New Westminster is a historically important city in the Lower Mainland region of British Columbia, Canada, and is a member municipality of the Greater Vancouver Regional District. It was founded as the capital of the new-born Colony of British Columbia in 1858, and continued in that role until the Mainland and Island Colonies were merged in 1866, and was the Mainland's largest city from that year until it was passed in population by Vancouver during the first decade of the 20th Century.
It is located on the right bank of the Fraser River as it turns southwest towards its estuary, on the southwest side of the Burrard Peninsula and roughly at the centre of the Greater Vancouver region.
New Westminster is located on the Burrard Peninsula, on the north bank of the Fraser River. It is 12 miles (19.31 kilometers) southeast of the City of Vancouver proper, adjacent to Burnaby and Coquitlam and across the Fraser River from Surrey. A portion of New Westminster called Queensborough is located on the eastern tip of Lulu Island, adjacent to Richmond. The total land area is 5.9 square miles (15.28 km2).
New Westminster secured a Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) branch line in 1886, but the completion of the main transcontinental line to Vancouver in 1887 shifted trade to Vancouver where the port was easier to access and never froze, unlike the Fraser River at New Westminster. Nonetheless, New Westminster weathered the loss, and remained an important industry and transportation center. The local economy has always had a mix of industrial sectors, but it has evolved over the years, moving from a reliance on the primary resources of lumber and fishing in the 19th century, to heavy industry and manufacturing in the first half of the 20th century, to retail from the mid-1950s to the 1970s, to professional and business services in the 1990s, and finally to high-tech and fiber-optic industry in the early 21st century.