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Digby House

826 Royal Avenue, New Westminster, British Columbia, V3M, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2004/04/05

Exterior view of the Charles and Ann Digby House; City of New Westminster, 2004
Oblique view
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Other Name(s)

Digby House
Charles Digby House
Charles and Ann Digby House

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1884/01/01 to 1886/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/09/06

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Digby House is a modest Victorian era wood-frame cottage, located near New Westminster's historic downtown core. Built on a steeply sloping site, there is a one-storey front elevation facing Royal Avenue, and at the rear two storeys are exposed. It sits adjacent to another cottage of a similar vintage.

Heritage Value

The Digby House is associated with the earliest development of downtown New Westminster. It is valued as one of the oldest buildings in New Westminster and is particularly significant for having survived the Great Fire of 1898, which devastated most of the downtown area. Despite the fact that most other homes along Royal Avenue east of Sixth Street and homes on the north side of Royal Avenue and Tenth Street were destroyed, this home and the adjacent Alexander and Elizabeth Ferguson House were spared, and their situation and proximity to one another demonstrate the spatial configuration and general size of the pre-fire residential fabric. Built circa 1884-1886, this house is a rare surviving example of a typical vernacular Victorian era cottage once common throughout the city.

Additionally, this house is valued for its association with its pioneer owners. English-born Charles Digby first came to New Westminster during his service from 1858-1863 with the Royal Engineers. When the Royal Engineers disbanded in 1863, Digby took up a 150 acre land grant at Pitt Meadows and began an unsuccessful farming venture. He returned to New Westminster in 1873 upon his marriage to Ann Elizabeth McMurphy (1857-1919), daughter of Sgt. Major John McMurphy with whom he had fought during the Crimean War. Digby built this house for his family while he was employed by the Royal Columbian Hospital. As their family expanded and they moved to larger quarters, they retained this house as a rental property. Until his death in 1907 at the age of seventy-two, Charles Digby worked variously as a bricklayer and as the Steward of the Royal Columbian Hospital.

Source: Heritage Planning Files, City of New Westminster

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of the Digby House include its:
- spatial relationship to the adjacent Alexander and Elizabeth Ferguson House
- minimal setback from Royal Avenue
- symmetrical rectangular plan form, modest one-storey plus basement residential scale and simple, cubic massing
- hipped roof, extended over later rear extension
- wood-frame construction with original wooden drop siding with cornerboards
- central front entrance off Royal Avenue
- original 2-over-2 and 1-over-1 double-hung wooden-sash windows
- internal red brick chimney with corbelled top



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

Peopling the Land

Function - Category and Type



Single Dwelling

Architect / Designer




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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