LOCAL HISTORY

Established in 1865, the New Westminster Public Library is B.C.’s oldest library. NWPL is home to an impressive collection of genealogical and local history resources. The main strength of this collection is British Columbian in content with emphasis on the history of New Westminster and the surrounding area.

Genealogical resources in Reference and Special Collections do not circulate and are for in-library use only. Identification, such as a library card or driver’s license, may be required to use certain items. Librarians are available to assist researchers using the collection.

Reference services are available in person, by telephone or via e-mail.

Phone: (604) 527-4665
Email: AskUs@nwpl.ca

JUMP TO A SECTION

NEW WESTMINSTER PUBLIC LIBRARY HISTORY

RESEARCH GUIDE: HISTORICAL PEOPLE

The Library has an abundance of resources to help you find information on historical figures and residents of New Westminster. The tips below are good starting points for researching the people of New Westminster. Library staff are always on hand to help you access any of our services.

The Bowell & Sons Records can be searched online using the NWMA online archives. Tip: use NWPL heritage collection – Bowell Funeral Home in the Fonds / Collection Name field to retrieve all the records available. See our guide on searching the entire database for discovering even more historical content!

The Library keeps copies of the New Westminster City Directories dating back to 1860. These directories list New Westminster resident’s names and sometimes addresses and occupations. The City Directories are a great resource to track the movement of people around the city. Listings will often include names or initials of all members of a household.

The Library also carries telephone directories for New Westminster (some of which include the most of Metro Vancouver) from 1952 to the present.

The Library subscribes to the Ancestry.com online genealogical service. Ancestry contains over 4 billion names in various historical records from around the world. This service is free of charge with a valid library card, but can only be accessed from within the Library.

In addition to the local resources available at the New Westminster Public Library, there’s more local content to be discovered from other institutions: New Westminster Museum and ArchivesBC Archives and Library and Archives Canada are all useful tools for exploring historical figures both locally, provincially, and country-wide.

RESEARCH GUIDE: HISTORICAL PHOTOGRAPHS

The historical photograph collection is a dynamic resource of black and white photographs. Aspects of life in the Royal City are chronicled back to 1858 under a wide variety of topics including: buildings, houses, streets, portraits, social life and customs, views from the Fraser River, and the waterfront.

The NWPL collection of historical photographs can be searched online using the NWMA online archives. Tip: use NWPL heritage collection – Photos in the Fonds / Collection Name field to retrieve all the records available. See our guide on searching the entire database for discovering even more historical content!

Photo reproductions can be requested here.

RESEARCH GUIDE: HERITAGE BUILDINGS

Illustrations and descriptions of homes featured annually in the local homes tours from 1980 to the present can be searched online using the NWMA online archives. Tip: use NWPL heritage collection – Heritage Home Tours in the Fonds / Collection Name field to retrieve all the records available. See our guide on searching the entire database for discovering even more historical content!

NEW WESTMINSTER MUSEUM & ARCHIVES: ONLINE ARCHIVES

The following, and even more historical resources, can be accessed online via the NWMA online archives:

  • NWPL heritage collection – Bowell Funeral Home
  • NWPL heritage collection – Heritage Home Tours
  • NWPL  heritage collection – Photos

See our guide for searching these collections.