Re-enacting the past in New Westminster

They say that those who don't remember the past are doomed to repeat it. But for some folks, the past isn't just for remembering. It's for re-enacting. It's well-known that New Westminster has a deep love for the historical. As one of the oldest settlements in B.C., we are reminded of times past in the brick storefronts on Columbia St., the names of our boulevards and avenues, and even in the surprise discoveries of forgotten cemeteries.

Paul McCann, Patron Master of the newly opened Blood & Iron school of Western Martial Arts in New Westminster (photo: Bloodandiron.ca)
Paul McCann, Patron Master of the newly opened Blood & Iron school of Western Martial Arts in New Westminster (photo: Bloodandiron.ca)

They say that those who don’t remember the past are doomed to repeat it. But for some folks, the past isn’t just for remembering. It’s for re-enacting.

It’s well-known that New Westminster has a deep love for the historical. As one of the oldest settlements in B.C., we are reminded of times past in the brick storefronts on Columbia St., the names of our boulevards and avenues, and even in the surprise discoveries of forgotten cemeteries. And there are a number of organizations who go beyond talking about history, and actually live it.

New Westminster is regularly visited by James Douglas and other key historical figures courtesy of the Royal Engineers re-enactors. Our mayor has even taken Douglas to task over giving away our status as B.C.’s capital to Victoria.

There’s also a local chapter for the Society of Creative Anachronism, which will be hosting an event for newbies in New Westminster on March 20 at the Masonic Hall at 508 Agnes St., where the historically-minded can learn medieval skills like armor-smithing, rapier technicque, Italian dancing, and the Bardic Arts.

And for those of a warlike persuasion, you can learn both archery and swordplay right here in New West. On East Columbia St. in Sapperton, Boorman Archery can outfit you with bow and quiver and direct you to local contests of skill (though you may first want to practice a bit in their archery range or sign up for their archery lessons). Meanwhile, over on Front St., Blood and Iron, an ‘Academy of Western Martial Arts,’ has just opened, where you can learn the art of swordsmanship.

Whether or not you’re the type to dress up in old-tyme gear or pick up bow and spear, you can surely enjoy the spectacle. It’s great to see groups like these breathing life into our history and reminding us of the good (and bad) of the ways of the past.

Briana Tomkinson

Briana Tomkinson is a Montreal-based writer and original founder of Tenth to the Fraser. She really likes to write letters by hand.

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2 comments

  1. My oldest son was able to interact with a group called Acadamie Duello, from downtown Van. This is another great asset for the people of new west. Love to get some of he regiment gang down there!

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