From the earliest years of this city, there has been an interest in presentations with themes like history, art, literature and international cultures. It was not uncommon to find early notices of a talk given by a visitor in town, sometimes as a fundraiser for a group or institution. In the early days of the Royal Columbian Hospital, there were many speakers who promoted this valued institution. On one occasion near Christmastime, a minister gave a well-attended talk on the Holy Land, lauded as a most appropriate topic, and brought in some badly needed funds. When New Westminster was busy gathering items to go to London, England, for an exhibition in the 1860s, the people involved in this process held presentations about what was being assembled on the West Coast. The public library in this city, with links to what was known as a “mechanics institute,” was often the venue for a program of some sort about an author, First Nations’ artwork, or a particular ancient society. Program descriptions always seem to centre on a body of images projected by a lantern slide machine. This early “projection system” was able to show pictures of far-away places and from some accounts, was absolutely astounding for many in attendance. As we move up into the early 1900s, movies began to draw attention, particularly those that included images of the town. Someone would film local activities or the landscape linked to May Day or the exhibition and then these moving images would be shown to huge crowds in a local theatre. In terms of historical themes, we find that the library, groups like the Sons of Scotland, groups that might have included “geographical” or “scientific” in their names, an early historical society, and later, other groups like the Native Daughters and Native Sons, were very involved in small exhibitions and presentations on the stories and items from the local past. It is always worthwhile to watch for the publications that some of these bodies created as they offer information from the period, and while it may be dated, it is of value. Today in New Westminster, the Heritage Preservation Society is active with meetings, information, advocacy and the highly popular “homes’ tour.” That tour is coming in May, so watch for information especially about an addition to the tour this year. Another group, the New Westminster Historical Society, meets once a month to enjoy presentations on topics of an historical nature, mostly on or related to, the Royal City. This group is marking a 40th anniversary this year with an upcoming program that will include tales, anecdotes and other stories from the four decades of their meetings. Come out for the program on Wednesday, April 20 starting at 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the New Westminster Public Library. Just like in the city’s early days, we still gather for presentations. Source.