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Coquitlam Archives has 350K 'Tri-City News' images to digitize

In 2023, people from across Canada, the United States, South Africa, Germany, the United Kingdom and Australia visited Coquitlam Archives' online search portal.
f13236-bc-summer-games-swimming-relays-at-spani-mario-bartel-credit_edit
BC Summer Games swimming relays at Spani Pool in Coquitlam in 1991 (Coquitlam Archives: F13.236).

The digitization of some 1,000 images snapped by Tri-City News photographers over the publication’s past 40 years was the main push for the Coquitlam Archives’ staff last year.

In his annual report before the city’s committee on Monday, Feb. 12, archivist Jamie Sanford said his team has about 349,000 negatives to go to scan into the online system: Quest.

Sanford said the pictures, as well as the donated bound editions dating back to 1984, are being searched up and used by a variety of researchers, including high school students.

“They are a really good set of photographs because you can see the change in the city,” Mayor Richard Stewart said while acknowledging Coun. Craig Hodge for his role as chief photographer at the newspaper, which Glacier Media made digital-only last August.

Hodge said he’s pleased to see the photo digitization process starting, calling the assets “a gift” as the Tri-City News’ hard copy fonds are complete — from inception to the final printed edition.

“It’s absolutely fantastic to have that resource,” Hodge said, noting he set up the photo catalogue for the Tri-City News in the early 1990s knowing the local scenes and activities captured back then were relevant. 

“Today’s material is going to be tomorrow’s heritage," he said.

Some of the old photos are getting renewed life as the basis for the weekly "Headlines from the past" feature that revisits stories covered by the Tri-City News through its 40 years serving the community. It is published every Friday on the News' website.

According to Sanford’s report, the archives staff, which also includes Leah Rae and Kristin Simmons, helped Malcolm Fish, an intern from UBC’s School of Information, digitize the 35 mm negatives as well as about 1,000 other pictures and archival material from recent donations:

  • Enterprise newspaper fonds (550 images)
  • City of Coquitlam parks, recreation, culture and facilities (200 images)
  • City of Coquitlam engineering and public works (170 images)
  • City of Coquitlam council portraits
  • Dansey family fonds

Coquitlam Archives also launched a project last year with the South Asian Canadian Digital Archive, based in Abbotsford, to boost its holdings about South Asian pioneers; among its troves is an accident ledger from the Canadian Western Lumber Co. (aka Fraser Mills).

As for 2023 analytics, Coquitlam Archives handled 150 reference requests — in person and online — and the Quest search portal saw a 10 per cent uptick in online traffic over 2022, said Sanford, who last November was named the vice president of the Archives Association of BC.

People from across Canada, the United States, South Africa, Germany, the United Kingdom and Australia visited Quest and viewed at least 3.9 pages per session to research, Sanford told the committee.

Both Stewart and Hodge spoke about the need for current and past residents to dig through their attics and basements to donate to the Archives for public record and preservation.

Last year, Coquitlam Archives, which marked its 10th year, took in donations from:

  • Tri-City News (bounded print editions from 2019–2022)
  • Northeast Ratepayers Association (minutes and research materials)
  • Hoy–Scott Creek Watershed Society (minutes and data sheets)
  • Dansey family (photos including a Mundy Park picnic and Frank Dansey in his soldier’s uniform in 1911)
  • City of Coquitlam (cemetery records, annual reports, financial statements, strategic plans and corporate business plans)
  • Lyle Lizenberger (digital research materials from his upcoming book Burke and Widgeon: A History, Volume 2)

To donate photographs, letters, maps and other records to the Coquitlam Archives, you can call 604-924-3900 or email archives@coquitlam.ca.