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'Historic' names for Port Coquitlam's biggest affordable housing project

The new 300-unit rental apartment complex will be named Westminster Junction, recalling Port Coquitlam's early days as a stop on the CP Rail line.

A 300-unit affordable housing project is expected to soon rise in Port Coquitlam — bringing hundreds of new residents to the city's original downtown.

If a development permit is approved, the new building operated by the Affordable Housing Societies will remind people of PoCo's early days.

That's because the complex and its three buildings will be named after notable pioneers or buildings.

The project is being built at Kingsway and Gately avenues and Ticehurst Lane — not far from a former Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) station and several shops and businesses that were established to serve residents and rail travellers.

The site was part of Port Coquitlam’s historic townsite known as Westminster Junction.

In recognition of the site’s history, and in consultation with the Port Coquitlam Heritage and Cultural Society, the applicants have proposed naming the housing complex Westminster Junction and each of the buildings are to be named in recognition of historic figures and buildings associated with the townsite.

Here's what we know of these names:

The Myrtle was a busy hotel

The Myrtle Hotel was built in the early 20th century (circa 1910) and was situated by the west bank of the Coquitlam River.

Rooms were offered by the day or week at the three-storey hotel to travellers arriving from the CP passenger trains at the nearby station.

The proprietors of the Myrtle were the Pappadakis family, whose written recollections of early life in Port Coquitlam is documented in the city's archives.

Swept down the river in a flood

The Myrtle Hotel, along with Sinclair’s Jewellers and Baumgartner’s Barber Shop were swept down the Coquitlam River in October 1921 due to flooding in the area.

Residents of the hotel were awakened to fish "swimming under their beds," as the entire building sailed down the river like an ark.

The CP Railway constructed a branch line in 1886 that diverged from the mainline just west of the Coquitlam River down to the city of New Westminster.

The Roland named for a station agent

Later, a railway station was constructed in 1894 at the site just across the street from the Kingsway affordable housing development.

Jacob Rowland was appointed the first CP Rail Station Agent, and held that position until his retirement in 1932.

Rowland also built a formidable structure on the present day Kingsway site in 1910 named "the Rowland Block." 

The building housed the city’s post office, in which Mr. Rowland was postmaster for 25 years.

Meanwhile, a third building will be named for a popular café.

Oral "Pop" Ticehurst purchased the original Good Eats Cafe, located on the south side of Dewdney Trunk Road from Charles Orford in 1941, and soon after World War II constructed a new cafe across the street next to the CPR station in 1947, naming it "Pop's Cafe."

The Ticehurst recalls a popular PoCo café 

When Oral passed away in 1952, his wife Myra and family ran the cafe until 1967.

Many old time residents fondly recall when Pop’s Cafe was a favourite destination for both young and old, when Port Coquitlam was still a small town.

The new development will provide 300 apartment dwellings and a childcare facility built over a common one-level parkade.

The complex consists of three six-storey buildings clustered around a grade level interior parking court. 

In the development permit application, the applicant promises to include sound dampening materials on units fronting Kingsway Avenue as well as make road improvements and clean up the area close to the Coquitlam River for a walking trail and to protect fish.

Port Coquitlam councillors are expected to deal with the proposal at their council-in-committee meeting, which begins at 3:30 p.m. in council chambers on Tuesday (Sept. 20).