New Brighton Park is the eastern-most loop of dock lands bordering on Burnaby.
Apart from excellent views of the harbour, the primary attraction is New Brighton Park, with its large outdoor heated pool and surrounding picnic grounds, and the Pacific National Exhibition grounds and Hastings race track to the south.
From here you can head east to the Trans Canada trail accessed from under the Second Narrows Bridge (take Bridgeway south of the tracks), or go over the bridge into North Vancouver/Deep Cove. But if you’re riding the Vancouver seaside route, this is the northern beginning, and from here you head west.
New Brighton (1.4 km/0.9 mi):
Riding On: Adjoining Seaside Routes
East: Out of Vancouver and into Burnaby. Following past the Second Narrows Bridge and the railway bridge, you can take the Trans Canada trail.
West: The Docks (Bypass). Heading west, you can’t travel along the dock roads, and have to take a detour through blocks of light industry with a heritage back to the blue collar Vancouver of the thirties and forties.
This area was not a part of Vancouver until 1911 and it parallels settlement there. In the mid-nineteenth century, before Vancouver was developed, it was a resort area for people in New Westminster, and ear-marked as a future harbour location with land between Boundary Road and Nanaimo reserved for development as “Hastings Townsite.”
It began with a customs house in 1866 connected by trail to the city of New Westminster which was then the capital of the Colony of British Columbia. Hastings sawmill (actually “Stamp’s Mill” until 1870) which is where Vancouver is now (see Portside) had only just begun operations and the customs house was designed as a satellite of New Westminster’s customs house so that ships loading wood at sawmills on the Inlet wouldn’t have to make the trip up the Fraser River to New Westminster to clear customs.
The trail became Douglas Road (which still runs through Burnaby) and was used by citizens of New Westminster to get to the beach at Brighton. From there it developed into a small waterfront resort area on the edge of the great forest.
A Granville-Hastings road connecting New Brighton/Hastings Townsite to pre-Vancouver Granville was completed in 1877. Previously, the only road linking New Westminster to Granville was what is now Kingsway. Our Hastings Street lies south of the original road which followed the contours of the shore.
New Brighton’s past as a resort area lingers on with New Brighton Park, near the location of a early locally-famous hotel and with Hastings race track, and the PNE (Pacific National Exhibition) continuing to offer vacationers more to do during their visits.
Subsequently the area became more industrialized and residentially blue-collar as the port expanded further east along Burrard Inlet.