“New West,” as it’s best known, is a densely populated residential area 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) southeast of downtown. Its strategic location, where the Fraser River divides, caused it to become a hub of river transportation and a thriving economic center. It was declared the capital of the mainland colony in 1859, then the provincial capital in the years 1866–1868.
Only a few historic buildings remain, and the old port area has been totally overtaken by modern developments. The center of the action is Westminster Quay Market (810 Quayside Dr., 604/520-3881), along the riverfront and below the old Main Street. Although its hours are very un-market-like (it doesn’t open until 9:30 a.m. each day), it holds an interesting selection of fresh produce, take-out food stalls, and specialty shops.
Out front is the Samson V, built in 1937 and the last remaining paddle wheeler left on the river when it was retired in 1980. It’s now open for public inspection (daily noon–5 p.m. June–Aug.); call the local museum at 604/527-4640 for details.
Beside the market is the Fraser River Discovery Centre (788 Quayside Dr., 604/521-8401, daily 10 a.m.–4 p.m. June–Aug., Wed.–Sat. 10 a.m.–4 p.m. the rest of the year, adult $6, senior and child $5) that describes the river and its importance to the development of New Westminster. Other interpretive boards are spread along the boardwalk in front of the market, as is the unlikely combination of a floating casino, a tugboat-themed playground, and the world’s largest tin soldier.