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Here, there and everywhere: Coquitlam's history also lies outside its borders

Titled "Coquitlam in Other Archives," the online display takes a look at where to find information about former and current residents and homes.
Eric and Alden Hamber outside the stables at Minnekhada Ranch in Coquitlam.

Coquitlam’s historical records can be found at the city archives.

But past documents and photos about the people and growth of the municipality can also be sourced from other agencies across the country.

That’s the subject of Coquitlam Archives’ latest online exhibit that went live last week.

Titled Coquitlam in Other Archives, the display by city archivist Jamie Sanford takes a look at where students, researchers and history buffs can find information about former and current residents and homes, as well as activities and landmarks.

The show, which coincides with the Coquitlam Archives’ 10th anniversary, sheds light on the fonds about Coquitlam people and places relating to the:

  • Coquitlam Dam and Minnekhada Ranch (City of Vancouver)
  • First World War (Library and Archives Canada)
  • səmiq̓ʷəʔelə/Riverview Lands (BC Archives)

For the Vancouver collections, Sanford turns his attention to Major James Skitt Matthews: the city’s first archivist who held the position from 1933 to 1971.

During his tenure, Matthews compiled 114 m of textual records and more than 20,000 images, of which 100 photos are of the construction of the Coquitlam Dam from 1910–1912.

Vancouver also has the family fonds from Eric Hamber, B.C.’s 15th lieutenant governor from 1936–1941 who owned Minnekhada Ranch in Coquitlam from 1932–1958; Hamber and his wife, Aldyen, built Minnekhada Lodge as a country retreat and hunting getaway.

The City of Vancouver Archives has digitized 300 pictures of the Hambers at Minnekhada and their farming life.

Meanwhile, for researchers studying Coquitlam connections to the First World War, Library and Archives Canada has family and service records of Coquitlam soldiers, including documents about Alexander Windram whose postcards home were featured in a 2017 Coquitlam Archives exhibit; the Scottish-born resident who worked as a steamfitter at Fraser Mills was killed at the Battle of Vimy Ridge on April 9, 1917.

And for those tracking down patient, operational and administrative records about Essondale or Riverview Hospital (now known by its First Nations’ name of səmiq̓ʷəʔelə), Sanford points to the BC Archives collections for clues.

To browse, borrow or copy the Coquitlam Archives fonds in person at 1171 Pinetree Way (in the same building at the City Centre branch of the Coquitlam Public Library) or to donate records, call 604-927-3900 or email [email protected]. The online portal, Quest, can also be accessed 24/7.