The first Anglican service in New Westminster was held on Sunday September 2nd, 1859 in the Customs House. The Reverend John Sheepshanks had arrived in the colony the previous month. The first of three Church buildings was completed the following year, was of wood construction and was destroyed by fire in 1865.
The second building was built of stone and was consecrated on December 18th, 1867. The first Bishop of the new diocese, The Right Reverend Acton Sillitoe and Mrs. Sillitoe arrived in New Westminster on June 18th, 1880 and this church became the Cathedral of the Diocese of New Westminster in 1892. This building was also ravaged by fire in the disastrous fire of 1898 which wiped out the greater part of New Westminster.
Our current Cathedral is a reconstruction of the previous church, the walls and foundations of which were found to be sufficiently strong to be reused. The outside face had been so badly scaled with heat that it was necessary to cement the whole exterior with the exception of the tower. The nave was extended by 13 feet and the roof was simplified omitting the clerestory windows. The restored church was opened for services on All Saint’s Day in 1899 and by Easter, 1902 was declared free of debt and consecrated on April 3rd of that year.
HTC was the Cathedral Church of the Diocese until 1929 when Archbishop de Pencier designated Christ Church as his Cathedral. The Parish of Holy Trinity was disappointed in the decision, but after twelve months of negotiations a settlement was finally reached which included the right of Holy Trinity to retain the title of Cathedral in perpetuity.
The Royal Westminster Regiment just celebrated its 150th Anniversary. We have been the Chapel to the Regiment for all 150 years. Prior to the existence of the Regiment, while the Royal Engineers were still stationed in New Westminster, Holy Trinity Cathedral was the Chapel attended by officers while St. Mary’s was built by and for the enlisted men. They were class conscious.