraser marking his 1808 river voyage of discovery through the heart of B.C. The Fraser River is still an active thoroughfare with working boats and floating flocks of logs.

Back along the boardwalk is this 32foot, 5 ton world's largest tin soldier which marks the spot where the region's first attachment of British Royal Engineers arrived on shore is 1859. They stayed for 4 years developing the infrastructure of the colonial area.  Past the tin soldier, you see the Discovery Centre and then continue along Antique Alley which now has mostly storefronts in disrepair but was a bustling 2035 Chicago street in the movie, I-Robot with Will Smith.

1911 Bank of Commerce Building
Along Columbia Street, which was known as BC's Miracle Mile, you pass the 1911 Canadian Bank of Commerce Building, the Burr Theatre (named for Raymond Burr of Ironside fame - you have to be older to get that one),  the Queen's Hotel and the Burr block. The latter 2 buildings are the only downtown structures that survived the 1898 fire that destroyed much of the downtown.

Queen's Hotel (1887)
Burr Block (1892)

Up a steep hill from Columbia Street is the Anglican Holy Trinity Church established in 1859

 The City Hall sits on Royal Ave on property that was set aside for  the Provincial government. It is "guarded" by a pair of field howitzers brought from the UK aboard the HMS Sparrowhawk, in case of attack. 

The tour ends at the clapboard, Gothic-style Irving House. Build in 1865, it's New West's oldest building and was built for the Scottish-born riverboat trader William Irving and his family. It now serves at BC's oldest museum. 

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