YOUR HISTORY: Minnekhada & Maillardville: 2 sides of Coquitlam history

One hundred years ago, the Minnekhada farm got its name. "Minnekhada" was derived from the Sioux Indian language and interprets as "rattling water" - "mini" means water and "kahada" means to rattle.

The farm's owner in 1912, Harry Leroy Jenkins, was a widower and wealthy lumberman from Minnesota. He initially purchased only 160 acres but almost immediately expanded his holdings tenfold to 1,600 acres with the hope of creating a lasting benefit for his three children.

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On today's map, the Jenkins farm area falls between Cedar and Quarry roads, the De Boville Slough, Addington Point Marsh and the Pitt River. This land, which had been a farm for 17 years before it was named Minnekhada, was the start of what ultimately evolved to become our beloved Minnekhada Regional Park, which today comprises 642 acres.

From the robust working farm it was in 1912, the beautiful property evolved to become a retreat for the wealthy, the well-positioned and those inclined to play.

By 1934, it was on its way to becoming a polo club, a stable and a nicely appointed hunting lodge. Construction was underway in '34 that created a magnificent venue for elegant dinner parties where fine wine was served and guests were assured of first-class entertainment and food.

Minnekhada served as the home for two of B.C.'s lieutenant governors: Eric Hamber and Clarence Wallace. It was also host to royalty - King George VI's visit with Queen Elizabeth in 1939 caused quite a stir in the community.

In contrast, the west end of Coquitlam - Fraser Mills and what is now known as Maillardville - was developing as a solid working community anchored to the mill on the Fraser River and nurturing its language and religion from Quebec roots.

A wide range of ethnicities originally populated the mill town and surrounding area until the arrival of the first train of skilled workers from Quebec in 1909. These workers were recruited for their work ethic, skills and in response to a then prevalent anti-Asian sentiment.

The workers and families who were brought from Quebec to this part of Coquitlam stayed. They worked, they raised their families and they represent a unique and distinct part of the fabric of our current community.

Minnekhada Regional Park, on the other hand, is a less settled part of our heritage. It is generally known for the beauty of its park and farm, and is home to 150 species of birds as well as beaver, deer, bears, muskrats, singing bullfrogs, flying squirrels and singular bats. It also boasts a unique collection of farm buildings and the magnificent Minnekhada Lodge.

The Lodge was acquired by the GVRD (now Metro Vancouver) in 1987 and the park was acquired in 1995. Dawn Hanna of the Vancouver Sun wrote in 1994: "Think of Minnekhada as 175 hectares of heaven in the midst of suburban hell." A somewhat more measured Sun reporter John Mackie wrote in 1998, "Day trippers can find tranquillity and a chance to observe nature just 30 minutes from Vancouver."

COQUITLAM HISTORY UP CLOSE

Coquitlam's history is fascinating in its diversity. To view, first hand, some of this history, visit Minnekhada Lodge on Saturday, Aug. 11 (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and Sunday, Aug. 12 (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.), for the Minnekhada Park Association's fourth annual Minnekhada Art in the Park and then come out for the Coquitlam Heritage Society's fourth annual open house with Les Fêtes Maillardville on Sept. 15 from noon to 4 p.m. at Mackin House Museum (details at 604-516-6151).

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