New West Wednesday: Tips for newcomers

New West is a tight-knit community, but the flip side of that is that it can seem a bit cliquey to newcomers. A lot of information is passed via word-of-mouth and it takes some time to learn about the best places to go and other insider tips. In this week’s New West Wednesday, let’s shareRead More

New West is a tight-knit community, but the flip side of that is that it can seem a bit cliquey to newcomers. A lot of information is passed via word-of-mouth and it takes some time to learn about the best places to go and other insider tips.

In this week’s New West Wednesday, let’s share a tidbit or two to help newcomers to the city get their bearings. What do you wish someone had told you when you were new to the city? What hidden gems would you recommend if someone asked you for ideas on places to go and things to do in the city?

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.

Briana Tomkinson is a really valued member of the Tenth to the Fraser community. Interested in joining our pool of writers? Please see these submission guidelines.

36 comments

  1. It might sound obvious, but the Quay is one of the nicest walks in the city. The city gardening staff do a great job maintaining the gardens, there is a dog park at one end, the Quay market at the other, and a playground (and public washrooms) in the middle. And all of it along the river.

    In fact, I would have a tough time finding a nicer walk with such diversity (residences with interesting architecture, gardens, a market, dog park, kids park, river) in an urban environment anywhere in Greater Vancouver.

    1. I once wrote a poem just listing the colours (of the residences) at the Quay!

  2. The Royal City Centre mall opens at NOON on Sundays. All winter, it is overheated. You won't need a jacket. There is nothing worth seeing upstairs, unless you have small children who like to ride escalators, or you need eyeglasses.

    Also, many local small businesses are closed on Mondays. Check the sign.

    If you are missing your old coffee shop in the West End of Vancouver, the Coming Home coffee shop at 6th st & 7 1/2th ave. has you covered.

    There are ducks in Tipperary Park!

    1. '7 1/2th Ave' – I love that! I live on 7 1/2th Ave! which takes you to the crosswalk to the tallest trees in Moody Park – our favourite place for playing bocce!

  3. Tipperary Park is the most awesome park ever. Best pulled pork is at Graze. There is a whole legion of people who like to write mean anonymous blog posts. The Twitter community here is awesome. Lots of filming happens here. I don't understand why the parkade is there, either. Angelina's over by the Quay has the best breakfasts.

    1. And don't forget to tell all the "newcomers" about the many blogs in New West they can post on anonymously…. Wait, somethings off… If your a "newcomer" how would you even know about the cliquey blogs ?

      I wonder which came first ? The blog or the blogger ?

        1. Sorry, your a newcomer and not part of the clique yet.

          I would love to direct you to the many blogs in the Royal City to which you can make anonymous blog postings, but unfortunately it's not in my job description to help newcomers.

        2. What I was referring to was primarily the blogs of the local reporters for the Royal City Record. Theresa McManus (http://communities.canada.com/vannet/blogs/onlynewwest/default.aspx) and Nikki Hope's (http://communities.canada.com/vannet/blogs/timeoutcorner/default.aspx) (currently being written by Alfie Lau while she is on maternity) seem to attract the most anonymous commenters who have nasty things to say, likely because they tend to get the issues assigned to them that are the most hot-button. We here at Tenth also gets quite a few anonymous folks, and to a degree, I have gotten a bit of spillover on my personal blog but I don't really allow anything nasty on my blog because, well, it's my blog and I make the rules. 🙂

  4. Don't forget that Queensborough is part of your new city too! 😉 And we have AWESOME stuff over here, including the only hardware store in ALL of New Westminster! 😉 Actually, soon to be two hardware stores – you should check out the first one (Griff) first, before heading to the big box one (Lowes).

    If you want to see wildlife in an urban setting, QB is where it's at! We have ducks, geese, herons, owls, bats, raccoons, skunks, coyotes, beavers – the list is endless! There is a beautiful river walk all around the Port Royal development at the east end of QB that is stunning and rivals the mainland Quay boardwalk. We even have a dock here, which we hope (one day!) will have a little ferry to shuttle us over to the Quay. 🙂

    We have a great pub (Frankie G's) and the best Greek food (Thea's Taverna) and the best dim sum (Kirin Starlight) in all of New West.

