Diamond in The Rough | 24th August 2011 | 20:23 PDT

There were five reasons why I went to New Westminster today, which is four more reasons than I had that made me want to visit Vancouver. Those reasons were:
  -  It was recommended to me.
  -  It's off the beaten track.
  -  Has a fairly interesting history.
  -  There's some unusual shops.
  -  I could massage my awesome ego.

The city was established in 1858 when Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia, Richard Moody came along and went “Here seems nice, I shall call it Queensborough”, The Queen went “Alright, but lets call it New Westminster” so it became to be called The Royal City.

To pay for the building of the city and not to siphon out all the money form the colonial budget, import duties were put in place, unfortunately Victoria on Vancouver Island had free port access and strangled the growth of the city.

When Vancouver Island was integrated into British Columbia, there couldn't be two capitals and a heavy discussion was created within the House of Assembly to choose which would be the capital. This descended to opposition parties shuffling speech notes and popping out glasses lenses, after a break to calm down a near chap riot, the New Westminster supporter wasn't granted a second chance from the House of Assembly Speaker (and Victoria local). Voting went to Victoria's favor and won its capital status.

I wasn't there, but it probably looked a little like this (via mullerover.com)

From the 1870s to 1900s New Westminster would be kicked in the teeth repeatability through time, when railway company, Canada Pacific Railway would favour Vancouver and its port to be it's terminus town, a smallpox epidemic would hit the town and a fire would destroy most of downtown – New Westminster managed to pick itself up through being the place for retail and entertainment, when road travel was less than adequate to get to Vancouver, but in the 1960s New Westminster would be smashed in the balls with a browbar when the new freeway would bypass the city, more or less killing it. From then, it has been trying to pick itself up ever since.

When I was here, I felt like I was walking through a Sunday, everything was a few steps towards relaxation, even though it's a little bit rough around the edges. Take a river walk exploring new developments that look like a tiny Venice, admire paddle boats, seals swimming, Asian fishermen, ugly bridges, a newly renovated market and a giant playmobil character... Fair enough.

If you're going to have a tourist attracting, make it a big red man!

Heading inland to Columbia Street, I'm greeted with fantastic selection of heritage buildings and theatres, mature trees hide the modern highrises adding to the whole experience of being thrown back into another time, passing bars, restaurants, English produce store, vegan clothing and deli shop and many wedding and suit fitters, which I wasn't surprised by as this street is nicknamed Bridal Way.


I walk back to the waterfront along a street called Front Street and you're greeted with a totally different scene. The road is completely roofed by an elevated car park that blocks out the sun, making it a very moody and atmospheric place to be, no wonder it's been used in I, Robot and Shooter and many other films. It also has a high proportion of antique and second-hand stores you could spend hours in, very bizarre (in a very good way) place to be. There's also an old sign along this street left over from the now shut theatre called 'Burr Theatre', that used to be run by local resident Raymond Burr.

It's so atmospheric maaaan

My time was up and I had to leave, it's a place that's disjointed and finding it's feet, but it has a lot going for it, it's great to see those new developments are being sympathetic to the old buildings and I hope they continue to preserve them, unlike Vancouver. In 2012 this will be a great place to be (when most of the developments are finished) – I just hope the general populous agrees and sees.

...Walk by a river

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