Home / Accueil

Federal Building and Post Office

549 Columbia Street, New Westminster, British Columbia, V3L, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2004/04/01

Exterior view of the Federal Building and Post Office, 2004; City of New Westminster, 2004
Oblique view
No Image
No Image

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/08/15

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Federal Building and Post Office is a five-storey masonry International Style building, featuring a granite and andesite-clad facade with regular fenestration, located on the north side of Columbia Street at the corner of Sixth Street in New Westminster's historic downtown core.

Heritage Value

The Federal Building and Post Office is significant as a late contribution to the consistent and distinctive built form of Columbia Street, which dates from when New Westminster was the major centre of commerce and industry for the booming Fraser Valley area.

The Federal Building and Post Office is valued as representative of the continual presence of the Federal Government on Columbia Street at this site since 1860. The site has long been used for government functions, first as the location of colonial government offices, then as a Federal Post Office , built in 1882, and a City Library, built in 1891. These structures were destroyed by the Great Fire of 1898. A new federal government building, including a Post Office, was built on this site in 1900 and a large addition completed in 1913. In 1939, a large Moderne-style addition was added to the rear of the Post Office block in anticipation of its demolition and replacement. Delayed by the Second World War, the final stage of the project was approved in 1955, incorporating the 1939 structure. The building was subsequently purchased by the City and renovated, re-opening in 2001. Today it continues to serve in a civic function, housing the New Westminster Police Department on the first two floors, with the top floors converted to residential use.

As completed in 1958, the Federal Building and Post Office is a robust example of the International Style, expressing the clean-line functional expression and geometric severity of mid-twentieth century modernism. Its prominent location and severe facade are a striking presence on Columbia Street. The plans were prepared by the Federal Department of Public Works (DPW), under the direction of Chief Architect, Edwin Alexander Gardner, who was born in 1902 and served as Chief Architect of the DPW from 1952 until his retirement in 1963.

Source: Heritage Planning Files, City of New Westminster

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of the Federal Building and Post Office include its:
- location on Columbia Street at the corner of Sixth Street, in a grouping of late Victorian and Edwardian era commercial buildings in historic downtown New Westminster
- siting on the property lines, with no setbacks
- form, scale and massing as expressed by its massive five-storey plus lower level height; flat roof and strict rectangular plan
- masonry construction, including a concrete internal structure and granite and andesite exterior cladding
- elements of the International Style, such as planar surfaces with minimal ornamentation and volumetric expression
- additional exterior articulation such as: projecting corner bays; corner entrance; and fluted concrete spandrels
- regular fenestration including aluminum storefront sections, and double-hung 1-over-1 wooden-sash windows on upper floors, in double-assembly on the Columbia Street facade
- interior features such as terrazzo floors and interior stairwells



British Columbia

Recognition Authority

Local Governments (BC)

Recognition Statute

Local Government Act, s.954

Recognition Type

Community Heritage Register

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1958/01/01 to 1958/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Governing Canada
Government and Institutions

Function - Category and Type


Multiple Dwelling
Police Station


Office or office building
Post Office

Architect / Designer

Edwin Alexander Gardiner



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Heritage Planning Files, City of New Westminster

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




Related Places



Advanced SearchAdvanced Search
Nearby Places