    1. note to self – QB! spend a day!
      what's the difference between 'replies' & 'all new comments'?
      will try 'replies' this time…

  5. Woah! Thanks for the tips everyone. Especially for places to eat – after living here for almost 2 years we still go to Vancouver to eat out most of the time because we just don't know any local places. Can't wait to try some 😀

    1. NO…say it ain't so…Jim's Cafe on 6th for an old-fashioned brekkie, cheap…great hash browns!

    2. Reeja, there are lots of great restaurants in the area, if you like Malaysian food I would suggest checking out Tamarind Hill on 6th, it is fantastic!

    3. Also check out Go Thai at the corner of Columbia and Braid. Good food. Decor is so-so but the food is well priced and very tasty. Green Curry is awesome. I also was pleasantly surprised at Gino's on E Columbia a few weeks ago with fajitas on special. Very tasty. Ole Ole will also win me over with it's Mexican food (again, the decor is meh and he doesn't hold a liquor license) and I have been meaning to try the African place on 12th – everyone tells me it's awesome but I haven't made it yet.

  6. That the Sapperton river path doesn't connect to the Quay walkway (learned this the hard way and had to walk along the train tracks)
    Genie's Stitch in Royal Centre Mall is amazing!!
    Heritage Grill has great music every night
    Check out Couzies for breakfast.
    Victoria Hill sushi is really good!
    Queen's Park has a beautiful rose garden
    Irving House is by donation and is a great learning opportunity
    The Quay boardwalk pathway extends beyond the off-leash dog park (it took me 2 years to figure that out!)

  7. As a fellow Queensboroughian, ditto to everything Brigette said. : ) Queensborough is great for biking. There's not much traffic, lots of paths and unlike the rest of New West, it's flat, flat, flat.
    The Hyack Parade is not the lame, local parade I was expecting. It is a really good, real parade. Go. Cover your ears when the pirate ship comes by.
    In Final Destination 3 during the run-away truck scene you can see my barbecue on the balcony of my old apartment. You will have to be quick on the pause button to see it.
    People who buy and renovate New West heritage homes are heroes. Not an easy job.
    Queen's Park Butcher is worth it. Take cash. Don't go on Sunday or Monday.
    Do not underestimate the importance of lacrosse to New West.
    If you call the cops about the drug dealer in the building across from you, they will likely already know about him. They may ask to use your apartment for a stake-out.

  8. Oops! Forgot to mention Galloway's on Sixth Ave. Definitely wish I had known about it when I moved to New West. If you need any unusual cooking or baking ingredients, you will find them at Galloway's. Do not buy baking nuts anywhere else, they will be cheaper at Galloway's.

  9. Had to tell you about my 'main event' (there is lots of poetry here now):

    May 8th – OPEN MIC WITH A MOTHER’S DAY THEME
    Hosted by Reese McBeth (stand-up comic, look out…)

    POETIC JUSTICE AT RENAISSANCE BOOKS
    43 6TH St New Westminster BC, just up from Columbia Station
    4-6 pm SUNDAYS, except holiday weekends
    free / family-friendly language / ‘no host’ refreshment
    (started by Candice James & Franci Louann in July 2010)
    Pass it on? Schedule below…

    Come early & sign up for Open Mic
    Usually FEATURED POETS START at 4 pm
    (on Mother’s Day we shall have only an open mic)

    ‘Dead Poets’ are welcome, costumes too.
    Also your readings of works by living poets –
    bring us your favourite (family-friendly?) poetry.
    For more Information:
    Franci Louann 604-522-7613 flouann@telus.net

