401 Columbia Street, New Westminster, British Columbia, V3L, Canada
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Guichon Block is a three-storey masonry Victorian Italianate building, with segmented arch windows at the second storey. Located on a steeply sloping site at the corner of Columbia and Fourth streets in New Westminster's historic downtown core, this prominent building has marked the eastern edge of the historic downtown and is the city's oldest surviving commercial structure.
The heritage value of the Guichon Block is directly associated with the earliest development of downtown New Westminster. The city grew through successive economic waves that followed its founding as the capital of the Mainland colony of British Columbia in 1859. This building represents the impact of the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) and marks a formative period in B.C.'s resource-based economy. Originally named the Queen's Hotel, this building is valued as the oldest on Columbia Street and is particularly significant for being one of two Columbia Street buildings that survived the Great Fire of 1898, the other being the adjacent Burr Block. As such, it represents the scale and style of construction that occurred in the downtown prior to the fire, as the post-fire buildings were constructed rapidly and were generally reduced in scale and opulence in comparison to pre-fire buildings.
Additionally, the Guichon Block is valued as an example of the work of Nova Scotia-born architect George William Grant (1852-1925), who arrived at the time that the CPR spur line was built to New Westminster in 1886, and designed much of the built environment in the city's downtown before and after the Great Fire. Grant's long-term success was due both to his skill in design and his expertise in building construction. The Guichon Block was one of Grant's first commissions in New Westminster.
The site is also significant for its associations with Laurent Guichon (1836-1902), who was an early landowner and developer of Delta who acquired and renamed this hotel in 1899. He was a French immigrant and is remembered as the founder of Port Guichon, the terminus of the Great Northern Railway in Delta, west of Ladner.
Source: Heritage Planning Files, City of New Westminster
Key elements that define the heritage character of the Guichon Block include its:
- corner lot location at a prominent corner on Columbia Street, 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
- cubic massing with flat roof
- three-storey scale, with lower level, in response to the steeply sloped site, with ground level access to the second storey at the rear
- remaining original Victorian Italianate style elements, including: pressed brick and stone facade elements now covered by a later coat of stucco; segmental arched window hoods; continuous horizontal stringcourses; and engaged pilasters that divide the facade into vertical bays
- ground floor retail storefronts facing Columbia Street and raised parapets at front and sides
- original 2-over-2 double-hung, wooden-sash windows on the upper two floors; the second floor windows have divided arched transoms above; and segmental arch window openings on the second floor
- heavy timber-frame interior structure
Local Governments (BC)
Local Government Act, s.954
Community Heritage Register
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Trade and Commerce
Function - Category and Type
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Hotel, Motel or Inn
Architect / Designer
McCarter and Nairne
Beckett and Co.
Location of Supporting Documentation
Heritage Planning Files, City of New Westminster
Cross-Reference to Collection