history in Photos
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- Fort Langley established
Pitt River was originally called Pitt's River, cited by James McMillan
(of the Hudson's Bay Company) in an 1827 letter "as if it was already
a familiar name to him." It is also sometimes referred to in Hudson's
Bay Company journals as the "Quoitle" River, possibly a Kwantlen word.
1853 - The First Settlers
The Rob Roy (a schooner) drops the McLean family off, the first European
settlers. Donald McLean, was only two years old when he arrived with
his Mother, Father (Captain Alexander McLean), his brother and a hired
hand. They erected a cabin on the lush meadows, which also provided
a welcome source of food for his cattle. McLean begins a dairy farm.
- The Letter
January 28: a letter from Royal Engineers Colonel Richard Moody to Colonial
Governor Douglas mentions Mary Hill. (The hill was named for Mary Moody,
the colonel's wife.) And "Mary Hill" is shown on an 1859 Admiralty survey
chart made by Capt. Richards of H.M.S. Plumper
- Ned Atkins
The Ned Atkins family arrives in Coquitlam from Ireland, and "took 160
acres east of Mary Hill near the foot of Pitt River Road."
1862 - Lots for Sale
A private firm contracted out by the Royal Engineers constructs Pitt
River Road. Unsurveyed lots of up to 160 acres in this area are free,
although land in what will become the Port Coquitlam area, already surveyed,
costs 10 shillings an acre.
1864 - First Farm
1864 T.J. Scott of New Westminster begins to farm in the future Port
1885 - The CPR
CPR, at the request of New Westminster businesses, builds a spur line
- running south from the main line that goes into Vancouver. Where the
spur line meets the main line is called New Westminster Junction, or
just Westminster Junction (and sometimes just "the Junction".) The area
around the Junction - eventually to become Port Coquitlam - is growing
as a farming and logging community.
CPR station opens at Westminster Junction.
1886 - Settlement
the people came to settle!!
All kinds and manner of people came. The vast majority stayed and settled
and it is these people who started the valley on its next dramatic step!
1890 - End of the Sternwheeler's
Sternwheelers gradually begin to ease out of service on the Fraser River.
The Junction Schoolhouse is built.
1891 - Incorporation
The valley became incorporated as Coquitlam Municipality
in 1891. Land could be bought for $25.00 per acre and was in a wild
state, as deer, bear, skink, wild cat and other animals roamed freely.
A by-law was passed for payment of bounties for the following:
1892 - Coquitlam municipal hall is built.
1894 - Flooding and the Gold Rush
There is severe Fraser River flooding, and some people leave for good.
The Klondike gold rush. Pioneer John Gately went to the gold fields,
succeeded, and on his return was able to speculate in real estate in
what would become Port Coquitlam.
1900 - First logger and map
A. R. Millard comes to Port Coquitlam "about" 1900. He is believed to
be the first logger to operate extensively in the district, logging
along the Coquitlam and Pitt Rivers and on Burke Mountain. Millard becomes
a prominent PoCo merchant, running a general store, hardware store and
a liquor store!
A map of the PoCo area is drawn. The map shows the Dewdney Trunk, Pitt
River, Coast Meridian and Pipeline Roads and the names of the pioneer
1903 - Junction Hotel opens
1,000 acres in Coquitlam are purchased by the Province of B.C. for a
new mental hospital. Part of the area purchased was in what is now Port
Coquitlam. Work on construction will start in 1905.
Thomas W. Quilty comes to Westminster Junction, later opens the Junction
1906 - School days
The Stave Lake Power Company increases the capacity of its dam on Stave
Lake in Maple Ridge to supply power to Maple Ridge and, beginning in
1912, to Westminster Junction.
There are now two school classes at the Junction School, on present-day
Wilson Avenue. It is not uncommon for local students to walk seven miles
1909 - Hospital for the Mind
The first permanent building for the provincial mental hospital, later
called West Lawn, is built north of Colony Farm on the area known then
as Mount Coquitlam. The asylum was then known as the "Hospital for the
- A busy year!
February 25, 1911: The foundation stone for the
provincial mental hospital, Essondale, is laid by the Lieutenant-Governor.