    Then…
    2011.05.15 ZAC JACKSON NYCE Reese McBeth
    2011.05.22 VICTORIA DAY CLOSED
    2011.05.29 MARY DUFFY Franci Louann
    2011.06.05 SUZY MALCOLM Reese McBeth
    2011.06.12 LUCIA GOREA Reese McBeth
    2011.06.19 DENNIS E. BOLEN Reese McBeth
    /SORESSA GARDNER bk launch/music
    2011.06.26 DANIEL MARK PATTERSON Reese McBeth
    2011.07.03 CANADA DAY CLOSED
    2011.07.10 WARREN DEAN FULTON Margo Prentice
    2011.07.17 ALEX WINSTANLEY Franci Louann
    /NICK EPPERSON ON CELLO CD/Book Launch
    2011.07.24 DANIELA ELZA Franci Louann
    2011.07.31 BC DAY CLOSED
    2011.08.07
    2011.08.14 JAN McINTYRE Reese McBeth
    2011.08.21 PAM BENTLEY Reese McBeth
    2011.08.28 BERNICE LEVER Candice James
    2011.09.04 LABOUR DAY CLOSED
    2011.09.11 FRANCI LOUANN Reese McBeth
    2011.09.18 CANDICE JAMES Reese McBeth
    2011.09.25 LORRE GIBSON Helene Levasseur
    2011.10.02 BONNIE NISH Candice James
    2011.10.09 THANKSGIVING CLOSED
    2011.10.16 SUSAN McCASLIN Franci Louann
    2011.10.23 ROBERT MARTENS Candice James
    2011.10.30 SANDY SHREVE Franci Louann
    2011.11.06 CHRISTOPHER LEVENSON Reese McBeth
    2011.11.13 ARMISTICE WEEKEND
    2011.11.20
    2011.11.27
    2011.12.04 NO FEATURE – OPEN MIC ONLY Reese McBeth
    2011.12.11 NO FEATURE – OPEN MIC ONLY Reese McBeth
    2011.12.18 NO FEATURE – OPEN MIC ONLY Reese McBeth
    2011.12.25 XMAS CLOSED
    2012.01.01 NEW YEAR DAY CLOSED

    Feature schedule and bio’s for future poets (updates) can be seen
    under ‘discussions’ on our Facebook page.

    To join our Facebook site visit the internet address below on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/people/Candice-James/1000

    POETIC JUSTICE VOLUNTEERS ARE NEEDED:
    For Saturday August 13 – 11 am to 8 pm –
    Poetic Justice table at Pandora Collective’s annual
    SUMMER DREAMS LITERARY ARTS FESTIVAL
    at Lumberman’s Arch in Stanley Park
    To volunteer PLEASE contact:
    Candice James 778-322-1131 saddlestone@shaw.ca

    RENAISSANCE BOOKS IS
    open every day 9:30 to 6:30
    except Christmas Day & New Year’s Day –
    only ½ hour from downtown Vancouver by Skytrain,
    has a large collection of fine used books,
    including out-of-print & hard-to-find copies,
    & new books by local authors.

    renbooks@telus.net http://www.renaissancebookstore.com

    Thank You to Lavana & John of Renaissance Books for providing Poetic Justice flyers, and hosting us with such good humour.
    Come early, stay late – to schmooze, to shop?

  10. Get an upward mobility workout on 12th. Street. New West's most unique shopping area.
    Start at the New Terminal Pub (Free Parking) head north and notice the many Car lots, New Westminsters only official 'Auto Mall". Stop at the new "Nooru Mahal" Restaurant and Bar located in the Corporate Inn. Accross the Street is One Source for all your printing and advertising aids. Still heading north is the SPCA, New West's version of VV. Get a classy Tattoo at "Fat City". Make an appointment for service at Perform-X Auto, Have a donair and coffee at "Paradise Donar"and "Coffee Mania". Buy an new Condo at "Shift" or drop in to "Community Savings. "Tony's" is a good spot for the handiman. The ledgendary "Neil Douglas Guitar Shop". "Ole'Ole" Mexican Food. Close your eyes and walk by the ugly yellow building which needs a demolition order and a development permit. continued

  11. here I am beating a drum I have beat before: the Royal City Curling Club is one of the best curling clubs in Canada: a unique place where novices can take a learn-to-curl clinic, join a novice league, then sit in the lounge and have a drink or a coffee with a world champion or two. Last year, I watched the Olympic Gold Medal winning team (Kevin Martin) play a game against the Canadian Champion (Kevin Koe): not one TSN or CBC, but right here in the Royal City.

