Queen’s Park neighbourhood was one of New Westminster’s original suburban areas. In 1859, the Royal Engineers marked out the area that is now known as Queen’s Park. This included road allowances for wide streets and landscaped boulevards. The area soon began to attract various merchants and entrepreneurs who sought a prestigious location to live away from the noise and pollution of the downtown area. The first house in the neighbourhood was constructed in 1862, with many more following. The area retained its status as one of the most prestigious neighbourhoods in the region until the Great Depression hit in the 1930’s. During this time, many homeowners were not able to pay their property taxes. Because of this, many homes were reverted to the city and often torn down.
Fortunately, many of the homes in the neighbourhood did survive this period. In the 1970’s,the trend to demolish and replace New Westminster’s old buildings was popular again. This was the catalyst for the creation of the New Westminster Heritage Preservation Society. The organization wanted to encourage homeowners and commercial interests to work with New West’s old buildings to preserve their unique characteristics instead of replacing them with modern structures. This organization is also known for developing the annual Heritage Homes Tour, an event that raises funds, awareness, and appreciation for beautiful and functional heritage homes. And the people responded– in May 2019, the New Westminster Heritage Preservation society held their 40th annual homes tour.
Today you can stroll through the neighbourhood and admire the architecture and historical significance of the homes in Queens Park. The neighbourhood is not just enjoyed by residents, but serves as a regional resource in the sense that people come from all over to walk its streets and explore its adjacent park.
On the southern border of the neighbourhood, make sure to check out Irving House. Constructed in 1860, this served as the home of Captain William Irving and is now one of the oldest community heritage sites in BC. The building is operated by the New Westminster Museum. You are able to enter the site and admire the ornate ceiling plasterwork, the glow of original wallpaper, and the elaborate fireplaces. Guides in full historical attire appropriate to the era are available throughout the house to help bring the stories of the home’s inhabitants to life.
Hi! My name is Lucas Silva and I am very excited to be spending the summer working as Tourism Ambassador for Tourism New Westminster! I am currently studying Political Science in the honours department at the University of British Columbia. In addition to my interest in politics, I’ve always enjoyed studying history, and although I’m new to learning the ins and outs of New Westminster’s past, I’m looking forward to being given the chance to discover it with you!