Port Coquitlam – Where the Rails meet the Rivers
The City of Port Coquitlam has a vivid and interesting history. Prior to the year 1913, there were actually two Coquitlams, a rural municipality of 64 square miles and a new industrial area within the municipality. It was the industrial area surrounding the C.P.R. Pacific Coast Terminal that was incorporated on March 7, 1913 with the inauguration of Mayor James Mars., J.P.
Port Coquitlam is bounded on the south by the Fraser River, on the east by the Pitt River, west by the Coquitlam River and by the Coast Mountains to the north. The City’s geographical location was one of the main factors leading to its incorporation. Its access to the Pitt and Fraser Rivers, proximity to Vancouver and the availability of level land for workshops and yards attracted the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, which moved its freight operations to the site of Port Coquitlam from Vancouver in 1911.
Promoters and speculators during the 1911 “Panama Fever” era visualized a great Port because the area bordered the banks of the Fraser River. Port Coquitlam never grew as quickly as they imagined it would, but because of its natural beauty and charm attracted many residents and businesses.
Before the arrival of the early white settlers around the 1860’s, the area now known as Port Coquitlam was a First Nations village at the mouth of the Coquitlam River. Coquitlam is an aboriginal word meaning “salmon”, and the Coquitlam River was famous for its hordes of the Pacific Coast fish.
The end of World War II was the beginning of changes in the City of Port Coquitlam. Prior to and during the Second World War, the bulk of the population was engaged in railway work or was employed by the Essondale Provincial Mental Hospital located southwest of the City. Evans, Coleman and Evans also provided employment in two quarry pits which were in operation.