Without exploring New Westminster's rich past, it's impossible to understand the culture and history of the province of British Columbia.
The Fraser River Gold Rush kicked off in 1858, and New Westminster, located at the mouth of the river, was built in 1859 on the site of a Kwantlen native people's village called Skaiametl. Construction was handled by the Royal Engineers of the Columbia Detachment of the British Army.
Under the British colonial governor, Sir James Douglas, New Westminster became Western Canada's oldest incorporated city in 1860. The new capital of British Columbia got its name from Queen Victoria, who chose to honour her favourite district in London. Thus, it's still known as the "Royal City" today.
New Westminster's Economy Grows
Gold Rush fever was short-lived, and after Britain united the previously separate colony of Vancouver Island with British Columbia in 1866, New Westminster lost its status as the provincial capital to Victoria in 1868. However, the city continued to grow, developing an economy based on core BC industries like sawmilling, salmon canning and agriculture.