People of New Westminster
the camera's eye, you can glimpse a cross-section of the people of New
Westminster. Many of the customs, social, and intellectual pursuits
of the day have been captured in photographs.
before the city developed, the seeds of culture were sewn. New Westminster
was founded by the Royal Engineers. In 1858, a contingent of Royal Engineers
set sail from England aboard the "Thames City", accompanied by "a valuable
library of excellent works". These books, selected by Colonel Bulwer
Lytton, were considered civilizing amenities for men going into the
wilderness. Eventually the books became a cornerstone for the Library's
collection. The Royal Engineers not only brought their provisions and
specialized talents to our shores, but part of their own familiar culture
Westminster's British heritage is reflected in events held today. As
part of the Hyack Festival, New Westminster maintains the English tradition
of May Day. The Ancient and Honourable Hyack Anvil Battery still gives
a unique anvil "21 gun" salute to the Queen on Victoria Day. Children
continue to perform the traditional English folk dances introduced at
the 1915 May Day by Beatrice Cave-Brown-Cave. New Westminster's first
May Day was rather colourfully described in the Mainland Guardian
newspaper of May 7, 1870: "Old Sol got up on Wednesday morning rather
hazily, as if he had a 'drop in his eye' but as Dick Swiveller would
say, the 'old man was agreeable' and looked down with sort of a quaint
smile till the amusements of the day were over."
New Westminster's roots are British, its branches involve many other
cultures. Out of the same woods occupied by First Nations people for
thousands of years, rose the 1st capital of British Columbia. Successive
waves of immigration have resulted in various ethnic and religious groups
enriching our society with their own heritage and traditions.
is a long history of music in New Westminster. One of the earliest ensembles
was a Bell Ringers' club that performed on the peal of eight bells.
These bells were installed in Holy Trinity Church in 1865. Over the
years, bands, choirs, and symphony orchestras have all enjoyed performing.
One of the most memorable groups was the Westminster Operatic Club,
which began its productions in 1914. They enthusiastically performed
Gilbert & Sullivan in full costume, complete with elaborate sets.
citizens of New Westminster loved to play. There are a number of photographs
of steamboats chock full of passengers, cruising the waters of the Fraser
River in search of the perfect picnic spot. Sports have always been
popular, particularly lacrosse which was played as early as the 1880's.
One highlight was the participation of the Salmonbellies at the 1928
Olympic Lacrosse Championship in Amsterdam.
of this colourful history will speak for itself in the sample of photographs