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Three full stops on the line

July 9, 2011

Liverpool BC

Anticipating the completion of the New Westminster Southern Railway, speculators had been busy buying up land at the railhead, to the east of Brownsville at Herring’s Point. This was to be the site of the railway wharf and a trans-shipment station for passengers and rail cars until a bridge could be built.

The length of the railway wharf was to be 740 feet, and work was commenced in April 1890 under the direction of the contractor EM Bradshaw & Co. By June the wharf was complete and the Rand Bros Real Estate Co was trumpeting the sale of a town lots at the new townsite of Liverpool— "Fraser River Terminus of the New Westminster Southern Railway."


Liverpool advert 1
Liverpool – The Terminus of the New Westminster Southern Railway


The rails were still at sea, with no sign of the imminent arrival of the ships Cordelia and Astoria.

Taking note of the new townsite, the BC Directory would note:

"At present Liverpool consists of a wharf and a prospect."

Rails arrive  – Liverpool England to Liverpool BC

The arrival of the Cordelia from England was a tremendous event for the city of New Westminster.  It was reported that

"Eager watchers lined the wharves yesterday afternoon on the watch for the long expected ship with the New Westminster Southern Railway rails."

It was 11:30 at night before she put in to the dock at Liverpool, July 25, 1890

She was an iron-clad barque of 598 tons, bearing a cargo of 1500 tons of steel rails.  A sailing vessel, with four masts, and a crew of 14, she had a rough passage around the Cape.  She had been 140 days from Liverpool England to Liverpool BC.

On August 1st a party of railway men including JJ Donovan, Chief Engineer, George P. Janes, Engineer of Construction, James Leamy, construction contractor and Benjamin Douglas, a Director of the NWSR, went over to Liverpool to view progress.  Donovan and Leamy set out to walk the railbed to Fairhaven to inspect the work before the ties were laid.

A little ferry, the Nellie Taylor, commenced regular trips between the city and the Liverpool wharf in August.

Arrival of the locomotives

In the last week of August two locomotives arrived in New Westminster from Winnipeg.  Locomotive 199 was taken down by the Purdy to Fairhaven to work from the south.

"Twelve flat cars, one caboose, and locomotive 202 of the Great Northern have been taken over to Liverpool by the steamer Constance.  The locomotive will be put to work immediately drawing steel to the end of the track, and when this is completed it will be used on the ballasting train."

It was noted in the press that locomotive 202 was "small compared with the CPR engines."


GN Locomotives 199 and 202 The two locomotives bound for service on the New Westminster Southern Railway,  No.  202 and No.  199, were both class 33 (later called B-20), 4-4-0 engines from the Rhode Island works, manufactured in 1882-83 for the St Paul, Minnesota & Manitoba Railway.
Shown here in later years after having undergoing slight modifications. [Railroad Historical Society photos.]
GN Locomotives 199 and 202  


Nelson Bennett now had completed his opulent Fairhaven Hotel, and an excursion party from New Westminster went down by the steamer Purdy to Bellingham Bay to attend the grand opening. Bennett had bought the townsite of Fairhaven from its founder, Dan Harris, after frustration over negotiations with Eugene Canfield for a site at Whatcom.

In October the first hotel at Liverpool, a more modest edifice,  was completed by the firm EM Bradshaw & Co.  A press review noted that "it shows up in fine form from the hill in the eastern part of the city."

It was reported that an artillery shell was found at Brownsville during recent construction, left over from years of bombardment from naval gunners and the local artillery at practice.

The Cordelia had brought only a portion of the rails needed by the railway.  The second ship, the Astoria, arrived at Liverpool dock the last week of October, to much fanfare.  She had left Maryport England on February 24, was buffeted by storms off the coast of Argentina and nearly wrecked, and had put into Port Stanley, the Falkland Islands, on April 29th.  There she underwent repairs and sailed July 15th.  She arrived at Port Angeles on October 20, and from there was brought up the river under tow of the tug Lorne, 10 months since she left England.

It took less a little less than three weeks to unload the cargo of rails onto the Liverpool wharf.  Another two days were spent loading the ship with 200 tons of gravel ballast brought down from Port Kells, before the Astoria sailed for Tacoma to take on a cargo of grain bound for England.


With all the development going on a mile to the east of Yale Road at Liverpool, and a half-mile west at the new ferry terminal,  Brown’s Landing took on the aspect of a forgotten waypoint.  A traveller dusting through in the summer of 1890 described his impression.

