Author's note:
All material on this website is covered by copyrite.
A version of this article
was published in the Oct. `01 issue of
`Airlines', the in-flight magazine for
Westjet Airlines.

NEW WESTMINSTER QUAY

Story and Photos by

LEE A. WOOD

When was the last time that you saw a submarine? Obviously, for some of you, the answer would be, "Just what the heck to do you think I'm standing on?" For most of you the answer will be, "Never".

Until now the closest I had been to a sub was in 1974 when I stood on Ten Mile Point in Victoria, British Columbia and watched the sail-by for the decommissioning of the HMCS Rainbow.

Now however, I can actually say I have been on, and in, a submarine. And not just a movie prop but an actual slim, black, aquatic needle of death and destruction.

U 521

Patrol Sub.

300 Ft. Long. 23 Feet Wide.
Built in Russia. Foxtrot Class.
20 years in the Russian Navy.
Never saw battle.
Sold again, late in 1999,
U 521 was moved to a new berth in Victoria, B. C.

(pic. of Russian sub)
From Russia with Love.
Stripped of her motors to make room
for the passage of tourists, U 521 was towed
to Canada by tug boat. A metallic immigrant she
resides at the Quay in New Westminster, B. C.

`06/03/24
I thought you might like to update your web site as
the Soviet submarine has left New Westminster for good.
It went to Victoria, and then later to the United States?
Colin S.
Manager,
New Westminster (B.C. Canada) Museum and Archives
`6/9/17
The sub. is moored at the San Diego Maritime Museum.
Steve R. Prehistoric Publishing Vancouver, Canada

Towed over from Russia and docked at the quay (pronounced Kee by New Westminsterites) in New Westminster, British Columbia, this now obsolete, and dearmed, diesel powered, vessel of war is open to the public.

The hatch on the deck of U 521, that was originally used for loading torpedoes, has been replaced with a door and a stairway so the guide can take you through the cramped quarters where the sailors worked, and lived, for months at a time.

Though she carried twenty-two slim pencils of death this Foxtrot class vessel, built in 1971, never fired a shot in anger.

A few feet in front of the bow of this bright black submersible is another remembrance of the past. Almost nose to nose, or stem to stem in Naval parlance, the Royal City Star dwarfs its neighbour in size and brilliance with its gleaming white lattice work railings, tall smokestacks, huge stern paddlewheel, and flashing neon signs and lights.

(Royal City Star Casino)
Originally commissioned in New Orleans, Louisiana, as a floating casino,
the Queen of New Orleans was refurbished and recommissioned in New
Westminster, British Columbia as the Royal City Star. From the muddy
Mississippi to the muddy Fraser the 1,000 passenger vessel continues to
entertain tourists and gamblers.

In front of the Casino, construction is under way on the Discovery Center.
The main floor to be an information center for the Fraser River and its
history, the upper floor will be a waiting area for the Royal City Star, when she is not at her berth.

Royal City Star

Renamed after the Royal City of New Westminster.
250 Ft. 2,000 Hp.
8 Knots.
Steel Construction.
Unable to turn or dock it is always accompanied by a tug boat.
10 AM - 3 AM daily. 4 decks.
Restaurant.
Banquet room.
Bar. Slots.
Mini baccarat.
Blackjack. Pai Gow.
Caribbean Stud.
Let it ride poker.
Practice tables.
The casino will move several meters upstream after the U521 moves to False Creek.

Remodelled in 1999 to represent the riverboats that used to ply the waters of the silt laden Fraser River taking supplies to the miners during the Barkerville gold rush, the Royal City Star is actually an import from Louisiana. Built in 1994 for the Mississippi River she was a casino for the Hilton Hotel chain.

This latest addition to the growing number of casinos in the Vancouver area of British Columbia sails downstream twice daily, weather and river traffic permitting.

Even if you are not a gambler you can go aboard to see the splendour of a bygone era and enjoy the sights as she cruises beneath the majestic Alex Fraser Bridge.

