Going through my blog posts for the past year I found a piece I wrote defending Burnaby against the Vancouverite ‘burb-haters and I thought it was about time I wrote about my new home of New Westminster.
New Westminster (not New Westmin-i-ster!) was founded in 1858, named personally by Queen Victoria, hence the nickname: “The Royal City”. However, recently there’s been some suggestion that New West needs to update its image and find a new moniker. The Royal City Record suggested “The Fun City” because in the summer you can’t walk 2 blocks without running into some sort of festival. I think “The Fun City” sounds terrible, nor am I a fan of the monarchy, so I took it upon myself to come up with some alternate suggestions:
New Westminster: We Like to Bang
Get your mind out of the gutter: I’m talking about cannons! New Westminsterites love their cannons. There is no such thing as an event in New West that does not involve cannons, preferably fired by someone in a pith helmet. The opening of the yearly Farmer’s Market starts with a cannon. Cannons travel down 6th Street each year for the Hyack parade. The Remembrance Day ceremonies made me feel like I had lived through a World War.
Just in case anyone thinks cannons are too quiet, once a year there’s the Anvil Battery Salute. Here’s the description from the Royal City Record: “The actual firing of the anvil involves placing a 68 kilogram anvil on top of a 159 kilogram anvil, with only 56 grams of black gunpowder between them.” They do this 21 times to simulate a 21-gun salute. Some stores run out of sunscreen in the summer; New West stores run out of earplugs. In 2010 only 3 schoolchildren almost got hit by flying shrapnel. This is considered a success.
The People’s Republic of New Westminster
This is the unofficial nickname for Burnaby, but I’m thinking New Westminster could challenge them for the title. After all, only 2/4 of Burnaby’s MLAs are NDP, compared to 1/1 for New West, plus both New Westminster’s MPs, and most of the City Councillors are progressive.
New Westminster was also the first municipality in Canada to pass a living wage policy, which has been endorsed by…the Ferengi. That’s right. I’ve worked in politics for a while and it never occurred to me to seek out policy validators from the realm of science fiction. But luckily for New West, her municipal politicians are looking at the stars.
New Westminster: Our Absurdly-Named Sports Teams will Kick Your Ass
New Westminster proves that sports teams don’t have to have names that make sense in order to excel. For one, there’s the Hyacks football team. For some reason, New Westminster really latched onto the Chinook word Hyack, which means “quickly” or “hurry, hurry”. In addition to the football club, there’s the Hyack Swim Club, and the Hyack Festival and Parade, neither of which has much Aboriginal about it other than the name. At any rate, at least it left the field wide open when they were choosing a mascot, which explains why they chose…a fireman? Go figure. At least it doesn’t seem to have hurt their showing!
Then there’s the lacrosse club, the New Westminster Salmonbellies, or ‘Bellies for short. What I want to know is why emphasize the salmon belly? Why not just the New Westminster Salmon? The New West Sockeye? Despite their slippery moniker, the ‘Bellies have led New West to 24 national Mann Cup championships since 1901.
New Westminster: Once the Capital of BC
Many New Westminster residents are bitter about the fact that Victoria is now the capital of BC, and understandably so! I mean, New West has lots of things that Victoria doesn’t have, like a really big hill and the world’s biggest tin soldier and… lots of cannons. If we ever engage in a 18th-century land battle with Victoria, we’d crush them like bugs.
Now I actually quite like Surrey, but it has a bad reputation and New West could feasibly run with that. The drawback of this comparison is it just reinforces how difficult it is to make jokes about New Westminster. Consider the following jokes Surrey jokes fit to a New West context:
Q: What does a New Westminster girl do in the morning?
A: Participate in one of the many fine festivals in her neighbourhood.
Q: What did the New Westminster resident name his pet zebra?
Q: Why do New Westminster girls wear so much hair spray?
A: To protect their coifs from the flying pieces of anvil.
Clearly, they don’t have quite the same ring to them as the originals, although I’m told they go over like gangbusters at a Sapperton garden party.
So I think we’ve got a few good options here. Always happy to be of service.