The woods are magnificent, superb beyond description but most vexatious to a surveyor and the first dwellers in a town. I declare without the least sentimentality, I grieve and mourn the ruthless destruction of these most glorious trees. What a grand old Park this whole hill would make! I am reserving a very beautiful glen and adjoin- ing ravine for the People and Park. I have already named it ‘Queen’s Ravine’ and trust you will approve. It divides the town well from the military Reserve...” Colonel Moody, 1859, in a letter to the Governor of BC
The name “Glen Brook” for the current stream and associated ravine park may have originated with folks who visited or went skating, swimming or fishing in the “glen” that was located next to Government House (approximately where Royal City Manor is located today). A “glen” is a Scottish term for a deep valley in the Highlands that is “narrower than a strath”. A strath is a wide and typically shallow river valley.
The Royal Engineers established a camp on the eastern shores of Glenbrook Creek, to be used as their base in laying out the new townsite. A plan of the camp’s layout, drafted by John D. Spittle, also shows hatching for the ravine which housed the creek.
New Westminster’s first public park, the history of Glenbrook Ravine is also tied to that of the BC Penitentiary and the Provincial Lunatic Asylum (later renamed the Woodlands School), constructed on its eastern and western banks respectively in 1878. Both institutions relied on Glen Brook for their water systems, and one employee of the penitentiary recalls the presence of a fresh, potable water spring at Cumberland and 8th.
In 1912, the Glenbrook Sewage Scheme saw the brook enclosed in a large pipe to better serve the city’s water system.
It is quite likely that Glen Brook or Glen Stream supported salmon and trout, at least in its lower gradient reaches and any tributaries.
Aerial photos are one way to observe changes in the landscape over time. Click through the gallery below to see how Glenbrook changed throughout the 20th century.