Are you in need of a getaway? Well, the time is finally here to start your vacation close to home! We welcome you to New Westminster, the first capital of British Columbia. Keep reading to find where to go explore to learn about the early years of our beloved Royal City.
Arundel Mansion is a charming Edwardian era style hotel located in the heart of Downtown New Westminster. The property was built in 1910 and features one-bedroom suites with full kitchens and separate living rooms. This unique hotel is the perfect place to stay to immerse yourself into what life was like over a hundred years ago.
Explore our neighbourhoods. Each neighbourhood in the Royal City played a part in the early development of the province.
Sapperton is the oldest neighbourhood and where everything began. Take a walk along Sapperton Landing to learn about the mighty Fraser River and how it played a major role in Sapperton’s development. Mosey on up to the BC Penitentiary site to what remains of the 146-year-old building. Further up on Richmond Street is the Fraser Cemetery which was created in the 1870s to replace a smaller cemetery, with many of the headstones moved to the new site. The oldest stone is dated 1860, and many have stories about where the person came from and how they lived and died. Also in Sapperton is one of the province’s oldest churches, St. Mary the Virgin Anglican Church, built in 1865.
The Queens Park neighbourhood has 416 heritage homes protected within the heritage conservation area that were built in 1940 or earlier and are still being lived in. Embark on a walking tour of your own to see the oldest residential homes in New Westminster. Just past the beautiful Tipperary Park is the Armoury, the only wood built drill hall in Canada and home to some incredible artifacts. And of course, you must visit Queens Park, dubbed the “Peoples Park” by Col. Moody, which still holds one of the original buildings, the Vagabond Theatre. If heritage residential buildings pique your interest, be sure to walk by the Irving house on Royal Ave and the William Clarkson House on 314 Pine Street.
Downtown New West has always been a dense commercial district in the city. It was fully developed by the time the city became incorporated in 1860 until it was burned to the ground almost completely in The Great Fire of 1898. Only two of the original buildings that survived the fire remain today. Walking down Columbia street you are surrounded by stunning buildings, many of which are the heritage buildings that were rebuilt after the great fire. Keep your eyes open for some of the oldest buildings in the area: the Burr Block Building, The Canadian Bank of Commerce, and the Guichon Block.
Kelly O’Bryan’s is a bustling restaurant located in what was once the Canadian Pacific Railroad Station. In 1886 the CPR extended a line to New Westminster which sparked a boom in the local development. This building represents the importance of rail transportation and how big of a role that played in the early years of the Royal City. Located just beside the restaurant are Hyack Square and the old British Columbia Electric Railway Company building. Not only does the building have a long history, but they offer an excellent menu including their signature appy – pachos – they are a must-try! Open for dine-in and takeout.
Bruncheria Cafe is an artisan restaurant nestled inside of one of the oldest heritage buildings in Downtown New West. They serve exclusively brunch dishes, with unique options like their brunch fries and bowls. Open for takeout and available for delivery via Skip the Dishes.
The Met Bar and Grill is located in the Burr Block Building. Built in 1892, it is one of the oldest buildings in Downtown New Westminster and one of the two which survived the great fire of 1898. This European style pub also includes a heated garden patio where you can taste a variety of their specialty drinks such as the Polar Bear hot beverage, a boozy Toblerone milkshake, or some of their specialty shooters.
The Paddlewheeler Pub is located on the boardwalk and has a prime view of the Samson V sternwheeler snagboat which was in operation from 1937 to 1980. The heritage paddlewheeler boat museum is not currently open for tours of the inside but it is still quite impressive to see from the outside. While viewing this unique historical boat from the Paddlewheeler’s award-winning patio, enjoy a beer from one of their 22 taps and a bucket of chicken wings on Wing Wednesday.
We hope you enjoy exploring the Royal City and learning about our rich history. If you haven’t already read the rest of the Staycation series, catch up on what to do in Downtown New West, Sapperton, Queenborough, and Uptown New West.