Begin at the Columbia SkyTrain Station, adjacent to two historic downtown buildings at the corner of 4th Street and Columbia.
The Queens or Guichon Hotel and the Burr Block (now the beautifully restored Met Hotel) were the only two commercial buildings still standing on Columbia Street after a Great Fire destroyed the downtown portion of the city in 1898. Look for the bronze plaque placed in 1998 to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Fire. After admiring these lovely buildings, head up 4th Street (take it slow!) and along Carnarvon to see the impressive stone Holy Trinity Cathedral. The current church building dates from 1899, after the Great Fire, but the first Holy Trinity was on this site in 1860 as a log building.
Continue along Carnarvon to see New Westminster’s Courthouses, old and new. The red brick courthouse on the left was originally built in 1892, and was designed by prominent local architect G.W. Grant. Gutted by the 1898 fire, the roofline was redesigned in 1899 as you see it today. It was closed in the early 1980’s, upon the completion of the modern new court facilities across the street. Be sure to notice the imposing statue of Justice. Take the stairs in Begbie Square, past the statue of Sir Matthew Bailie Begbie, British Columbia’s first judge, who helped to bring law and order to the frontier colony from the 1850’s to the 1890’s.
Jog to the left at Agnes, then up Seventh Street, to see St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, featuring beautiful stained glass windows by famous Bloomfield Glass, a local firm that also did many of the stained glass windows in Victoria’s Parliament Buildings. Continue right, along Royal Avenue, to New Westminster’s City Hall. The view from the front steps is spectacular. Don’t miss the lamp standard at the top of the stairs on the right. It was a gift to New Westminster from Westminster, England in 1960. Proceed inside and up the stairs to view the portrait gallery of past and present Mayors of New Westminster.
Behind City Hall, at the corner of Queens Avenue and 6th Street, is the Armoury of the Royal Westminster Regiment. Stop in for a visit at the Regimental Museum, housed in the old gun room, for a look at the City’s military past. Enjoy some lovely character homes along Queens Avenue and down Eighth Street as you head towards Douglas College for a panoramic view from its spacious lookout.
Finish up your walk with a saunter down historic Columbia Street. Lined with brick and stone buildings, many dating from the turn of the century, Columbia Street was once known as the Miracle Mile, when it was the mercantile centre for the Fraser Valley. As you walk up Columbia Street, look up to the roof levels, as many of the buildings feature interesting architectural detail and fancywork. Be sure to see the newly restored buildings at the corner of Lorne Street and Columbia, now painted in authentic colours and style. Take the time to browse the many unique shops and boutiques, as you enjoy this character area of New Westminster.