Deboville Slough - Coquitlam, BC Photo Evelyn Allmen
Coquitlam is a suburban city with shopping, culture and the arts, parks, fishing, water activities all within its boundaries or nearby. The Evergreen Cultural Centre with its live theatre, festivals and more; 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.
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 offers day hiking, rock climbing, wildlife viewing, winter sporting activities, and much 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. Enjoy biking or walking? Coquitlam’s trail system totals over 90 km / 56 mi 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. 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.
Coquitlam is located north of the Fraser River and Trans-Canada Highway 1. It is 26 km / 16 mi east of downtown Vancouver and about 40 minutes north of the US border. Coquitlam is accessed via Hwy 1 or Hwys 7 or 7A.
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.