Port Coquitlam | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Port Coquitlam

Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, incorporated as a city in 1913, population 61,498 (2021 census), 58,612 (2016 census). The City of Port Coquitlam is located on the Pitt and Fraser rivers, 27 km east of Vancouver. It is bounded on the north and west by the City of Coquitlam. It is a member of the Metro Vancouver Regional District and part of the Tri-Cities with Coquitlam and Port Moody.

The name of Port Coquitlam is from a Halkomelem word meaning "small red salmon," after the abundant fish in the Coquitlam River. The city's early European settlement dates to 1853, when the McLean family established themselves along the Pitt River near the present bridge. In 1862, the Royal Engineers, under Colonel Richard Clement Moody, had the Pitt River Road built connecting the area to New Westminster.

Port Coquitlam owes its existence to the railway. The Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) ended at Port Moody to the west; an industrial area around the CPR's Pacific Coast Terminal became the city of Port Coquitlam. The First World War cut short the hope of extensive trade after the opening of the Panama Canal. Prior to and during the Second World War, most of the work force was employed in railways. After the war, metal, rubber and iron-casting industries, tungsten refining, boat building and nearby gravel operations were established. The population grew tenfold in 40 years from about 3,200 in 1951 to 36,800 in 1991 and strong growth has continued since then. Because of the rapid population increase, the city has become more residential in nature with new housing areas being developed and older areas redeveloped.

The city has encouraged industrial and commercial development in recent years. It now has a considerable manufacturing base with firms specializing in metal fabrication, high-tech industries and transportation. The railway still plays a significant role with CPR's Vancouver region marshalling yards located within the city. Surrounding the city is an active agricultural sector focusing on dairy, poultry and fruit farming.