    1. They also have "Little Rocks" for for ages 5 to 10. Only $50 for the season, starts at the end of September.
      Juniors for ages 10+, $75 for the season.

  12. ….Lams Auto is next followed by "Ambers Choice" a quaint bakery, soup and sandwich joint You'll find "Quiznos",
    7-11, Grapefully yours for your home brew (good prices) Noodle Box. Look for "Wind", "Pinoy Dragon", You will find many dog grooming and day care shops. Hair dressers galore, Ethnic retail food shops and Restaurants, Tailor, Hobby Shop, Taekwondo martial arts, Computer repairs, Purple Lotus Viet-Asian food, Sugar Mountain Catering to go with your trip to the many wedding stores on Columbia, Thirsty Duck, Lucky Strike Bowling, Hyack Trophies, Bike repair, Tip Top Cleaners, Sushi, Mohawk Station, Modern Furniture(real wood), Benjamin Moore Paint (very poular),
    On the way back to your car at the Terminal, head west on 3rd, cross Stewardson way, turn right and there you will discover "Pacific Breeze" New West's jewel of a real winery. continued….

  13. Here are some for parents of young kids: Motoring Munchkins at the Arenex in an awesome way to burn off some steam! Also not-known-to-us til we lived here for 2 years: the McDonald's at 8th and McBride has play tunnels – great for same reasons on a rainy day (not to mention you can sit and drink coffee while your kids go crazy). Kids in Motion in Sapperton offers dance and movement classes; Bloom art studio is art classes for kid's at the quay. Kid's Closet on 6th Street (at 4th ave) is a great little place that sells a bit of everything (feeding stuff, cloth diapers, pediped shoes, clothing, toys, books, you name it – saving you a trip and a drive to a big-box store for last-minute bday gifts and their prices are very reasonable). Pedagogy Toys at the Quay is a gem for beautiful and unique kid's toys, puzzles, games and books.

    Uptown Market (also 6th and 4th) is a fantastic little "choices" style independant market that sells just about everything, plus beautiful flowers. I used to trek to Save-On and Safeway until I realized that Uptown's prices were pretty much just as good if not better on a lot of things like dairy, fruit & veg, etc. and they sell Terra Breads and Avalon Dairies and lots of organics. Plus the staff are really friendly and if they don't stock something you want on a regular basis, they will actually order it in for you – how nice is that?

    Also great: the local library and Black Bond Books in the Royal City Mall – the latter great for last minute gifts and inexpensive greeting cards.

    Off to check out Queensborough's version of Motoring Munchkins today – apparently there is a bouncy castle. Exciting times.

    1. Donald's in the Quay is a branch of the classic Commercial Drive and Hastings&Nanaimo Street goceries. and quite cheap.

  14. I forgot to mention Pacific Breeze Winery, my new discovery. They are having a release event this weekend!
    Also, the best pub in town (in MHO) is River's Reach.

  15. The Mysterious East.
    Holland Shopping Centre, 141 EAST. Columbia Street, can't be found on first looking, but has wonderful sandwiches in their deli. And wooden shoes.B

  16. So great to see this discussion! We have been living in New West for just over 5 years now, and I have to say that after the over-abundance of cool shops and cafes and experiences in Vancouver, it was a bit of an adjustment to live here. What I have come to appreciate is the joy in the discovery, the challenge of trying to find everything locally. And the more you poke around, the more you find! The other cool thing is that ours is a city in transition–lots of new places, lots of change. So, with my ever-growing love for this place, I will share some of my favourite things, that help to make me miss Vancouver much less.

