Fascination with the Fraser

Jennifer Hewitt of video and editing business Clipsake has contributed this article. You can find the first article here.

As a new wife and soon to be Mom, I’ve spent the last year getting reaquainted with the Royal City which I previously called home in the early 2000s while attending Douglas College. Myself and my husband Simon relocated from Vancouver’s Mt. Pleasant neighbourhood in January 2016 and we’ve spent our time finding our new favourite places that have made New Westminster feel like home.

It can be difficult moving to a new community. The butcher, the baker, the sweet espresso maker you’ve come to know and love are all miles away. Your daily commute and your neighbours change all in one fell swoop. The way to thrive? Wander, explore and stay curious!

As the proper nerds that my husband and I are, we got to peering through our new city’s website and looking at plans past, present and future. We were most intrigued by the plans to continue the connections of the different communities along the waterfront. Those proposed connections included the proposed Q2Q bridge and the Waterfront Greenway connection which would effectively link Queensborough, the Quayside/Downtown and Sapperton. So here are some of my favourite places in these ‘hoods.


Favourite memory this year? Seeing the shocked look on a group of shoppers faces as they returned to their cars at Queensborough Landing to find a heavily pregnant woman being photographed while dancing, sans music, by the riverside.  

Viewing a space, a place, a community from different angles is one way to fall in love with a city. Since moving into the Brow of the Hill neighborhood, one of the first places Simon and I started exploring was across the river in Queensborough.

Walking the flat, meandering paths along the Fraser river, past lovely houses, big skies and light industrial lots provided a great backdrop for conversation (no huffing and puffing up hills). We also found looking across the Fraser at the Quay and our own neighborhood framed by mountains, bridges and sky a refreshing take on BC’s oldest city.

Rather than one continuous trail in Queensborough, you will find a series of pathways which encourage you to make make your own way through neighborhoods, railway tracks and roads…but that adds to the fun. Failing to find a detailed walking map of these pathways, I used this map from Let’s Go Biking for my first couple of explorations.

Also in this neighborhood, the popular Queensborough Landing shopping centre backs along a section of the Fraser River that houses log booms, river birds and great views of the Queensborough bridge, though I haven’t yet shopped here…. Instead it served as the spot where we took our maternity photographs, cementing it as a special place for us for years to come.

The River Market  / Westminster Pier Park

Favourite memory this year? Watching the Filipino senior dancers perform traditional dances before breaking into a modern dance set to Lady Gaga’s, ‘Poker Face’ during the Canada Day 2016 Multicultural Festival.

This area has changed dramatically in the 15 years since I last lived in New Westminster. The river that used to be a place to admire from up the hill is now a place filled with public art, spaces to gather and lots of quality places to eat, drink and be merry!

In fact, whether travelling abroad or in her own city, one of my favourite ways to explore is a bit Pac-Manesque…. nom nom nom. An ideal way to explore the Quay is starting at the west side of the Quay, stop in to meet the local brewmasters at Steel and Oak.

Get some exercise before calling into the River Market. If you are like me and are heavily pregnant, you might grab some of the amazing fried chicken from Re-up and sit comfortably while watching people bend and contort in amazing ways at the circus school.

Maybe finish with a gelato from Tre Galli Gelato Caffe (their pizza is also AMAZING) and get back outside where you could find people jogging, doing yoga and even playing volleyball while watching the tugs go by. Even if you aren’t into yoga, the sight of a crowd of people in bright tights bending and moving in the sunshine is a far cry from the abandoned feeling this place used to have not so long ago.

The vibrant River Market now gives people a reason to come down the hill (despite the inevitable uphill return 😉 thanks to the variety of shops and events that take place there. The recent Feast on the Fraser gave people the chance to get to know local chefs at Wild Rice Bistro. This was an event that turned strangers into life long accomplices in the destruction of  innocent carrots and tomatoes as the group attempted garnishes and learned to fillet a salmon.

Heading down to the hammocks and the reclining bench seats are perfect places to relax with a treat and a book. Finishing off your walk, don’t you dare fight the urge to take a photo with the largest public art installation from the 2014-2016 Vancouver Biennale 2014-2016. Tag your photos #wowwestminster to get in on the online record, or save these photos for years to come to show your nearest and dearest how dramatically different the waterfront looks once again.

Finally, cross to the wrong side of the tracks and go visit local bean buster, Old Crow Coffee to fortify you for the walk home!


Favourite memory this year? The popping of a dozen corks (sparkling juice of course 😉 at the launch of the Clipsake website in Glenbrook Ravine park under a perfectly sunny sky.

Checking out the other proposed connection to the trail along the Fraser (Sapperton Landing to Westminster Pier Park), the 1km stretch of Sapperton landing trail is a great place to head after taking in the view from up the hill in Glenbrook at The Castle Neighborhood Grill .

You get bonus points if you manage to completely perplex your English relatives as I’m wont to do by introducing them to the Castle breakfast yorkies. Nothing like the original yorkshire pudding, but so, so good.

At the Annual Sapperton Day Street Festival this year, I saw a performance by the Royal City Swing Dancers and I was hooked. These guys and gals will give you some comedy, music and yes, dancing on a Friday night in Sapperton if you’re up for it!

A trip to downton Sapperton is like a treat to yourself or to your nearest and dearest if you are in a generous mood. I recommend beginning your little stop with rich, dark Italian coffee and sweet treat from Fratellis. Then you will find it easy to hit up the trifecta of local love by visiting 3 boutiques all on one block that sell Canadian and local gifts, blooms and treats. In fact, it is almost dare worthy to say that I bet you can’t walk into  Bloom Bloom Room, Cadeaux and Banana Lab and leave without a smile and a treat.

The New Westminster Culture Crawl this year saw artists opening up the doors to their workshop and welcoming everyone to see the variety of art. Everything from quilting to metal works, photography to mixed media. 100 Braid Street Studios in Sapperton is one beautiful space for artists and events. Not to mention it is the last historical industrial buildings still in tact in New Westminster, though its future is in question.

Wandering down the busy Columbia street past Hume Park, you will find a stretch of The Central Valley Greenway that follows the Brunette River. This year, the river was thick with spawning salmon being watched by curious photographers, herons perched in trees and the occasional bear. Driving on this busy stretch of road between Lougheed and New Westminster, you would never guess that this natural wonder was taking place just behind the trees. For that reason, I encourages you to meander, wander and explore New Westminster to make it feel like home.


Three Ways Anyone Can Preserve Their Cherished Memories Forever

We are the product of our experiences. Those we have shared with family, teachers, friends, colleagues & perfect strangers. The good, the bad and the ugly all rolled into one lifetime; all we’ve done and learned along the way. Our memories are so precious for that reason. What follows are our top suggestions to keep those memories alive so you can relive and enjoy them.

Get creative!

We love creating with our hands. Generally, these creations have a high failure rate, but that is part of the fun, right? In fact, if you want to laugh along with other crafters, check out this site. Well if getting creative and and little sticky is up your alley, we have a few projects to keep your memories alive.

preservememories-madewithalaserMaking a mini (read – adorable) matchstick album for special days, get togethers or holidays.  If you have an Instax or other instant camera, you are all set. If not, a simple extra step of ordering prints from your favourite print shop. Some glue, a marker and some simple craft paper mini albums and you will have shoe boxes full of short, visual, tactile memories to bring out from under the bed on a rainy day.

Get your hands on a laser! Yup. A laser. Maker Labs have courses to teach you to use their laser cutter. Using vector designs (they have classes for that too), you can etch or cut your design out of leather, wood or metal. Do this with your wedding logo, a special photo, or a family motto. Did we mention that you get to operate a laser?!

If getting your hands dirty isn’t for you, why not work with a local artist and have them sketch, paint or ink a place of significance for you? We spotted local artist @ManonGarritsen sketches of buildings on Twitter and loved this idea as an anniversary gift. Hang it on your wall or print it on a pillow.

Of course, there are hundreds of ways to preserve memories with craft. We’ve shared these ones as we love lasers, pillow fights and treasures tucked under the bed. We’d love to hear your favourites.

