New Westminster heritage tour takes on an eclectic vibe

The 2018 rendition of the New Westminster Heritage Homes Tour will please traditionalists and offer some surprises along the way.

The 39th annual tour features an eclectic lineup of homes including an Arthur Erickson-inspired mid-century home in Massey Heights and a Victorian-era cottage in Queen’s Park.

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“For New Westminster, this brings people to our city who perhaps haven’t been here before. My husband and I came to our first tour in 1988, and we purchased our house in 1989. It’s an introduction,” said Katherine Hutson of the New Westminster Heritage Preservation Society. “Plus, it’s such a positive, feel-good experience. It’s one huge open house, which appeals to lookyloos.”

Hutson is thrilled with the offerings in this year’s tour, which includes homes in several neighbourhoods and from a variety of eras, including a 1975 home in Sapperton.

“It is future heritage,” Hutson said. “I think if you were to talk to the heritage planner of New Westminster, that whole concept of heritage houses is fluid – it’s 50 years. Technically, in a few years that will be heritage. Heritage is more than the built heritage that people think of when you think of the heritage society.”

While some people may scratch their heads about including a 1975 house on the tour, Hutson said it’s an example of housing built in that neighbourhood at a particular time in the city’s development.

“Nothing has been demolished,” Hutson said of the house. “The homeowner has brought new life to that house. She has kept it and made it her own.”

The homes included in this year’s event are indicative of a shift in direction of the tour, which is set to morph into an eclectic homes tour following next year’s 40th anniversary celebration.

 “We are really going to celebrate homes from the past – I think people will enjoy that – but that will mark the end of the traditional homes tour, and we will probably do more eclectic tours,” Hutson said. “We are thinking we need to include more homes and more buildings that are of interest to all people. I do know to excite people about ‘heritage’ you have to expand it. Heritage is history and heritage is people and heritage is buildings, and that is what we are going to try to do – look forward.”

Folks who are interested in renovation and décor will be sure to find some great ideas on this year’s tour, which includes a 1951 home with a new retro diner-style kitchen, a 1880s to 1900s home (due to an expansion) that showcases its current owner’s collections and garden, and a 1964/65 bungalow that was once owned by the current owner’s grandma.

“A grandson bought his grandma’s house – and what they did with it is amazing,” she said. “It’s beautifully designed, it’s very modern inside, but they kept the façade and it’s grandma’s house.”

In addition to homes, three units in Arundel Mansions, a six-storey commercial and residential building on Begbie Street, are also opening their doors on this year’s tour – including a unit that’s got a “distressed” vibe and is sometimes used for filming. Irving House Museum, the oldest house in the Lower Mainland, is also featured on the tour.

In commemoration of this year’s 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, the tour will honour young men from New Westminster who served in the war. The Royal Westminster Regiment Museum will be open from 9 a.m. to noon on tour day so people can view artifacts from the city’s military history, and two of the homes on the tour will pay tribute to some of the local residents who served in the First World War.

The New Westminster Heritage Homes Tour is on Sunday, May 27 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are $35 or $25 for members of the New Westminster Heritage Preservation Society and are available online at www.newwestheritage.org or at Royal City Colours (700 12th St.), Champagne Taste (1102 Royal Ave.), New Westminster Museum and Archives in Anvil Centre (777 Columbia St.) or GardenWorks Mandeville (4746 Marine Dr.)

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