Irving House’s twist on Christmas tradition: apple garlands

Those seeking ideas for sustainable decorations this Christmas, should cast their eye to the keepers of the past. New Westminster’s Irving House museum is profiled on Gardenwise for their unusual twist on a traditional garland that uses real apples for a beautiful and memorable look.

At Irving House in New Westminster the halls really are decked with boughs of holly — and lots of other traditional accents that transform the home into a celebration of a Victorian Christmas.

There are probably not many better places to evoke the spirit of the season than at this heritage home, where visitors are transported back to the 1860s and the ambiance of Victorian times.

Full instructions (and more illustrations of these lovely and eco-friendly decorations) are on Gardenwise .

New West’s Brad Ross stirs the pot

The Surrey Leader reports that New Westminster’s Brad Ross has provoked a testy bit of back-and-forth between provincial transportation minister Kevin Falcon and Delta city council. Ross commutes to Delta, facing a regular bottleneck at Highway 91 and 72 Ave.

New Westminster resident Brad Ross, who makes regular trips across the [Alex Fraser] bridge, wrote Falcon to ask if there were plans to build an overpass.

According to the minister’s written reply, the traffic lights are still there because Delta “strongly favoured an alternate and more costly configuration, and we were unable to reach agreement.”

Ross forwarded the response to Delta council last week.

There was supposed to be money for improvements to the intersection in 2003, courtesy of a federal-provincial Border Infrastructure Program.

The Falcon letter also said a full intersection was “not viable as part of the project, due to the close proximity of Burns Bog.”

Coun. Scott Hamilton scoffed at the comment.

“The minister is talking through his hat,” Hamilton said, noting the land is privately owned and not part of the bog conservancy.

“They (the program) just ran out of money.”

So there you go, if you too share Ross’ commute and wondered what the issue was at Hwy 91 and 72nd … it appears to be a political bottleneck as well as a daily traffic headache.

The pinnacle of guest room perfection – in New West!

In a recent Globe & Mail column, Vancouver-based HGTV designer Kelly Deck draws on the example of a New Westminster friend’s home to illustrate dos and don’ts of guest room decor :

For seven years, Gillian has been ceaselessly redecorating the interior of her New Westminster home. Last Sunday, we ascended a narrow fir staircase to a room where Gillian has created a warm and romantic retreat for the guests she and Michael are expecting this holiday season. As is her habit, the room is a clever blend of old and new, with a general air of welcome.

As I drove home that afternoon, I thought about why Gillian’s guest room felt right and well thought out, while those in many other homes (ones by designers included) often feel wrong. I think she’s got a few easy do’s and don’ts for us.

Sounds very Queen’s Park to me! Seriously though, I do think that many homes here in New West aspire to that “clever blend of old and new, with a general air of welcome.” Deck never says that her friend Gillian owns a heritage home, but the “narrow fir staircase” and the aim to blend old with new hints at it.

For those who are wondering, the tips in the article include:

  • Give guests room to store their junk
  • Don’t be too feminine
  • Buy good sheets
  • Smash that cheap ceiling light
  • Don’t skip the window finishes
  • Resist putting family photos on the wall
  • Remember the thoughtful touches

From the photo with the article, this is indeed a stellar example of a guest room. Gillian from New West has even framed a collection of cheeky poems as the wall art! Kudos to Gillian. Wonder what other gems local decorating divas have concocted …

Famous New West war photo highlighted in Sun’s coverage of B.C.’s 150th birthday

B.C. celebrates its 150th birthday this year, and as part of the Vancouver Sun’s coverage , it put together a list of the top 10 photos in our province’s history.

Somewhat surprisingly to me, only one is taken in New Westminster (but I suppose they had to spread it around a bit). It is the iconic image of a little boy running after his father , who is marching off to war. The photo was taken on Columbia Street by photographer Claude Detloff for The Province newspaper, and the man in the photo is Pte. Jack Bernard, a member of the B.C. Regiment (Duke of Connaught’s Own Rifles).

From the newspaper’s description:

This photograph by Dettloff, who was honoured by his peers for this candid street portrait of a tender moment, was hung in every B.C. school and became one of the most widely recognized Canadian images from the Second World War. Whitey Barnard, who was enlisted to help sell war bonds with this photograph as a backdrop, later settled in Tofino.

I’ve always loved the photograph, and I’m glad it was included in the top 10 list. Given that next year is New Westminster’s 150th birthday, maybe our local historian Archie Miller and the New Westminster Historical Society will compile a similar list from the city’s archives. The city will be doling out grants for the coming year for projects celebrating our 150th, and I hope one of the winning ideas will show off our rich photographic archive.

Update: Amazingly, the Sun’s slideshow of Royal visits doesn’t appear to include any to The Royal City! And no mention is made of Royal visits to New Westminster (named after the Queen’s favourite part of England)! Here’s one from my husband’s family’s archives: