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Why are historical photos popping up around town in Port Coquitlam?

Did you participate in PoCo May Day as a kid? To mark Heritage week, PoCo Heritage is sharing its collection of historical May Day photos.

Port Coquitlam residents will be able to walk down memory lane next week during Heritage Week, Feb. 20–26.

That's when PoCo Heritage will put on display its collection of historical May Day photos dating back 100 years when the festival started.

May Day celebrations in the Lower Mainland began in New Westminster in 1870 and then in Port Coquitlam in 1923. The tradition continues in both New West and PoCo to this day.

However, Port Coquitlam had an "unofficial" May Day back as early as 1916, with photos showing festivities at the original James Park School.

The 1923 May Day was organized by the Women's Institute, according to PoCo Heritage, and the institute’s president, Christine (Mars) Routley, became known as Port Coquitlam’s “Mother of May Day.”

There have been maypole dancing and parades celebrating spring going back many years, as the collection of historical photos shows. These photos will be widely available to the public, starting next week.

With help from an $18,451 grant from Library and Archives Canada's Documentary Heritage Communities Program, PoCo Heritage staff and volunteers have been hard at work over the past year digitizing, describing and rehousing hundreds of May Day photographs, videos and other documents.

Select photos will soon be featured on their social media each day of Heritage Week.

The photos will be displayed around town as well.

Thanks to the cooperation between the City of Port Coquitlam and Downtown Port Coquitlam Business Improvement Association, memories of this important civic celebration will be on display in several PoCo locations: Street banners, fencing at veterans park, and exhibitions running April 26–June 23 in city hall and the Port Coquitlam Community Centre.  

View digital photos online

The digitized photos are also accessible along with many other memories of Port Coquitlam on PoCo Heritage's online database accessible through their website.

As well, members of PoCo Heritage will be receiving a digital copy of a commemorative photo book featuring photos and other documents from the archive.

Anyone with photos or video of May Day who would like to donate to the archives can get in touch with PoCo Heritage via email to Alex Code, museum manager, at [email protected].