When the Royal City Star returns, the waves from her paddle will wash across the hulls of more modern vessels parked downstream. Westminster Tug Boats are tied along a wharf projecting from the quay.

NOTE: The City Star was closed in 2007 Dec. In Dec. `09, she was towed to Elk River Falls (just North of Campbell River, B. C.) in May `13 she was sold to a company from Alberta.

(pic. of tugboat)
WESTMINSTER TUG HUNTER

With four, fifty foot, harbour tugs, ranging in size from twelve hundred to three thousand horsepower, Westminster Tug Boats Inc. specializes in ship berthing and towing on the Fraser River.

Towering above the water craft, though only two stories tall, built upon the quay itself, is the New Westminster Quay Public Market.

The Public Market is a veritable cornucopia of more than seventy stalls selling everything from cordon bleu to the latest issue of your favourite magazine.

PUBLIC MARKET

  • Alpine Bakery.
  • Cheese Please Plus.
  • The Cobbler's Bench.
  • Cody's Books.
  • Cotton Q Boutique.
  • Daily Catch Seafoods.
  • Farm Cottage Baking Co.
  • I'm Impressed.
  • Joan's Gems and Minerals.
  • Johnson Farm's fresh Vegetables.
  • Kennedy Travel Service.
  • King's Wok.
  • Mae's Leather & Accessories.
  • Nancy's Pots and Pans.
  • New West Farms.
  • Olde World Fudge.
  • Orange Julius.
  • Paddlewheeler Neighbourhood Pub.
  • Pastameli of New York.
  • Quay Quality Lingerie & Accessories.
  • Quay Quality Turkey.
  • Stichtime.
  • Riva souvenirs.
  • Sweet and Natural Health Foods.
  • Top of the Quay hair studio.
  • Touch of Africa.
  • Troll's Seafood Restaurant.
  • (pic. of Public Market)
    THE CLOCK TOWER LOOKS DOWN ON THE
    WESTMINSTER QUAY PUBLIC MARKET
    AS THE OVERPASS CARRIES SHOPPERS AND TOURISTS
    OVER THE NEVER ENDING STREAM OF TRUCKS ON FRONT ST.
    UPSTREAM ENTRANCE TO THE MARKET
    (pic. of Public Market)
    A PRODUCE MARKET
    DOWNSTREAM ENTRANCE TO THE MARKET
    (pic. of Public Market)
    LEONARD'S MEATS AND A PRODUCE MARKET
    THOR - THE PIANO PLAYER
    (pic. of Public Market)
    A VERSATILE PERFORMER
    I FIRST MET THOR, TEN YEARS AGO,
    PLAYING CHRISTMAS CAROLS ON A GRAND PIANO
    IN THE OAKRIDGE MALL
    HE WAS WEARING A TOP HAT AND TAILS.
    YOU CAN CONTACT THOR (THE PIANO PLAYER) LEIF TUNOLD, AT 604 582-7745

    The Quay is a favourite spot for locals and visitors to catch up on some shopping or to sit and relax on the balcony overlooking the ships and boats going back and forth on the muddy Fraser River. Enjoy a snack, a meal, or a drink, in the food court; a restaurant, or the neighbourhood pub.

    While the market towers over the tugboats and fish boats tied to the wharf, the next building downstream towers over the Market. The `Inn at Westminster Quay' is a modern eleven story, three and a half star, hotel with convention facilities.

    (Pic. of the Inn & the Boardwalk)
    The afternoon sun outlines the Inn at Westminster Quay in the background
    and highlights the autumn leaves between the Public Market and the Seaside walk.
    Inn at Westminster Quay

    126 rooms, all with panoramic river views.
    Executive Jacuzzi suite.
    Honeymoon suites.
    Fitness center.
    Boardroom.
    Banquet facilities.
    Boathouse Seafood Restaurant.

    (pic. of Inn)
    Part of O'Neil Hotels and Resorts.