The Coquitlam Star starts publishing. It lasted
Coquitlam Star, Sept. 8, 1911: "What Pittsburgh is to the United States,
so Will Coquitlam be to Canada" The paper prints a map of the area.
The CPR proposes a major expansion of its facilities in Westminster
Junction including a shipyard at the mouth of the Pitt River. There
is much speculation in land and Coquitlam invests heavily in the development
of new streets and sidewalks, costing more than $200,000.
The CPR moves its freight operations from Vancouver to PoCo.
The newly-arrived Coquitlam Terminal Company promotes Westminster Junction
as a site for larger industries.
Fever" hits the area as a result of the impending opening of the Panama
Canal. This will give an assured boost to the local economy.
1912 - Why Port Coquitlam?
In 1912, the boom resulting from "Panama Fever" continued and residents
soon agreed that Westminster Junction should become a city.
In 1911, the Coquitlam Terminal Co. had initiated a contest for a new
name for the area. Many leaned toward the name "Westminster Junction"
& considered it more suitable as it favoured the railway.
Others supported the original Indian name "Coquitlam". Eventually, as
the City's future was thought to be centred on it's role as a port,
"Port Coquitlam" was chosen.
January 18: The Commercial Hotel opens at the corner of Lougheed Highway
and Flint Street. There are 46 bedrooms, 8 bathrooms, a bar, dining
room, reception, ladies rooms, and two stores on the ground floor. "The
hotel will be furnished in modern style and in every room there will
be hot and cold water, each room being heated by hot water radiators
and lighted with electricity."
Westminster Junction gets power from the BC Electric dam on Stave
By the end of 1912 there are five schools in Coquitlam: Millside; Blue
Mountain; East Coquitlam; Westminster Junction and James Park.
September 12, 1912 Premier Richard McBride visits the Junction to open
the new $6,000 Agricultural Hall. The building is described as of "modernized
Moorish design." The building later became a community hall.
1913 - From the Weekly Globe and Canada Farmer
March 7, 1913: Westminster Junction secedes from Coquitlam and takes
the name Port Coquitlam. The new little city assumes 5/8ths of the original
municipal debt of $225,000.
PoCo's population at incorporation is estimated at 1,300.
1913 - From the Weekly Globe and Canada Farmer "The natural geographic
position is the most desirable for an industrial site and a port. Level
land in a "Sea of Mountains" is more valuable than in any part of the
Dominion. Considering there are 6,000 acres of level territory, with
more than six miles of frontage on Pitt River, the possibilities are
unlimited. In her capacity as a Port, however, Coquitlam will achieve
her greatness. The CPR Co. has noted that by its interest."
March 23, 1913: The first baby born after incorporation is Jim David.
Mr. David is still living in 1999.
April 18: Inauguration Day, the formal celebration of the new city's
creation. The inaugural ceremonies and activities are covered in all
the Lower Mainland newspapers; the first mayor, James Mars (who had
been Mayor of Coquitlam) gives medallions to local school children.
Mayor Mars predicts a population for Port Coquitlam of 10,000 in three
years. It will actually be more than 50 years before the city will achieve
Kelly's Hall, on Kingsway, is used as Port Coquitlam's first City Hall.
(This building will be destroyed in the 1920 fire.) A new hall (the
present one) will go up in 1914. Kelly's Hall becomes the fire hall.
natural geographic position is the most desirable for an industrial
site and a port. Level land in a "Sea of Mountains" is more valuable
than in any part of the Dominion. Considering there are 6000 acres of
level territory, with more than six miles of frontage on Pitt River,
the possibilities are unlimited. In her capacity as a Port, however,
Coquitlam will achieve her greatness. The CPR Co. has noted that by
1914-1919 - Shipbuilding - The War Years
Canada was at war and Port Coquitlam's main wartime industry was shipbuilding.
At its peak, it employed 500 carpenters, shipwrights and metal workers,
paying a total of almost $3,000.00 a day in wages! Six wooden vessels
were built, with hulls that were 300 feet long and powered by steam
1918 - Spanish Influenza
September 14 and 21: Port Coquitlam publishes, in Vancouver newspapers,
a seven-page listing of properties available for sale as a result of
nonpayment of taxes. Most of the tax arrears are astonishingly low,
many under $20, but people have no money.
