Local History

The History of Queens Park in New Westminster

Hi, I’m Daman Beatty from local Surrey blog Surrey604. I’m also part of a group of ambassadors supporting one of the coolest events this city has ever held: The Surrey International World Music Marathon. It’s not just a marathon it’s a huge party, and trust me Surrey knows how to party! It runs September 28-30 and we’ll have “cultural music miles” along the route featuring music stations of performers representing various cultures.

The Surrey International World Music Marathon

The Surrey International World Music Marathon will celebrate the multiculturalism of Surrey with a festival of art, music and food. It is already a Boston qualifier just in its inaugural year. You don’t have to do a marathon, you can join Mayor Watts for a short 5K Concert Run/Walk, or bring your family for the Kid’s Fun Run and weekend expo hosted at Central City featuring healthy-living products and services.

Registration is now open for participants. Come and join us. There’s something for everybody!

I’ve been blogging about training for my first full marathon. My favourite training route starts from Surrey City Centre across the Pattullo Bridge and back.

Training for a 42 km race requires running further over time so I have chosen two different routes to take after crossing the bridge into New Westminster. I have ventured East to Sapperton and also West down Columbia Street (both great routes) but I knew there was a “Queen’s Park” nearby and decided to go there.

Google said I’d find it by heading straight after crossing Pattullo but you have some twists and turns (see map below) before you get there. I was completely surprised by the vastness and beauty of this great park: 75 acres and it houses Queen’s Park Arena, a stadium and even a petting zoo and spray water park for kids. You’ll also find a rose garden, tennis courts, sports fields and band shell. There are several playgrounds to enjoy, quality gymnastics and trampoline programs, amenities with a concession, picnic tables and washrooms combined for a great family fun destination. What a discovery so close to home, with a rich history and bright future!

This first public park in the Colony of British Columbia was located in the capitol city of Queenborough, later rechristened as “New Westminster” by Queen Victoria in 1859.

The Colony’s first Lieutenant-Governor, Richard Moody wrote in a letter to B.C. Governor James Douglas: “The woods are magnificent, superb beyond description but most vexatious to a surveyor and the first dwellers in a town. I declare without the least sentimentality, I grieve and mourn the ruthless destruction of these most glorious trees. What a grand old Park this whole hill would make! I am reserving a very beautiful glen and adjoining ravine for the People and Park. I have already named it ‘Queen’s Ravine’ and trust you will approve…”

Well Mr. Moody, I felt the same as I stumbled onto this place 153 years later and I’m so very glad your colleague James approved!

Moody also depicted this area between Surrey and New West: “The entrance to the Fraser is very striking – extending miles to the right and left are low marsh lands and yet from the background of superb mountains – Swiss in outline, dark in woods, grandly towering into the clouds there is a sublimity that deeply impresses you. Everything is large and magnificent.” So true still today.

During the Jubilee Year of Queen Victoria’s reign in 1887 City Council took possession of the park, dedicating it to her as “Queen’s Park.” In 1889 New West received funding to improve it. They invited Canada’s Governor General Lord Stanley to drop by and plant the first shade tree. The same gentleman later gave his name to a similar park in Vancouver, and a shiny silver punch bowl he bought for 50 bucks.

In 1890, Queen’s Park landscaper Peter Latham ordered trees and shrubs from France for planting. He described: “two varieties of purple beeches, several varieties of horse chestnuts, some of the famous French dentzia gracilis, English and variegated holly, English and Irish yew, pampas grasses, purple maples, silver maples, silver birch, purple birch, Austrian arancarias, rhododendrens, entapias, and a score of other foreigners, all of which are in fresh condition aver their four weeks and sea voyage.” I’ve no idea what half that stuff is, but I’m told they can still be seen in the park today!

You can see my run here tracked with a great little iPhone app called Motion-X. Once in the park, you can pick up the Millennium Trail which loops all the way around.

View Larger Map

Do you know some great places to run or walk in or around Surrey? Let us know in the comments below.

[awesome-gallery id=13465]
Daman Beatty
The creator of Surrey604.com, Daman Beatty (AKA 'Beatler') is originally from Sackville, New Brunswick. A longtime media producer, visual designer, marketing and communications specialist, Daman loves travel, technology and being a Daddy.