"Brownsville has a small landing, a store, livery stable and hotel owned by Mr James Punch, Member of Provincial Parliament elect for New Westminster District."


James Punch James Punch was following in the steps of his predecessors in Brownsville– Ebenezer Brown, Robert Johnson and John Armstrong— and made a significant contribution to public life in the district, having served as Reeve of Surrey as well as a Member of the Provincial Parliament for British Columbia.

Punch was first elected to the Legislature, as an Independent, in the election of June, 1890.

He was also Postmaster at Brownsville, 1891-1898, before moving to the Boundary Country, where he was involved in mining.  He was never idle. He also served as an Alderman in Phoenix.

The photograph shows him in his latter years at Pemberton, where he was Postmaster  from 1913 until his death in 1922.  From Pemberton:The History of a Settlement.

James Punch, 1843-1922  
Thomas William Forster It was a watershed election for British Columbia and Surrey in particular. Thomas William Forster was the first labour candidate elected to the BC Legislature, nominated by the Miners’ and Mine Labourers’ Protective Association, on a Workingmen’s Platform.

Forster was elected in Nanaimo,  but had taken up farming at Clayton in Surrey. TW Forster would later marry Mary Bothwell of Tynehead. He represented Delta constituency (which included Surrey)  and served as Speaker of the Legislature in 1899.

Thomas William Forster  


In the absence of the busy MPP James Punch, the manager at Punch’s Hotel, and holding forth in the bar, was the popular Michael R Barry, a member of a pioneering Irish family of saloon-keepers well known in San Francisco and the Cariboo.

The Yale Road remained the primary thoroughfare on the lower Fraser and Brown’s Landing its entrepot. In April a new stage service operated by CH Walworth ran from Brownsville to Hall’s Prairie and on to the Sydenham settlement, at the location of present day Campbell Valley Regional Park.

South Westminster

Work was progressing on the building of the new ferry under the supervision of Captain Terhune at the Brunette Saw Mill boatyard. The boat was a double-ender catamaran that would draw 18 feet of water fully loaded and would be 100 feet in length with a 40 foot beam.

With her primary purpose being to ferry passengers, wagons and livestock in a safe and sedate manner between New Westminster and Brownsville, the boat in construction was being formed into a more formidable vessel.  The strength of her hulls ensured she would be an effective ice-breaker, not having to sit idle during freeze-up as the K de K had to.   As well, some modifications to the original plan included harnessing the power of the steam pumps to supply a strong stream of water to a turret nozzle. It was a cost undertaken not without argument but the result was that the  sedate and stable river ferry "was now practically a river-front fire engine."

The first contract to operate the new ferry was awarded to George H Grant, son of the late Angus Grant.  Another son, William Philpot Grant, formerly of the K de K, would Captain the boat.

(The old ferry K de K had been owned by the Grants and operated under charter to New Westminster and Surrey, but the new ferry was the sole property of the City of New Westminster, which contracted with a Captain to run her. Over the years she would have a number of masters.)

On the south side of the river the new ferry dock was being constructed about a half mile downriver from the Brownsville wharf.  The new wharf would measure 66 x 60 feet, with a shed of 50 x 23 feet and a waiting room 21 x 15 feet.

At the end of October the Columbian reported:

"The ferry landing across the river will be finished within the next week. An immense clearing has been made immediately behind the wharf and alongside the road leading to it.  This part of the country is henceforth to be known as South Westminster."

Lots measuring 66 X 132 feet, a subdivision of Lots 7 and 8, Group 2, were on the market in the real estate development of South Westminster.

At the beginning of December Alderman Bartley W Shiles– "father of the Ferry"–was given the honor of choosing a name for the new boat. He chose to call it the "Surrey."  Just before Christmas she was put in the water for the first time, and was ready for the installation of machinery.

At the close of 1890, there were still just 13 families residing at South Westminster, but a great deal of commercial development was in the offing and before the end of the year the ferry station on this side was completed.

South Westminster Ferry Landing The South Westminster ferry landing, shown in 1902 at left, was connected by a plank road east to the Yale Road (to the right) and south to the Scott Road.
Plank roads traversed swampy and boggy ground.
Also visible in this photo is the ferry Surrey at dock on the other side of the Fraser River, near the foot  of 4th Street .
South Westminster Ferry Landing  
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