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British Columbia Electric Railway Company

774 Columbia Street, New Westminster, British Columbia, V3M, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2004/04/05

Exterior view of the BC Electric Railway Company ; City of New Westminster, 2004
Oblique view
Exterior view of the BC Electric Railway Company; New Westminster Public Library, NWPl 1258
Oblique view
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Other Name(s)

British Columbia Electric Railway Company
New Westminster Interurban Depot

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1910/01/01 to 1911/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/08/29

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The B.C. Electric Railway Company (BCER) building is a landmark two-storey building, situated on a corner lot adjacent to the former rail station, on the south side of Columbia Street, the main commercial street in New Westminster's historic downtown core. Once accessed on two sides by rail tracks that ran diagonally through the building, there are additional frontages at the rear on Front Street, and at the side on Eighth Street, which has now been closed and paved as a plaza.

Heritage Value

The heritage value of the BCER Company building is associated with the development of regional commuter and freight transportation, and the increasing importance of New Westminster as a transportation and distribution hub in the Lower Mainland. It was built at the time that the B.C. Electric Railway Company was extending its interurban system east to Chilliwack, to serve the fledgling agricultural communities and forest industries of the Fraser Valley. The 'Market', 'Milk', 'Mail' and 'Owl' trains provided rail links between the metropolitan areas and the upper valley, facilitating rapid development in the sparsely settled lands to the east. The Fraser Valley line opened on November 6, 1910, and established patterns of settlement that, despite the line's closure in 1950, are still evident today. This landmark building was designed in 1909 and constructed in 1910-11, and included offices and the dispatch centre for the interurban system. The design allowed interurban cars to pass though the building diagonally to connect the Front Street and Columbia Street rail tracks though a large opening on Eighth Street. Its location opposite the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) station integrated local, regional and national transportation systems.

Additionally, the BCER Company building is significant for its contribution to the consistent and distinctive built form of Columbia and Front Streets, which dates from 1898 to 1913, when New Westminster was the major centre of commerce and industry for the booming Fraser Valley area.

Further heritage value lies in the building's architecture, designed by the prominent Vancouver-based architectural firm Maclure and Fox, the partnership of Samuel Maclure (1860-1929) and Cecil Croker Fox (1879-1916) who were best known for their numerous prestigious residential projects. It is a rare example of one of their commercial commissions, designed at the height of their success and influence. The long, horizontal massing, emphasized by banks of windows and stone banding, was a successful resolution of a challenging program that integrated different uses - retail, commercial and industrial - within one structure.

Source: Heritage Planning Files, City of New Westminster

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of the BCER Company building include its:
- location with frontages on Columbia Street, Front Street, and Eighth Street (which has now been closed and paved as a plaza), part of a grouping of late Victorian and Edwardian era commercial buildings in historic downtown New Westminster
- siting on the property lines, with no setbacks
- spatial relationship to the CPR station across Eighth Street
- regular, rectangular form, two-storey plus partial lower level height, flat roof and cubic massing
- surviving original exterior features obscured by a later aluminum cladding, such as the pressed brick and granite cladding, arched window openings, and top portions of wooden window-sash
- steel frame structure
- interior features have not yet been assessed and may have value and contain character-defining elements



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)


Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Communications and Transportation

Function - Category and Type



Station or Other Rail Facility

Architect / Designer

Maclure and Fox


Martin and Broley

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Heritage Planning Files, City of New Westminster

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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