It’s the stories of where we come from that helped shape who we are today. As we celebrate BC Museums Week May 17-23 and International Museum Day on Tuesday, May 18, it’s a perfect time to reflect on times past and how historical events have influenced our community.
Here in Coquitlam, a huge part of that story is told by the Coquitlam Heritage Society. This not-for-profit preserves and promotes Coquitlam’s heritage through outreach in the form of events, workshops and community exhibits.
Here are 10 things you might not know about Coquitlam Heritage Society.
They Operate Mackin House Museum
The Society operates Mackin House, which is a beautifully restored home from the Edwardian era. It was built in 1909 for the General Sales Manager of Fraser Mills. The first occupant was Henry James Mackin, hence the name. Staff offer tours of the house as well as of their annual house exhibit, which is up from September to June each year. Currently only the main floor is open to visitors, but they are hoping in the future to allow visitors to tour the second floor again. You can tour the museum Tuesday to Saturday and entry is by donation.
They Have a Fantastic Collection
At Mackin House, they have more than 15,000 items in their collection, from Edwardian-era items to others that are significant to Coquitlam, including the original City Hall sign. They also have an impressive collection of vintage toys, including a few very large and detailed doll houses!
They Host Coquitlam’s Visitor Centre
Staff operate Coquitlam’s Visitor Centre, located in the train station across from Mackin House. There, you can pick up brochures and information to help you plan your staycation. The train station originally welcomed French-Canadian settlers to what later became Maillardville. You can tour the station, caboose and the beautiful gardens surrounding Mackin House. The train station is open from Friday-Monday from the beginning of July to Labour Day weekend, though if you need visitor information any other time, you can just head into Mackin House for help.
View their Exhibits
The Society puts together about eight exhibits a year that you can see around Coquitlam. The largest is their house exhibit, but they also have month-long exhibits at both branches of the Coquitlam Public Library, two a year at the Coquitlam Sports Hall of Fame, and every spring they curate an art exhibit at Place des Arts. Visit their website to see where to find the exhibits they currently have on display throughout Coquitlam . In 2020 they started creating online exhibits , the latest of which is We’ve Been Here All Along: Uncovering BC’s Black History .
Check out their Maillardville Walking Tour
Do you need a COVID-friendly activity to get your family out of the house? Pick up or download their Maillardville walking tour brochure. Their walking tour takes you to interesting historic locations all around Maillardville. You can also book a group guided tour from one of their staff. For a shorter, but just as informative walk, you can visit all 14 of the interpretive signs they have around Mackin House.
They Collect Stories
The Society is recording stories from Coquitlam residents of all ages and backgrounds to become part of its permanent collection for use in future research and exhibits. Even if someone has great information to share but doesn’t speak English or French, they will collect the story in their first language and find a translator to help translate and transcribe the history.
They Offer Online Resources
Need some more information about the history of Coquitlam? Looking for a fun historical activity to do at home? They have lots of resources on their website. Check out their blogs, where they have additional historical information as well as recipes and activities. You can also download the PDF of their We’ve Been Here All Along workbook.
Take Part in a Workshop or Event
When they are able to host workshops at Mackin House, many of them focus on revitalizing lost domestics arts. In the past, the Coquitlam Heritage Society has offered cheese making, quilting bees, mooncake making, and soap making, among many others. They offer workshops and events for a variety of ages, as well as both paid and by donation, so there is something for everyone.
They Organize Cultural Events
The non-profit is always striving to offer more events that are inclusive and diverse to best reflect those who call Coquitlam home. In the past they have celebrated Mid-Autumn, Lunar New Year, Diwali, and Black History Month, and they look forward to hosting more community events when we are again able to gather.
Take a Virtual Tours
Five virtual tours are currently available. Each is held through Zoom and presented by a staff member who can also answer any questions. They cater to classrooms, Girl Guide groups and any other group who wants to book a tour. All of their tours are available in English and French.