A September 25 auction attracts fewer than a dozen people, and they
buy 83 lots of the 1,300 for sale. Total proceeds: $3,545.53. Value
of the land in city hands: $81,037.05. The Vancouver World newspaper
comments that even at the low prices - in some cases less than 10 per
cent of their 1913 boom prices - the lots could not now be sold
The deadly Spanish influenza epidemic, which will kill millions worldwide,
strikes Port Coquitlam. On October 5, military authorities commandeer
the Aggie Hall for an emergency hospital. 160 soldiers have the flu.
Later the vacant Terminal Hotel "on Busteed Avenue" is also used. The
first death from the flu (a Private Johns) occurs October 12. Schools,
theater's and bars are closed. The first civilian death, John Raymond,
happens October 26. Others follow.
- the Oldest Business
"Harry" Galer and two partners start Port Coquitlam Transfer Co. (The
company will be registered in 1921.) They truck coal and other things,
have a contract to truck coal to the boys' industrial school at Essondale.
The company, still in business today as PoCo Building Supply on Mary
Hill Road, is PoCo's oldest.
August 5, 1920: A fire that began in the fire chief's apartment in the
PoCo fire hall gets out of control and burns down the firehall. The
flames spread to the downtown district, then on to Dewdney Trunk Road
(now Kingsway) and much of Port Coquitlam's downtown is destroyed.
Among the people with claims against the city for losses because of
the fire is William Routley. "His settlement included the Minnekhada
Hotel, today the Wild Duck Inn."1921
October 28, 1921: Severe flooding in PoCo. The bridge across Dewdney
Trunk Road (now Kingsway) is washed out, and people's homes are inundated.
People are transported across the Coquitlam River on an aerial cable.
St. Catherine's (Anglican) Church floats away and is stranded on a sandbar.
The Myrtle Hotel, Sinclair's Jewelers and Jack Baumgartner's barbershop
are also swept away.
PoCo's 1921 population 1,178.
1923 - The first May Day
The Coquitlam-Moody News is publishing, run by J. J. Dougan, of the
Valley Publishing Co., Port Hammond.
The May Day tradition begins in Port Coquitlam.
1926 - Gregory Tire and Rubber
The Gregory Tire and Rubber Company is established. It will go into
receivership in 1933 and be purchased March 23, 1935 by Huntington Rubber
Mills of Canada.
1929 - Coquitlam Herald
J.C. Machesney establishes the Coquitlam Herald, in the midst of the
depression. By this time Pacific Stage Lines is running a bus between
Vancouver and Harrison Hot Springs that stops at PoCo en route.
- John Galer
John Galer starts working for his dad at Port Coquitlam Transfer. He's
still dropping in to check on the business, 60 years later.
- The Firechief
Port Coquitlam's population is 1,539, an increase of just 227 in ten
John Galer becomes chief of the PoCo Volunteer Fire Department, and
will hold that post for 20 years. The pay is $10 a month, plus $2 a
- Major Growth
Port Coquitlam begins to grow rapidly. The Lougheed Highway, completed
in 1951, brings new business and industry to the area and the population
doubles quickly. The majority of working people in PoCo are employed
by either the CPR or Essondale Hospital.
PoCo's 1951 population 3,232, an increase of 1,693 in ten years, more
However, with the accessibility from the Lougheed Highway and the reasonable
Real Estate prices, large scale Businesses were also becoming attracted
to the Port Coquitlam area.
- Pitt River Bridge opens
Premier W.A.C. Bennett visits Port Coquitlam to open the Pitt River
- Esco opens
Esco, manufacturers of mining equipment, establishes in PoCo. In 1999
the company is honored at Port Coquitlam city hall for its 40 years
1961 - Population boom
Port Coquitlam's population in 1961 is 8,111, an increase of 4,879 in
ten years. PoCo's population again has more than doubled in 10 years.
The Coquitlam River becomes log-choked and floods.
