The earliest residents of this area were the Coast Salish. The name Coquitlam was originally pronounced Kwayquilam, which it is believed was derived from Kokanee or Kickininee, a little red fish similar to sockeye salmon. Although Simon Fraser passed through the region in 1808, European settlement did not begin until the 1860s.
Coquitlam began as a "place-in-between", since the area was opened up with the construction of North Road in the mid-1800s. While the purpose of the road was to provide Royal Engineers in New Westminster access to the year-round port facilities in Port Moody, the effect was to provide access to the vast area between and to the east.
The history of the early years is one of settlement and agriculture. Growth was slow and steady and, in 1891, the municipality of the District of Coquitlam was officially incorporated.
The young municipality got its first boost in the dying years of the 19th century when Frank Ross and James McLaren opened Fraser Mills, a $350,000 state-of-the-art lumber mill on the north bank of the Fraser River. By 1908, a mill town of 20 houses, a store, post office, hospital, office block, barber shop, and pool hall had grown around the mill. A year later one of the most significant events in Coquitlam's history took place: mill owners, in search of workers, turned their attention to the experienced logging culture of Quebec, and in 1909, a contingent of 110 French Canadians arrived, recruited for work at Fraser Mills. With the arrival of a second contingent in June 1910, Maillardville was born.
Maillardville, named for Father Maillard, a young Oblate from France, was more than just a French-Canadian enclave in Western Canada. It was a vibrant community, the largest Francophone centre west of Manitoba, and the seed for the future growth of Coquitlam.
While the passing of time has diluted the use of the French language in BC, it is still heard on the streets and in the homes on the south slope of Coquitlam. Maillardville's past is recognized in street names that honour early pioneers and in local redevelopments which reflect its French-Canadian heritage.
Coquitlam is located north of the Fraser River and Trans-Canada Highway 1. It is 26 kilometres (approximately 30 minutes) from downtown Vancouver and about 40 minutes from the US border.
A shared vision of the City of Coquitlam, the arts community, private business, and senior governments, the Evergreen Cultural Center is more than a venue for the arts and culture - it is a civic facility designed to host a wide variety of community events. It is located in the heart of Town Centre and offers arts programming to suit everyone's tastes, from live theatre, comedy, musical concerts, visual arts workshops, festivals, and more.
Place des Arts is a teaching arts center and music school located in Coquitlam's new Heritage Square in picturesque Maillardville. The Centre offers a wide range of programs for adults, children, and teens. A variety of arts programming is offered that includes: arts, music, dance, drama, and visual arts. The Centre also provides space where community artists may display their work.
Heritage Square offers visitors a wealth of historic sites, gardens, a bike path, and an outdoor amphitheatre. It is also home to the long-established arts centre, Place des Arts, Mackin Heritage Home & Toy Museum, and the Coquitlam Heritage Society. As well, visitors can tour the CPR Station House and Caboose, museums run by the Canadian Historical Railroad Association.
The Square is important because it marks the gateway to the historic Fraser Mills site, and contains the original homes of the mill owner and sales manager, Ryan House (now part of Place des Arts) and Mackin Heritage Home & Toy Museum. The Station House is the original Fraser Mills CPR station at which many immigrants and Quebecois arrived at the turn of the century, seeking a new life on the west coast.
The 38,000-hectare Pinecone Burke Provincial Park lies south of Garibaldi Provincial Park, west of Pitt Lake and Pitt River, extending south to Burke Mountain in Coquitlam. This park is a wilderness area that is not regularly serviced or patrolled, and offers day hiking, overnight backpacking, camping, rock climbing, wildlife viewing, winter sporting activities, and much more.
Recreational trails are a vital component of a healthy city, and are one the most requested recreation facilities in Coquitlam. Coquitlam's trail system totals over 90 kilometres and includes a portion of the Trans-Canada Trail, which spans from coast to coast.
There are trail surfaces suited to all types of activity within a relatively short distance of all residents. Greenways such as Hoy Creek Linear Park, play an important dual role as a protected area for watercourses and a setting for nature trails and viewing areas.
Sports programs provided by the city include soccer, football, lacrosse, baseball, basketball, tennis, other racket sports, gymnastics, and many more.
There are several fishing spots in the area, including Belcarra Park, Buntzen Lake, Lafarge Lake, Sasamat Lake, Pitt Lake, and along the banks of the Coquitlam River. Fishing in Como Lake is open to children and seniors only.
Festival du Bois
Join the celebration of Canadian folk, Celtic, and world music, with dances, crafts, and food - all with a French twist! Great fun for the whole family.
The soul of Festival du Bois is the celebration of francophone and Quebecois culture in a fun, accessible community environment - offering an extraordinary festival experience to folks of all ages and from all cultures and backgrounds.
Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia