On This Day In New West History

On February 6, 1929, Richard McBride School burned to the ground.

Current day photo courtesy of Mario Bartel.

Archival photo from the New Westminster Public Library’s collection. It is dated July 23, 1926 and depicts the original Richard McBride School before it burned to the ground. Accession # 144.

Many thanks to Dale Miller of A Sense of History Research Services for the text that follows. 

Richard McBride School was the third public school in the Sapperton area of New Westminster. The previous ones were located on Hospital Street near E. Columbia, and on Major Street near Fader.

Throughout the early 1900s, there were discussions about the need for a new, larger school in Sapperton, and in 1911, the contract was awarded to Gardiner and Mercer for a new “thoroughly modern” and “up to date” school. Sitting on 4.6 acres, it opened in the fall of 1912, and was initially referred to as the “Sapperton School”, but renamed for its opening as “Sir Richard McBride School”.

However, soon after the school’s opening, Sir Richard McBride wrote to the School Board asking that the “Sir” be removed from the school name, as he felt that the citizens of New Westminster knew him best as simply “Richard McBride”, without his knighthood title. The school board agreed to the request but apparently failed to notify the provincial authorities and so the “Sir” technically remained on the school for a number of years.

In 1925, a foundation and a new wing were added to address overcrowding, and in 1928, an assembly hall was added. On February 6, 1929 the entire school, except for the gymnasium, burned to the ground.

Richard McBride School Burning 6 February, 1929 NWPL 145
Richard McBride School Burning 6 February, 1929
NWPL 145

Emergency tents were used as a temporary school for the students until the new school was ready.

Emergency tents used after the McBride School fire in 1929 NWPL 1795
Emergency tents used after the McBride School fire in 1929
NWPL 1795








A new Richard McBride School was opened in 1930 and it is this school, with a number of alterations and additions, which is in use today.

Richard McBride School circa 1940 NWPL 2346
Richard McBride School circa 1940
NWPL 2346


Jen introduces this month’s theme.

When I first moved from Vancouver Island to New Westminster in 1995 in my early 20s, I chose it for three reasons, and three reasons only: it was the last city before a bridge, it was on the Skytrain, and it had cheap rent.

I’m not alone. When I talk to people who moved to New West at roughly the same age as I was, they often say the same things are what drew them here.

However, now when people ask me why I stay in this city I cite totally different reasons. It feels like a community, and not just a city. I love the city’s diversity and yet it still manages to feel like a small town. For the most part, the people here are friendly and giving. In a word, connectedness keeps me here.

At some point, I became connected to the community in a way I never anticipated when I signed that rental agreement on a beige apartment on Agnes.

Much of that feeling of connectedness was as a result of the work I did with the Royal City Farmers Market from 2009-2012 and the volunteering I do now for various groups. Through the course of these positions, I have interacted with and gotten to know many of the groups that contribute to this community, often thanklessly and mostly unseen.

The connections I now feel to this city produce interesting results in how I feel toward others. For example, I feel a shared sense of happiness and celebration when people I am connected to in the city – no matter how tenuously – have good things happen to them.

So this month on Tenth, we’re exploring themes of connectedness as they pertain to the city we call home – getting connected, staying connected, being and wanting to be disconnected, and exploring what services, supports, and activities are available to help us connect or disconnect as we choose.

We’re all just people in this place together, right?

A few resources / food for thought:

  • Not to get all woo-woo here, but connectedness can go a long way to help people feel empathy. Check out this three minute long animated short featuring Brené Brown for a look at the difference between empathy and sympathy.
  • City planners know that social connectedness is an essential human need. For a bit of a longer read, check out this article on social connectedness on Plan H, a multi-agency program implemented by the BC Healthy Communities Society to support local government to create healthier communities.

If you’ve got something you want to contribute to this month’s theme, please don’t hesitate to get in touch – I prefer to have your voices here, not mine. And feel free to submit your community event to our calendar.

Saving Money Simply

When I was about 15 my dad tried to force me into reading The Wealthy Barber in the hopes I’d glean some skills about how to manage my meagre babysitting money and earnings from my part time job at the video store. “Ugh,” said teenaged me. “Stop telling me what to do.”

Sigh. I wish I had listened a bit more closely to either one them and their advice, because I spent most of my 20s in a constant state of awful consumer and student loan debt. By my 30s I knew something had to change and I pulled up my socks and got on track. Today I would call myself an excellent budgeter and moderate saver – not too frugal but not too spendy – and one of my biggest goals is to instill financial literacy in my son.

I asked Gurpal Siekham, the branch manager from Westminster Savings, for some simple advice about getting on track with a savings plan. “It is never too late to start saving money or to become good at saving money,’ said Gurpal.

“I like to tell clients to keep it simple.”  Continue reading “Saving Money Simply”

Get ‘Er Done, New West

Estate planning: it may be scary, but it is very necessary.

Boring Adult Stuff like Powers of Attorney, Wills, and appointing a guardian for my child were on my to-do list for an embarrassingly high number of years. For years I (wrongly) believed that because I had no assets aside from a giant pile of student loans I didn’t need any planning documents.

Eighteen months ago I finally got my act together. On the pain in the butt scale, I’d rate it a 6.5 for having to find the time to make an appointment, arrange all the paperwork, seek and ask a guardian, and have a really important conversation with myself and my spouse about medical interventions. And it honestly wasn’t that cheap, either. But the truth is that it was a small amount of hassle for a whole bunch of peace of mind and I felt actual relief when it was done. And now I can forget all about it unless my circumstances change.

If you don’t yet have your act together here is an overview of what documents you might need and who can help. It probably goes without saying, but this post isn’t legal advice at all, and you should definitely seek the advice of a professional for your own personal situation. There are low or no cost services out there too, so don’t let cost be the reason you don’t get your act together.
Continue reading “Get ‘Er Done, New West”

Sourcing Ingredients in New West

Locals recommend where to get what you need.

Have you ever read Make the Bread, Buy the Butter? In it, author Jennifer Reese explored what foods a person should make themselves and what they should just buy. It’s an informative book, and her discussions for and against making things are quite funny at times. When I wrote the post about keeping goats in New West, I had some of her narrative in mind.

Chow mein is a dish like that for me. While it doesn’t have a terribly long specialized list of ingredients, it does have some specific ones, and factors like what brand of noodles, spices, oils and sauces you use can make a big difference with homemade versus restaurant chow mein. One of my food goals this year (what, don’t you make food goals?) is to learn how to make great chow mein at home.

I asked on Twitter this month where people go to buy specialized ingredients for their recipes and I’m sharing the responses here in case you’ve got a food goal of your own. Continue reading “Sourcing Ingredients in New West”