in the City of New Westminster
than a century, photographers have captured "views from the Fraser"
from canoes, steamboats and the opposing shore. These waterfront skylines
dramatically chronicle the growth of New Westminster from a "stump city"
to an urban centre. Benchmarks of this change can be seen in photographs
of Columbia Street taken through the decades. A streetscape of wooden
buildings gives way to more substantial brick and stone edifices. After
1911, Columbia Street's dirt surface is paved, and sophisticated streetlights
installed. Transportation shifts from the horse and wagon, to the streetcar,
to the automobile. From time to time, the view from the Fraser has been
significantly altered due to circumstances that caused the city to build,
and then rebuild.
Engineers under the command of Colonel Moody established a Treasury,
Assay Office and Mint, to serve the gold rushes of the Fraser River
and the Cariboo, and what was to become the capital of British Columbia.
In 1868, when the capital was moved from New Westminster to Victoria,
these buildings met their demise.
fire of 1898 dealt a devastating blow to a thriving New Westminster.
The inferno raged for an entire evening. By the time it was contained
early the next morning, its flames had engulfed the entire downtown.
Today the Guichon and Burr blocks (now The Met) at Fourth Street and
Columbia Street demarcate where the fire stopped. The speed at which
New Westminster started to rebuild herself, at first with makeshift
business premises, is testimony to her courage. The town's amazing survival
sparked the Columbian newspaper of September 9, 1899, to wax poetic,
proclaiming the "new Royal City, with pluck true and gritty/ Rose phoenix-like
from the wreck."
the influence of the ever-growing metropolis of Vancouver was felt,
New Westminster was truly the commercial and social hub of the Fraser
Valley. Queen's Park became the site for the provincial, as well as
the dominion exhibitions, which featured agricultural and industrial
accomplishments. The farmer's market was always packed with people and
business was so lucrative on Columbia Street that by the mid 1940s it
was known as the "Golden Mile".
buildings and houses standing today remind us of our past. Moody's well-laid
plan and mapping of this area is reflected in large stately house lots
and tree-lined boulevards, particularly in the Queen's Park area. It
can also be seen in the presence of lovely gardens throughout the city.
in the following pages capture the building and life of a city.