Westminster City- If you want to feel the vintage vibe, then there are few better places than Westminster in the whole of Canada. Located in the district of Vancouver this place has art, culture, food, music and even adventure sports to offer the locals as well as the foreigners.
Situated in the lower region of the mainland British Columbia, this historic city of Westminster belongs to the regional district of Greater Vancouver. A historic place, by all means, a walk around this town will make you feel you are walking through times forgotten as the city boasts a 150-year old history. This quaint place was formed during the colonial expansion of the 1850s and has a small community that always welcomes outsiders with open arms. Named after the famous Westminster by Queen Victoria, this city lies at the centre of Metro area of Vancouver district, making it a remarkably well-connected location.
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The city is one of the well-planned cities considering its age. It is because the royal engineers were at the helm of designing the city and hence, for a city of 150 years, it has well-built roads and appropriately segregated blocks. Fraser River passes by it along its left and Vancouver city is located only 19 kilometres away. Spanning across 1.53 sq. Kilometres of the area, the town has several historical areas and some modern ones. The B.C Penitentiary, popularly known as the Skookum House, is one of the oldest places in the area and has a hundred-year-old prison that dates back to colonial times. While the area has now been mostly converted into condos and townhouses, offices and parking spaces, the old armoury is a subtle reminder of the long history.
The other old establishments include Chinatown, second in size only to Vancouver’s. Woodlands used to house a mental hospital, but currently, have none after a fire destroyed it all few years ago. Chinatown also suffered from a fire almost a century ago but has since then been rebuilt, and there is another small section of the Chinatown called The Swamp that has now become populated. Columbia Street is the most flourishing area of the city, with all the markets, retail stores situated here. There are office towers, theatres as well as modern day roads.
Accommodation And Housing
One of the major regions for housing is the Columbia Street that hosts massive condo towers. Queensborough is a more suburban area where you can find cheap housing facilities. Recently, some condos have been developed. Sapperton is a similar location that has long been one of the suburban areas but recently gaining currency with plenty of urban development. One of the finest hotels in Westminster is located in Westminster Quay. Inn at the Quay, as it is popularly known, is probably the best place to enjoy luxury living. The Met Hotel is another hotel to enjoy luxury in the city.
Most of the hotels vary from 60 Dollars per day and can go up to 100 Dollars per day depending on the quality of the hotel. However, if you are looking for cheaper options, you can rent a condo or a home-stay which charges around 11-12 Dollars per day and can go up to 40 Dollars depending on the quality and location. If you choose rooms at the outskirts of the town towards the Downtown area, you will be getting it for cheapest possible rates. On the other hand, the most expensive ones are located at Columbia Street with the station at proximity and advanced features.
Food And Grocery Shopping
Columbia Street is the go-to place for all kinds of shopping experiences because of the abundance of retail shops. Eaton’s, Woolworth’s, Kresge’s and other big retail stores are located here. So much so, once upon a time, even people from Vancouver used to come here to have a great shopping experience. Currently, only the Uptown area has the stores. Queensborough also has some big stores like Lowes and Walmart. The uptown of Sixth Avenue is known as the Restaurant Row as it houses some of the most exquisite cuisines like Italian, Greek and Malaysian dishes that are available in the restaurants concerned.
Needless to say, there are plenty of options for entertainment in a city of such cultural heritage. There are numerous theaters like the Massey Theatre, Burr Theatre, as well as other heritage stages like Bernie Legge Theatre that used to be a performative space for vagabonds during its early days. There are all kinds of theatrical genres including the musicals, the mystery, and the comedy. The musical theater is allocated to Massey while the others are distributed across the various stages available. There is an international festival for Burlesque that has been going on since 2006. The city has a rich history of the comedy theater and also housed big halls like Paramount, Columbia from the eponymous production houses.
Columbia Street has all the major cinema halls in the town. Apart from cinemas, the theaters are as always the primary sources of attractions for both the locals as well as the foreigners. There are plenty of traditional festivals in such an old city. Hyack Festival runs for a week during the month of May, and you can enjoy carnival rides, fun parades, and much more entertainment programs. FraserFest, a July-bound fest, displays a huge tugboat procession along the river with theater performances taking place on it. Alternatively, if you are a sports lover, then you can spend some time watching Lacrosse in the Queen’s Park Arena during the summer.
Travel And Transportation
The streets and avenues run in opposite directions from northwest to southeast. The Trans-Canada Highway is very near to quite a few avenues, making it a nationally connected city. The Queensborough Bridge functions as a connected between mainland of the town with Queensborough. There are other bridges like Alex Fraser Bridge, Pattullo Bridge, Derwent Way Bridge that connects the various islands and parts of the city. TransLink provides the public transport services across the town while SkyTrain takes care of the train services.
There are quite a few lines including the New Westminster Station, 22nd Street Station, Braid Station, Columbia Station, etc. There are four railways services at your disposal including the Canadian National Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway, etc. However, they are not passenger services.
Cost Of Living
Cost of living varies highly in a region like Westminster city that has a place like Columbia Street as well as the Sapperton and Queensborough. If you are living in a home-stay with 11 Dollars rent and avoiding the expensive restaurants at Sixth Avenue, then 800 Dollars will be enough to go by per month. However, it can increase and decrease, depending on the luxuries you want to enjoy. For vacationers, the cost of living is, of course, higher because they will be enjoying the vacation with grandeur.
A bustling city, by all means, there are plenty of employment opportunities for various kinds of professionals. You can work in sales of the various retail offices if you want. Because of the long heritage of theatre productions, make-up artists and stage production houses are also a good source of work for creative people as well as students who are looking for a source of income. You can work in a proper office too in the Columbia Street area. The big departmental stores also offer all kinds of jobs.
Part Time Work
Part time work is in abundance for students who want to make some extra cash. Due to the vast number of restaurants and retail shops that hire part-time workers for sales and other necessities, students never have any problem in finding work. However, if you want to do a creative job, you can work in theatre groups too, especially if you are an art student.
Sports activities are in abundance, so Westminster city is an attractive place for sports lovers. Hockey, lacrosse, football are some of the most popular games in the city with New Westminster Salmonbellies bearing the heritage of lacrosse for years now. They are quite famous too because of their winning streaks across decades, and you can enjoy them during the summers. You can join soccer teams too if you are still of age. Swim clubs also provide recreation, and you can avail a training session too if you are a novice. The vibrant sports culture makes it an instant attraction to the sports lovers.
Vancouver area houses quarter of a million Indo-Canadian people and most of them are Sikhs, hailing from Punjab. Westminster city has around 5000 of them, and it also houses a Sikh temple. While the community is apparently small, 5,000 is not an insignificant number in a city having 71,000 residents. The community is very vibrant and always welcomes fellow countrymen with open arms. Some of the surrounding areas also offer language courses in Punjabi.
Because of the vibrant sports culture, live sports are a traditional broadcasted format in pubs. Schank is the biggest sports bar in the region, and you can enjoy live streaming there. Otherwise, if you just want to catch a drink and relax, then the Terminal Pub, the River’s Reach pubs are some of the best bars in town. There are places for local people as well tourists & students to enjoy some exotic dr