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YOUR HISTORY: Check out Coquitlam’s top historic sites
Summer is all but done but there’s still time to get the most out of your local heritage. Check out this list of the top historic sites in Coquitlam:
One of the richest heritage areas in Coquitlam is Maillardville. Named after community priest Father Maillard, it is located along Brunette Avenue, just north of Ikea. In the early 1900s the Fraser Mills lumber company, situated at the end of King Edward Street along the Fraser River, recruited skilled lumber workers from Québec and Ontario. The Québécois workers brought with them their French-Canadian culture and so Maillardville, the largest French-Canadian community west of the Rockies, was born.
In Maillardville, several sites can be visited in one day. First, there is Laval Square. Our Lady of Lourdes Church, the priest’s quarters and St. Anne’s Hall are found in their original locations around the square. See if you can guess which homes are also 100 years old. Self-guided tour brochures are available from Mackin House Museum or you can book a walking tour.
Next, there’s Heritage Square on the corner of Brunette Avenue and King Edward Street, where you’ll find three important buildings tied to Fraser Mills.
The mill manager’s residence, built in 1908, is now Place des Arts arts centre and music school. Mackin House Museum was built in 1909 for the mill sales manager and today, it is an interactive heritage house that offers tours and events. The little red 1910 Fraser Mills train station is the original building that was down by the train tracks behind Ikea. Ask staff at Mackin House for a tour of the train station and take a photo with the iconic Fraser Mills sign. (For more information or to book a tour, visit coquitlamheritage.ca or call 604-516-6151.)
Another destination in Maillardville is Mackin Park, located across the street from Heritage Square. Although not as old as the square, Mackin Park is a great heritage site for those with children. The park recently underwent renovations and now boasts a playground, spray park, skate park and French-style gardens. The washrooms even resemble a French cottage.
Elsewhere in Coquitlam, there is Riverview Hospital, located along Lougheed Highway. The 244-acre hospital lands, formerly known as Essondale, opened in 1913 and offered breakthrough mental health care: farming and fresh air to cure mental illness, among other treatments. Several original buildings are still standing and more than 1,900 significant trees are tagged in the arboretum. The grounds are closed to the public except during scheduled tours and events. Visit the Riverview Horticultural Centre Society’s website (rhcs.org) for more information. Also on the grounds is the Spark Radio Museum, dedicated to preserving radio artifacts and history. For more info visit: www3.telus.net/radiomuseum.
Colony Farm, located on Colony Farm Road just off Lougheed Highway, was worked by Riverview patients and supplied food to the hospital. Today, it is a park where you can walk the trails to see the 1908 bunkhouse and 1917 farm manager’s residence, as well as spot abundant wildlife. Part of this area is also home to the Kwikwetlem First Nation reserve, established 1871. For more info, visit metrovancouver.org and kwikwetlem.com.
Rounding off the list is Minnekhada Park and Lodge, found at the end of Oliver Road near Port Coquitlam. Built between 1934 and 1937, the lodge reflects upper-class living of the era and is open during scheduled hours. The related farmland, which is currently closed to the public, was established in 1895. The Minnekhada Park Association hosts many events at the lodge. There are also 10 kilometres of trails to hike, making it an exciting destination for nature-lovers too. Visit minnekhada.ca for schedules.
If you can’t make it out to see these heritage sites, or would like more background knowledge, books are available at Coquitlam Public Library. For more information on Coquitlam’s history, contact the Coquitlam Heritage Society at 604-516-6151 or email@example.com.
Your History is a column in which, once a month, representatives of the Tri-Cities’ three heritage groups writes about local history. Chloé Hemsworth is with Coquitlam Heritage Society.