    The reflection of lights on the water give the evening stroller a view of serenity as compared to the hustle and bustle of river traffic viewed during the day.

    ACROSS THE RIVER
    (New Westminster, B. C. - Freighters on the far side of the river.)
    FREIGHTERS AT THE FRASER / SURREY DOCKS
    SEAWALL
    (New Westminster, B. C. - A lady on a sunny promenade.)
    A SUNNY PROMENADE ALONG THE SEAWALL DOWNSTREAM FROM THE QUAY
    SEAWALL RESIDENCES
    (New Westminster, B. C. - apartment buildings on the edge of water.)
    A LOVELY LAGOON BETWEEN RESIDENTIAL COMPLEXES
    SEAWALL RESIDENCES
    (New Westminster, B. C. - Apartment buildings on the edge of water.)
    A TRANQUIL SETTING IN AN OTHERWISE BUSTLING METROPOLIS
    SEAWALL RESIDENCES
    (New Westminster, B. C. - Apartment buildings overlook the seawall and the Fraser river.)
    RESIDENCES, SEAWALL, AND RIVER ALL FLOW DOWNSTREAM FROM THE QUAY
    STAGED RESIDENCES
    (New Westminster, B. C. - apartments surrounding a fountain area.)
    VARYING THE HEIGHTS OF THE BUILDINGS ALLOWS A MAXIMUM NUMBER OF RESIDENTS TO HAVE A VIEW OF THE COURTYARD AND THE RIVER
    RESIDENCES, SEAWALL, AND RIVER
    (New Westminster, B. C. - Apartment buildings overlook the seawall and the Fraser river. People stroll along the seawall.)
    A CASUAL STROLL IN THE LATE AFTERNOON SUN
    A SUBMARINE BREACHES
    (New Westminster, B. C. - A mock submarine appears to come out of the seawall.)
    A CARELESS GUARDIAN ALLOWS A CHILD TO CLIMB ON THE OUTSIDE OF THE GUARD RAIL AT A CHILDREN’S' PLAYGROUND ALONG THE PROMENADE

    Beneath the rooms that project over the water is the SS Samson V, an old sternwheeler that is now a maritime museum. Open daily in the summer it is closed on weekdays during the winter but open on Saturday and Sunday.

    Starline Eco Tours

    Beta Star 60' catamaran.
    Atria Star 38' tour boat.
    1 1/2 Hr. Sea Lion Tours downstream to Steveston
    in April and May.
    Day trips up the Fraser River to the
    Harrison Hotel at Harrison
    Lake from June to August.
    Daily 6 Hr. lunch trips to
    Pitt Lake, weekdays during the
    summer months.

    (Pic. of Paddlewheeler)
    S.S. Samson

    To the West of the SS Samson is another wharf where two sightseeing companies reside, Starline Eco Tours and Paddlewheeler River Adventures.

    Starline's sixty foot catamaran, Beta Star, and their thirty-eight foot tour boat, Atria Star, offer charter tours along the river, luncheon tours to the lodge at Pitt Lake, and Christmas Carol tours during the festive season


    (Pic. of Paddlewheeler)
    MV. Native

    Paddlewheeler River Adventures' sternwheeler MV Native offers a tour upstream where it docks at Ft. Langley while the passengers tour the restored Hudson's Bay Trading Post.

    M V Native

    Built in 1985. 92 Ft.
    Diesel power.
    Historic guided tours.
    Dinner Tours. Charter Tours.
    Weddings, banquets.


    Samson V, Maritime Museum

    FRAMED BY THE ENTRANCE GATE
    THE SS SAMSON AWAITS YOUR VISIT

    THE LARGE FRAME AND CABLES ON THE FRONT
    WERE USED TO LOAD AND UNLOAD
    OR TO DRAG THE BOAT OVER SANDBARS

    STEAM POWERED WINCHES MOVED THE CABLES

    The quay offers large parking lots for cars, but unfortunately there are no docking facilities for water travellers. There are, however, docking facilities in False Creek and the Main Street SkyTrain Station is just across the street from Science World which is situated at the end of False Creek.