Create your own website to hold your memories for you

If you are even a little tech savvy, the ultimate way to keep your memories alive is to create a website dedicated to them. You can create the website, write your own stories, upload your photos and videos plus you can share easily with whomever you wish.

preservememories-weddingwebsiteOur co-founder Jen and her husband Simon did this for their wedding and used it to tell the story of their ten years together.  They shared travel information, fun photos and even had a page that was dedicated to photos uploaded to social media by their friends who used their wedding hashtag.

With all sorts of website building sites out there, you don’t need to have special training to be good at this! There are many free and pay website builders out there; Wix, Strikingly and Squarespace to name a few.

Having your own website allows you not only to immortalize your important, goofy, fun memories, but also to share them easily with family & friends.

Get your digital files organized!

Yeah, we know, this is probably sounds less fun than a trip to the dentist (sorry to all the amazing dentists out there ;). But organization is the key to enjoyment of your hundreds (and thousands?) of photo and video files.

Remember when you would have to be choosy about the photos and video you took because you were using film? The benefit of photography now is that you can shoot, re-shoot and shoot again until you get that perfect shot. The downside is that you have thousands of photos of the same thing from slightly different angles, lighting and quality stored on an SD card, your phone or your computer. With a bit of organization,  that number could easily be cut in half freeing up space and maximizing enjoyment.

You have a couple of options when it comes to consolidating and storing your digital memories. To keep things clear, let’s assume that you have average storage needs of  somewhere between 100 to 500GB of storage space.

Psst. If you have some old VHS tapes sitting around, we’ve got you! Check out our blog for 2 ways to convert your VHS tapes into current, useable digital files.

Hard Drive

A hard drive is an option to backup your photos if you will be disciplined enough to budget for a replacement between its third and fourth year. Studies show that besides random ‘lemon’ and ‘factory defect’ failures, the failure rate of hard drives is minimal in the first 35 months, but skyrockets after 36 months.

The great thing about external hard drive storage is that they are simple, you incur one cost per three years and you have lots of choices. Don’t get bogged down in the details however. Just make sure that is compatible with your computer and has enough storage for your media.  

Cloud storage

We love the cloud option mainly because we can access our media files on the go and cloud systems allow beautiful viewing options for your photos. Services like Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, and more exist for the express purpose of storing your stuff. All services give you at least a little free storage to play around with to see if you like it. You can find a great comparison of cloud storage systems here.

Essentially, many options exist for both free and pay services. How much you pay is dependant mostly on your total size of files. If you are anything like us, you will pay more to start, but after you start going through your photos and videos, you will pair down and need smaller storage size.

preservememories-googlephotossearchfeatureHere at Clipsake, we use both Dropbox and Google drive for our various business documents. For us, Google drive is the hands down winner as our photo cloud storage because of its useful search function and beautiful way it displays our photos.

So say you want to find that picture of you and your best friend that time you went surfing in Australia. Just type the word ‘beach’ or Cottesloe’ into the search bar. Yeah, it is that easy.

Or maybe you are creating a family photo album and want to see all of your photos of Aunt Mildred. Simple, search the ‘people’ function, assign a name to the face of Aunt Mildred (all listed as icons) and Google Photos will find all photos of Aunt Mildred. In this way, accessing your memories is a breeze. You can upload photos and videos into folders and rename them to make them photo albums. That way they’re safely stored in the cloud and they’re organized!

So there you have it. 3 ways you can take what were once a big pile of random digital files and transform them into evenings of enjoyment, gifts for family, beautiful decor and video keepsakes. Here’s hoping we’ve made organizing and editing sexy enough that you grab your computer and get started! Whether you make a family photo wall, create albums for your family, or get in touch with us to make your random video clips into shareable video keepsakes we hope you have an awesome Autumn (and blow up at least one awkward photo of a sibling to stuff in their stocking this Christmas!)


Editor’s Note: This post by our friends at Clipsake, a local business doing some cool stuff helping you save memories and DIY video. This is not a paid placement:  they’re just cool people I asked to write about memory preserving.