As part of their Culture Days celebrations Mackin House & Fraser Mills Station will be offering a walking tour of historic Maillardville in Coquitlam on Oct. 1. Maillardville was settled by French- Canadians in the early 1900s.
“Coquitlam Heritage offers these walking tours so that members of the community can find out more about the history of their city,” says Stefani Klaric, program manager of Coquitlam Heritage at Mackin House. “We want to promote the past and honour it in an effort to help preserve it and encourage others to want to have it preserved as well”.
The tours are free and open to everyone.
“The French Canadians settled in the area in 1909 and 1910,” says Klaric. “They were employed at Fraser Mills and worked for the Canadian Western Lumber Company.”
“There were a lot of racial tensions taking place at the mill and throughout Canada at the time, and so they wanted to recruit more white workers as most of the workers at that time were South Asian and Asian,” says Klaric.
Workers in Quebec and Ontario were recruited, offered good wages and encouraged to bring their families to settle in the area.
“The men they were recruiting were offered good wages, ¼ acre of land at $150 to be payed back at $5 per week,” says Klaric. “They were encouraged to bring their families and settle in the area. They were even given the lumber to build their homes and were given land and lumber to build their Catholic church.”
Around 250 francophones arrived on September 27, 1909, 110 of them workmen, says Klaric, with another contingent joining the first one a year later in 1910.
Walking the neighbourhood
“We start [the walking tour] in Heritage Square, just outside of Mackin House, and relay the history of the Mill and the francophone settlers who arrived in 1909 and in 1910,” says Klaric. “We then head across the street to the site of the former City Hall that was built in 1920. It was torn down in the 1990s and City Hall is now on Guildford Way in Coquitlam.”
The tour continues along Brunette Avenue where pictures of what the street used to look like are shown.
“We [then] walk up Begin Street, then down Cartier Ave towards Laval Square where there is the Notre Dames de Lourdes Church. The walk focuses on certain homes along the way and we share information on some of the inhabitants,” says Klaric.
The talk includes information on the business owners along with anecdotal stories of the time.
“There is a story that the Pett family, who owned the Meat Market in Coquitlam, were one of the first known people in Coquitlam to get a neon sign. The story goes that when they turned the sign on, the neighbours became flustered, thought it was on fire and called for the fire brigade,” says Klaric.
The Maillardville Walking tour has been a part of the Coquitlam Heritage program for many years and is part of their school and educational program components. A self-help walking tour map that includes 17 historic houses throughout Maillardville is also available if visitors prefer to explore on their own.
For more information,please visit www.coquitlamheritage.ca