- History begins, "officially"
February 16 from the Vancouver Sun: "A committee has been appointed
by city council to compile Port Coquitlam's early history. Members:
Robert E. King and Mrs. King; Mr. and Mrs. J.E. Duncan; Mr. and Mrs.
- POCO Nature Trail
Port Coquitlam finally linked up with the Greater Vancouver Transit
System, giving easy & convenient access to Vancouver. Rapid residential,
industrial and commercial development led to more recreational and educational
A 22 mile nature trail, completely surrounding the city was built to
be used by hikers, joggers, cyclists and horseback riders. This scenic
nature walkway, now maintained by the city, truly provides memorable
pleasures to anyone who wishes to relax and enjoy the "outdoors".
- Population doubles
Port Coquitlam's population in 1971 is 19,560, an increase of 8,349
in five years and 11,449 in ten years. Again, within the space of ten
years, PoCo's population has doubled.
- And again!
PoCo's rapid growth continues. The 1976 population is 23,926, an increase
of 4,366 in five years, or roughly 22 percent.
1978 - The Azelea
Valerie Patenaude begins an archaeological dig at Baker Creek, near
the mouth of the Pitt River. The dig continues to 1981, and local school
children will participate at times. Thousands of artifacts from the
dig are now in the provincial museum. (This area was regularly occupied
by native groups for over 4,000 years.)
June: The azalea is declared Port Coquitlam's official flower.
- Terry Fox - "Hometown Hero"
In spite of his handicap, Terry Fox, began his "Marathon of Hope"! In
1977, at the age of 18 years, he had lost his right leg to cancer. Before
a fatal recurrence of cancer, he was able to complete 3,329 miles of
his intended "run" from one side of Canada to another. He managed to
raise over $23 million dollars for Cancer Research. Since his death,
the Terry Fox Run has been held annually as a tribute to his courage
- Death of a Hero
February 1: Terry Fox's dream of raising $1 from
every Canadian for cancer research is realized. The Terry Fox Marathon
of Hope donations reach $24.1 million.
June: Terry Fox dies. Since his death, the Terry Fox Run has been held
annually as a tribute to his courage and conviction.
Len Traboulay is elected mayor of Port Coquitlam
for the first time.
PoCo's 1981 population is 27,535, an increase of 3,609 in five years.
- The Present
PoCo's 1991 population is 36,773, an increase of 7,658 in five years.
Port Coquitlam prepares its Official Community Plan.
The Port Coquitlam Business Improvement Association is incorporated
as a Society.
March: PoCo receives approval for the construction of a new bridge under
the Canada/BC Infrastructure Works Program. It will be known as the
"Red Bridge," after the original.
PoCo's 1996 population is 46,682, an increase of 9,909 in five years.
The population has more than doubled between 1976 and 1996-a growth
rate of approximately 3.5% per year.
February: the regional courthouse opens.
Between 1986 and 1996, Port Coquitlam's housing stock grew from 9,340
to 15,890 units - an increase of more than five per cent per year.
November 12: a news release reports that PoCo's Red Bridge is completed.
The new four-lane bridge, named for the original, greatly improves traffic
With payment of one outstanding bill, Port Coquitlam becomes the largest
city in BC to be debt free.
From the April 24, 1996 Vancouver Sun: "In spite of fiscal restraint,
the city has embarked on a series of a major projects over the past
six years that have given it a host of new features.
They include a major expansion of city hall, a new firehall, works yard,
a bridge, improved parks and a popular aquatic centre, as well as environmental
protection for several sensitive areas around the city's perimeter.
By relying on internal funds, including revenue from taxes and sale
of lands, the city proved it could have its cake and eat it, too."
The Planning Department completes an overall plan for the downtown area.
PoCo's estimated 1997 population is 49,636, an increase of nearly 3,000
in one year.
Port Coquitlam is the fifth fastest growing city in all of Canada. The
city enjoys a small-town feeling with a strong sense of community. It
offers more than a striking downtown, with its nearby Coquitlam River.
The POCO Trail gives easy access to fishing, wading, swimming
or exploring. The new Shaughnessy Station Mall is a modern complex of
shops and services.