    Between the buildings and parking lots and the swiftly flowing water is a wooden walkway which is open to the public and stretches downstream past the hotel, an office complex, and several apartment complexes.

    Across Columbia Street is the New Westminster stop on the SkyTrain. This station of the rapid transit is about half way between the end terminals, Waterfront Station in the heart of the city of Vancouver and the King George Station in the centre of the municipality of Surrey.

    (SkyBridge)
    In the background the SkyTrain passes over the Fraser River on the SkyBridge. Beneath the SkyBridge trucks and cars cross on the Pattullo Bridge.

    A new Park Under the SkyTrain, Just Upstream from the Quay, at SappertonENTRANCE
    (A Personal Page logo.)
    THE ENTRANCE TO THE PARK

    BRIDGE, TRAIN, PARK, & SKYTRAIN
    (A Personal Page logo.)
    THE PATTULLO BRIDGE IN THE DISTANCE, TRAIN TRACKS TO THE RIGHT THE SAPPERTON GREENWAY LIES IN THE SHADOW OF THE SKYTRAIN
    TRAIN(S)
    (war and remembrance, painting.)
    A TRAIN WAITS ON THE TRACKS FOR ITS TURN TO CROSS THE RIVER. ABOVE, THE SKYTRAIN SHADES THE GREENWAY FROM THE SETTING SUN

    Known as the Royal City, because it was named by a Queen, New Westminster is the San Francisco of Canada. Old buildings housing offices and stores are separated by steep cobbled streets that climb away from the river's edge to Queen's Park and up to the newer shopping area on the top of the mountain.

    The Quay area is separated from the downtown core by railway tracks and a busy street. More than one pedestrian overpass will take you above the thundering locomotives and the endless stream of trucks that pass through the city on Front Street where quaint little shops hide beneath the overhead parking.

    (pic. of Columbia St.)Across the tracks from the Quay the downtown Corner of Begbie and Columbia Streets are is host to film company vehicles as they make a TV commercial for Honeycomb cereal. In 1999 Hollywood North expects to exceed the one billion dollar mark for film production.

    Between the tracks and the SkyTrain station, near the foot of the main pedestrian overpass is an old CPR (Canadian Pacific Railway) station that is now a Keg Steakhouse.This one, built in 1898, is a replacement for the first one that was destroyed by fire.

    (pic of Royal City Star)

    As everyone is familiar with The Keg (Good Friends Great Steaks), there is no need for me to tell of the fine dining that can be experienced there.

    Whether shopping, sightseeing, honeymooning, or just going for an afternoon coffee, the New Westminster Quay, with its myriad attractions, is a destination you don't want to say you have `Never' seen.

    Access to New Westminster is a short five minute walk from the Amtrak terminal, through a lovely park, to the Main Street SkyTrain station and then a picturesque twenty minute ride on the SkyTrain. The train will carry you through the Southern part of the city of Vancouver, above Trout Lake, through the city of Burnaby, over the top of a mountain covered with sky scrapers, and down to New Westminster, with spectacular views of the Fraser River and the City of Richmond.

    For the same one dollar and fifty cent ticket, or three dollars, depending on the time of day, you can stay on to the end of the line and come back again to the Westminster Station while enjoying a breathtaking view as you soar above the Fraser River over the SkyBridge.

    (Pacific Central)
    Just a short walk, through the park, from the Main Street SkyTrain Station is the former Canadian National Railway Station. The Pacific Central is the Vancouver Terminus for Greyhound, PCL (Pacific Coach Lines), VIA Rail, and Amtrak.

    END

    Authors Notes:

  • `99 Sept. - This story was originally written
  • Since the writing of this article, U521 has left the Fraser River. (It now makes its home in the inner harbour of Victoria, B.C.'s provincial capital, on the Southern tip of Vancouver Island.)
  • `01 Sept - This story was updated and sold . (2 years, to the month, after it was written.)
  • `01 Oct. Story appeared in `Airlines' . (Inflight magazine of WestJet Airlines.)
  • `02 June - Logos and links, and additional photos, added.
  • `06 March - U 521 update and additional info.
  • '13 I learned that the Star is now sitting in moth balls at the wharf in Elk Falls, B. C. (An, now, unused pulp mill.)