    –New Westminster is a centre of healthy living, natural health services and food stores. We have a massage school (with affordable services!), naturopathy school, wellness centres, yoga, and more!
    –today i got to shop for a fascinating array of natural food and household products at Donald's Market, then I enjoyed a yummy affordable lunch at Royal City Thai (the coconut juice came in a young coconut!), then browse the unique selection of foods and cosmetics at Karmavore
    –several amazing thrift stores, like the Royal Columbian Hospital thrift shop in Sapperton, the SPCA thrift store on 12th Street
    –lots of neato independent businesses that we love to support, like Press Start video games on 12th Street, Black Bond Books at Royal City Centre, Pedagogy Toys now in the River Market, Galloways on 6th Ave, etc.
    –the best discovery for us was the out-of-this-world soft and delicious wheat-free bread made at 6th Ave Bakery and Deli (right beside Galloways); because he makes bread with gluten he is not allowed to say it's gluten free, but it contains no gluten; great find for our family as we try not to eat gluten
    –beside the bakery is Denny's market, which has affordable produce, as well as a very cool selection of all kinds of foods from around the world; some organics, good dairy products, etc. they also sell Hon's potstickers in the freezer, for like $3 a pack. great to do the library, Shoppers, and hit the three little shops in that row–Galloways, 6th Ave., and Denny's
    –of course there is the famously scrumptious maple twist ice cream from the Quebecois restaurant on 6th Street (across from Wendy's) that also serves great poutine–and sells curds

    We love gymnastics at the Arenex in Queen's Park, we love the petting zoo and water park in Queen's Park, and all of the many offerings at our parks. The remade Grimston Park in the West End is incredible. Great wading pool and water feature.

    I think the thing that makes us feel the most connected to our community, the thing that has the most festive and happy feeling for us, is the Farmer's Market. We park ourselves there almost every Thursday. Meeting people, enjoying the food and music, seeing friends and neighbours. Beautiful setting. Outstanding atmosphere. I can't wait for it to start up again! Get ourselves a crepe, some kettle corn, a good tasty coffee, and sit down under the trees while the kids play. That is true New West bliss!!!

  17. Don't think I've seen it yet, but Boardgame Warriors on Clarkson (just a block up from the Waves) is one of the best board game stores in the city. You can even view their whole inventory online!

    Galloways — I absolutely cannot say how much I love that place. The prices are amazing — where else am I going to get almost a pound of flax meal for only $2???

    Kammie — The place you're talking about is Any's Dairy Bar. I dream about that ice cream as I can't really eat sugars and so I have to limit it to once or twice a year. The Poutine, among other things, is absolutely amazing!

  18. Oh, I should also probably add my favourite sushi place as well — Hyashi Sushi down on Columbia in the shopping centre. It's accross from the new Pharmasave and the Fish and Chips place. They have pretty good selection, especially for a small place. What really makes it though is the freshness of the fish, rice, rolls, and meat. The large salmon sashimi is my favourite — not to mention you get a good amount of fresh fish at a very reasonable price! I prefer it to Ki sushi as the staff is much more attentive and friendly.

  19. That reminds me of my family's favourite treat–wild salmon and halibut fish and chips from Cockney Kings. We are really lucky to have one here in town. Their fish is incredible!!!

  20. Tell me someone has Burger Heaven on here! Lots going on in New West!

    I live on the Sapperton side now, so a big plus 1 to Graze Market – you don't even understand until you eat their pulled pork. It's truly awesome. Greens and Things down the hill where Columbia and Brunette has a great variety of soups and sandwiches, along with a cheeky sense of humor. They dared me into eating the Clint Eastwood, which among other things on the sandwich, included a slice of tongue.

    Hume Park, tucked on the other side of Braid at NewWest's eastern border, is great with fields, tennis courts, lacrosse box often used for adult street hockey on weekends, and a great water park. If you follow the path out the back of the dog off leash area, it winds down into open green space. You can cross over North Street and follow the creek off road (but easy walking / biker riding) to Burnaby Lake Park. It's part of a trail network that stetches all the way to Science World.

    Great thread!

  21. Oh and Cap Bikes! They're a multi generation family business and you'll be hard pressed to find a more sincere and honest individual, with a great staff team. All class, and very passionate about livable space in New West.

Comments are closed.

Tenth to the Fraser