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Dominion Trust Block

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

Formally Recognized: 2004/04/05

Exterior view, Dominion Trust Block, 2004; City of New Westminster, 2004
oblique view
Dominion Trust Block, exterior view, ND; New Westminster Public Library, NWPL 1207
oblique view
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Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/08/29

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Dominion Trust Block is an Edwardian-era Classical Revival-style brick-clad commercial building, located on a corner lot on the south side of Columbia Street, with matching elevations facing Sixth Street and Front Street, in New Westminster's historic downtown core. The location on the steep slope allows for the structure to be partially buried, with a four-storey elevation facing Columbia Street and a six-storey elevation facing Front Street.

Heritage Value

The Dominion Trust Block is significant for its contribution to the consistent and distinctive built form of Columbia and Front Streets, which dates from between 1898 and 1913, when New Westminster was the major centre of commerce and industrial output for the booming Fraser Valley area. Prior to the Great Fire of 1898, this was the location of the City's tallest building, the Douglas-Elliot Block, constructed in 1890-91. In 1906, the newly-formed Dominion Trust Company acquired the long-vacant site, and construction started on a new building that incorporated the granite foundation walls of the previous structure. Originally planned for three stories, plans were revised mid-construction to include three additional stories, making this the largest office building in the city at the time. Designed in the fashionable style of the emerging Chicago School, with its tripartite composition, this landmark block occupies a prime corner site, and has three matching primary facades.

The Dominion Trust Block is additionally valued as a representation of the commercial history of New Westminster. When the assets of the Dominion Trust Company were liquidated after the firm's financial collapse in 1914, this building was acquired by David Spencer Ltd. In 1926, the block found a new life as the city's branch of Spencer's Department Store with the grocery department on the main floor, and hardware sold at the lower level facing Front Street. In 1948, the Spencer's Department Store empire was purchased by Eaton's, but this location was closed the following year in favor of its new location in the renovated City Market building. The lower floors continued in use as a Zeller's Department Store until conversion to general commercial space in 1982.

Source: Heritage Planning Files, City of New Westminster

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of the Dominion Trust Building include its:
- prominent corner location at Columbia, Front and Sixth Streets, 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
- form, scale and massing as expressed by its boxy multi-storey height (four-storeys high at the front and six-storeys high at the rear), flat roof and regular, rectangular plan
- commercial storefronts at both the Columbia and Front Street elevations
- masonry cladding, with pressed yellow brick with narrow tooled mortar joints, and original granite foundation walls from the Douglas-Elliot Block
- elements of the Chicago School, including tripartite facade articulation, regular fenestration and vertical brick pilasters



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
Trade and Commerce

Function - Category and Type



Commerce / Commercial Services
Office or Office Building

Architect / Designer

Henry Sandham Griffith


George McFarlane

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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