    Author's note:
    I have copied this page from Google's Cache as the link to the original page is no longer active.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    This is G o o g l e's cache of http://members.shaw.ca/VMSS/binn/sepsub.htm as retrieved on 6 Feb 2006 17:23:22 GMT.

    Google is neither affiliated with the authors of this page nor responsible for its content.

    The "Russian" Sub at New Westminister

    ****Update November 2000****This sub is now berthed in Victoria BC beside the Canoe Club at the foot of Swift Street****

    by Romain Klaasen

    Fueled and propelled by Ron Wild's letter to the Binnacle - published encomium, I better live up to last month's promise and talk about my two under whelming visits to the so-called "Russian" sub (U-521) that is or was tied up in the Fraser River at the New Westminster Quay.

    Accompanied by wife, son and two granddaughters, I devoted part of Boxing Day 1997 to being rushed through that piece of junk, dropping copious bucks ($7.00 for me and less for my escorts), and snapping pictures. But my camera must have sensed something. The snaps didn't turn out all that well, because I hadn't put in a film. The bear for punishment that travels with me drove me back on February 1st last year. There had been no improvement during the five or so weeks that had lapsed between disappointments No. 1 and 2. The guide said (and seemed to know) very little on both dates, the tour was as fast and as unsatisfactory the second time as it had been the first time but, Whoopee! Now my pictures did turn out well and clear. Even the Cyrillic notices are plain and clear, but not understandable.

    Perhaps, prejudice may have played a role. Why, for starters, was she advertised as a "Russian" sub? Her 1971 launching goes back to the days of the Evil Empire, when "U.S.S.R." and "Soviet" were part of our vocabulary. So, O.K., that's nit picking. Still, the hoped-for public appeal that may have lurked in the "Russian" moniker didn't do the trick. The owner-syndicate went belly up, U-521 was auctioned off to a Los Angeles-based group and, going by the Colonist, may be towed to Victoria, for christ-sake. What if she sank in Active Pass? Would that thrill B.C. Ferries? Not all that likely.

    Breathing easier now, I may as well jot down a few words about the U-521 sub, which the NATO gang had labeled a Foxtrot. The 300.1' long object was cobbled up by Sudomekh Krasnaya Sormova Shipyards, in Sverdlofsk (see why Russian and Ukrainian school kids fail spelling tests?) in 1970/71, commissioned in 1974 (three years to fix the leaks?) and decommissioned (all in one piece, by golly) after 19 years in 1993. U-521 has or had three Tatra diesels, three shafts with a screw on the end of each, and three electric motors. Three, three and three must have made it easier to balance the very dented brute. Anyway, it says she trucked along at 18 ks surfaced, and 16 dived. Not too shabby, what? Meanwhile, no one hides the fact that she represents an unmitigated knock-off of the Nazi's Type XXI. Just a few small differences here and there: for starters, the bodies at Sudomekh took a leaf out of the British Admiralty's book on subs, and made 100 per cent sure to uglify the Type XXI's fine lines. Next, where the German workers may have used grinders, files and squares, the Sudomekh honchos must have issued torches, sledgehammers, picks, axes and guesses to their comrades. No kidding: I haven't seen a purer, clearer fuller strength lack of pride in workmanship. Had the boat been mine, I'd have plastered Mickey Mouse decals all over. That way, I'd have known for sure why people could still laugh, after they'd parted with seven loonies.

    Another thing that hurt my eyes were the plywood partitions and paneling in the crew quarters. It looked as if the varnished wood was recycled from packing crates, or it may have been the rejects of a packing crate shop. Rough stuff. Count the knots and win a prize.

