I have been looking forward to tonight’s meeting of the New Westminster Historical Society. It is not so much that former New Westminster curator Archie Miller and the historical society’s organizer would be presenting commentary and images on the Hollywood Sanitarium and the New Westminster Mall (the mall replaced the hospital that was between 5th and 6th streets, uptown New West) and his usual photo groups of places and people throughout this cities 150 year history. I just missed being there.
I became a member of the group a little over a year ago but I have not attended any of the presentations for a few months. The group meets on the third Wednesday of each month and each evening, in the bottom floor auditorium of the New Westminster Pubic Library, is a real community gathering of people who are interested in and love this city.
Sure, I am always the youngest in the room (at 31), but tonight, the first meeting of 2009, the room was packed (55 people) and everyone was treated to Archie’s easy expertise with each building or family history as we went through the slides. One of the members offered the story of when Errol Flynn came to New Westminster for some relaxation therapy (ahem, rehab, ahem) at the old Hollywood Sanitarium. The evening ended with a suite of Pattullo Bridge photos, to remind us of our current predicament.
For anyone who is interested in the rich history of this town, I encourage you to get involved with the Historical Society, its meetings or perhaps with the current city archivist and the city museum.
P.S. The photo of our hobbled bridge at the top of this post was taken by my grandfather, Bill Tomkinson.
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: