Then & Now: (Re)Discovering the Original Downtown

Friday, February 22, 2019

Here in Downtown New West, we’re called the “Original Downtown” for a reason: we constantly redefine what it means to be a Canadian city. However, that innovation wouldn’t happen without acknowledging the deep roots set by those that came before us.

This city has history, and it’s important to look back a bit and see just how far we’ve come!

The 1980s – Dashwood-Jones Store

Then & Now - 01a - W.A. Dashwood-Jones Store (Columbia at Begbie-Ewan)

The space that Anvil Centre would eventually occupy had humble beginnings: prior to New West’s Great Fire of 1898, Mr. & Mrs. William Dashwood-Jones ran a humble fruit & produce store between Begbie and now-defunct Ewan Street. Now, Anvil Centre serves as museum, archives, and a host of other services for the city at large.

Then & Now - 01b - Anvil Centre

In 1913 – New Westminster City Market

Then & Now - 02a - City Market (502 Columbia)

Historical records mark this version of the New Westminster City Market as temporarily replacing the original lost to the 1898 Great Fire. While it may be a far cry from auctioning off horses, the location now houses Army & Navy’s Department Store, keeping the locale’s sales tradition alive and well.

Then & Now - 02b - Army & Navy Department Store

In 1935 – Columbia @ McNally Street

Then & Now - 03a - Columbia at McNally Street

Originally an intersection in downtown’s west side, the corner of Columbia and McNally Streets held stores such as Fujiwara Dry Goods and Westminster Welding. Today, McNally Street may be gone, but Shops at New West has far outgrown those few stores into a major commercial hub in its own right!

Then & Now - 03b - Shops at New West

By 1940 - Columbia Street (Waves Coffee & Polo Health)

Then & Now - 04a - Columbia at Begbie Street

Columbia Street has been the place for businesses throughout the years: Westminster Trust and Fraser Café has gradually given way to stores like Waves Coffee or services such as Polo Health + Longevity Centre, and if recent years have proven anything, the block has plenty of vitality to it even to this day.

Then & Now - 04b - Columbia Street at Begbie

This is just a small glimpse of how downtown has evolved throughout the years: what historical landmarks can you point out? Let us know on social media using the hashtag #downtownnewwest!

*Credit to New Westminster Archives.

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