    It may have been that either the vendors or the new owners removed some of U-521's equipment, because there was not one periscope in sight, the radio room was as empty as a wasp' nest after the queen pulls out, and in the engine room there wasn't a motor in sight. It looked as spacious as a ballroom before a dance. And I was suspicious of three plywood panels on the floor. Maybe they covered the holes left by the three Tatras?

    Should you be tired of my tirade, I'll turn positive for a few brief moments. The tour guide did know a few things all right. He mentioned that the four stern tubes could only be loaded from the outside. That isn't or wasn't all that unusual. The unusual is that, before loading those four torpedoes, the Foxtrot's bow tanks had to be flooded so that the stern tubes would come up above the waterline. Meanwhile, six bow tubes were rechargeable from indoors. That makes it unlikely U-521 was ever caught with not a fish ready to launch.

    On one of the reserve berths in the torpedo room, there was one torpedo on display. It was painted green, had a very smooth finish, and sported a bronze screw that was impeccable in all regards. "The Soviets made this?" I asked. Indeed they did. In fact, bringing it into Canada had been quite a hassle. Customs had insisted on an inspection by a Navy expert just.......to make sure.

    Finally, an unexpected nice touch: on the table in the officer's wardroom sat a gorgeous samovar coffee urn. I'm not sure it came with the boat, but it was a nice touch. Oh, and by the way, the guide was fair enough to tell me that the controls column and its half wheel had come from a scrapped Canadian frigate. The original one was taken out in Sverdlofsk.

    I talked to a former R.C.N. submariner who had also visited the Foxtrot in New West. He, generally, was happier with what he had seen than I am. He mentioned, for example, that the pressure hull where it had been cut for public access showed some excellent, nicely welded steel. From that and other impressions, I gather that the then Soviets and now Russians do not subscribe to the "What looks good usually is good" maxim. Obviously, their priorities in manufacturing differ from what we are accustomed to.

    My October blurb will deal with visits to two other museum subs: Pampanito in San Francisco, and Blueback, in Portland. Those experiences, I suspect, coloured my take on U-521.

    Romanus Unicum

    END

    LATEST CURRENCY VALUES
    (BoC logo.)BANK of CANADACurrency Converter
    WEATHER ACROSS B. C.
    (Flag of Canada.)(Environment Canada Logo.)
    ENVIRONMENT CANADA
    (China weather logo.)
    China Metrological Association

    Temperatures in Chinese

    TRAVEL TIPS:
    Bargaining, Cameras, Computers, Taxis, Tipping, Upset Stomach, Water.
    VACATION PACKAGES
    Australia, Caribbean, Cuba, Europe, Hawaii, Mekong River.

    RELATED WEB SITES

    (Inn at the Quay Logo.)
    INN

    at Westminster Quay
    (The Keg Logo.)
    THE KEG

    Steakhouse & Bar
    (PRA Logo.)
    ONLINE

    Highway
    (PRA Logo.)
    PADDLEWHEELER

    River Adventures
    (Royal City Star Logo.)
    ROYAL CITY STAR

    Riverboat Casino
    (WestJet Airlines Logo.)
    WESTJET

    Airlines
    (Westminster Tugs Logo.)
    WESTMINSTER

    Tug Boats Inc.

    « To the Top of This PAGE
    (Head shot.)
    LEIGH KIRKWOOD
    Travel Consultant
    CLICK HERE
    For all your; Adventures, Cruises, or Resorts
    « Go back To My `BC' Page
    « Go back To My `CANADA' Page
    « Go back To My TRAVEL Page
    « Go back To My HOME Page
    SITE MAP
    search tips advanced search
    site search by
    free find logo
    Active Search Results
    Page Ranking Technology

    Search Engine

    Send me a comment (and I will add it to my Guest Book), or correction, or just say, "Hi"!
    (Mailbox)
    CONTACT FORM

    Thank you for visiting Lee's `NEW WESTMINSTER QUAY' Page.
    Please come back and visit again!