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City of New Westminster

Around City Hall

A Self-Guided Walking Tour

New Westminster City Hall was opened on November 19, 1953, in what was a major locational change for the centre of civic government in this City. Prior to this date, City Halls had all been downtown. The new city hall was built in a block which was originally destined to be the site of the Capital buildings when New Westminster was Capital of what is now the Province of British Columbia. For many years this property was undeveloped land, then home to the Armoury (still sharing the block today) and a small fire hall and storage shed (both long gone), and from 1912 to 1955, the site of the Duke of Connaught High School. From 1953 to 1955 the school and city hall stood side by side, until the school was demolished.

Inside City Hall

1. Plaque and Royal Engineers’ Coat of Arms
In the main foyer is the 1953 dedication plaque which lists those people involved with the building’s construction and operation. Also, very prominent on the wall, is a large representation of the coat of arms of the Royal Engineers who founded and surveyed the City from 1859 to 1863.

2. Mayors and Presidents
On the second floor of City Hall is a photo gallery of the Mayors, and Presidents, as they were once called, of New Westminster. The list begins in 18
60 with Leonard McClure, our first head of local municipal government, and continues up to the present day. Also on the second floor is a beautiful illuminated scroll, describing the Coat of Arms of the City.

Outside City Hall

3. Gas Lamps
The Gas Lamps at the front doors of City Hall were presented by the Lord Mayor of Westminster, England, on the occasion of a visit to the Royal City. They are actual lamps which once lighted the streets of “old” Westminster.

4. John Robson
This commemorative sign by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada honours John Robson, newspaperman, who was Mayor of New Westminster (1866/67) and Premier of the Province of British Columbia (1889-1892)

5. Time Capsule
This time capsule was placed in 1961 by Mayor Beth Wood. It contains material relating to the Centennial Year records of the City of New Westminster and is to be opened in January, 2061.

6. Flag poles on the City Hall roof
These poles fly the flags of Canada (middle), British Columbia (right), and the City of New Westminster (left).

7. Roses
This array of roses is dedicated to the Presidents of the Hyack Festival Association from 1971 to present. Each year a new rose is presented by the Portland Rose Rosarians, marking the friendship between the two groups.

8. Cenotaph
The cenotaph, located in Memorial Plaza, commemorates members of the Armed Services and Merchant Navy who gave their lives in the service of Canada. The cenotaph was unveiled in 1922 near the corner of McBride Boulevard and Columbia St. Later it was moved close to the entrance to the Pattullo Bridge, and then to its current location when this City Hall was built. Included are names from World War I, World War II, Korean War, Merchant Navy, and Peacekeeping Members.

9. Duke of Connaught High School
Situated at this location from 1912 until 1955, was the Duke of Connaught High School, the corner stone of which was laid by the Duke himself on an official visit in 1912. The school’s playground was located approximately where the parking lot is behind City Hall.

10. Cosmic May Pole
This Cosmic May Pole was created by Georganna Malloff in 1976 as part of a Vancouver Habitat Forum. Due to New Westminster’s close association with May Day, the piece was acquired by the City after the conference ended and was re-erected here in May of 1980.

11. Quezon Marker
This marker commemorates Quezon City in the Philippines, New Westminster’s sister city since 1991.

12. Flag pole
This pole flies the flag of the Philippines in recognition of the sister City arrangement with Quezon.

13. Moriguchi Marker
In 1963, New Westminster and Moriguchi, Japan, became sister cities, the first twinning of a Canadian and a Japanese City in Canada. This marker commemorates that achievement which continues through regular visits by delegations and student exchanges.

14. The Friendship Garden
In 1962, this area was a forested grove behind City Hall. That year a typhoon blew through the area and uprooted many large trees leaving huge holes where their roots had been torn up. A member of the Parks and Recretion Department’s gardening staff knew and loved Japanese water gardens, and so the holes on the newly “damaged” landscape, gently sloping across the property, were redeveloped into a beautiful garden. This area is now known as the Friendship Garden, a favourite place for those seeking quiet contemplation and picturesque views, and for those looking for a special place for wedding photos.

15. The Peace Marker
A marker for Peace in four languages – English, French, Spanish, Chinese.

16. Commemorative trees
There are a number of such trees throughout the park.

17. Tipperary Park
Across the parking lot is Tipperary Park, identified in 1859 to 1863, along with many other areas in the City, by the Columbia Detachment of Royal Engineers, as park and government reserves. Today it offers a quiet place with picnic tables, benches, pathways, and is the home of the New Westminster Tennis Club. The area of Friendship Garden was also once known as a part of Tipperary Park.

18. Street bricks
The bricks which form the sidewalk alongside the parking area were once the pavement of 4th Street, the road closed to make way for the present parking lot at this location. While no accurate date for the pavement bricks is known, they are considered to date from around 1900.

19. The Armoury
Opened in 1896, the Armoury has served military and community needs, in war and in peace, throughout its life. The home of the Royal Westminster Regiment, the Armoury has been the site of such varied events as early city basketball games, vegetable exhibitions, a dinner for Winston Churchill, gala celebrations, and an emergency supply centre after the City’s Great Fire of 1898. Its military obligations encompass conflicts from the Boer War to the present including peacekeeping throughout the world.

20. Cannon
This sixty-four pounder muzzle-loader was once mounted in the Gun Room of the Armoury to be used in the defence of the City. It is a Sea-Service weapon from the lower gundeck of a line-of-battleship. For Land-Service, apart from static use in a fort, it would need a very heavy wheeled carriage for mobility.

21. Monument
This monument identifies the home of the Royal Westminster Regiment and the Regimental Museum

22. The Museum of the Royal Westminster Regiment
Located in the old gun room of the Armoury, this museum chronicles the history of the Regiment and its antecedent groups. When visiting the Museum be sure to look at the many dedications and plaques on the walls of the Armoury itself, apart from the Museum. Access to the Museum is gained from inside the Armoury.

23. Victoria Cross Winners
This commemorative trilingual (English, French, Ukranian) marker notes the two Victoria Cross winners who served with the Regiment or an antecedent group: Jack Mahony (Westminster Regiment) and Filip Konowal (47th Canadian Infantry Battalion).

24. “Tim”
This marker, dedicated to Tim Mahony, was placed here in 1924, in recognition of Tim who was highly regarded and much loved for his involvement with the youth and sporting activities of the City as well as the Armoury. The marker was erected when the site was occupied by the Armoury and the Duke of Connaught High School, long before City Hall was built here.

25. “1952”
This number over the back entrance to City Hall marks the date of the building’s construction. The Hall opened officially in 1953. Also note the words “City Hall” in the building’s surface, high on the wall, above this same door, words that must have been a part of the original new city hall, but which are no longer easily visible due to building alterations.

26. Playing field
This area, now the City Hall parking lot, was once the playing field for Duke of Connaught High School. It is remembered as being very rough and on somewhat of a slope.

For more information, contact

The New Westminster Museum & Archives
302 Royal Avenue, New Westminster, BC V3L 1H7
(604) 527-4640


The New Westminster Public Library
716 Sixth Avenue, New Westminster, BC V3M 2B3
(604) 527-4660


Copyright © Corporation of the City of New Westminster, 2000

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