Harold also comments on the multicultural makeup of the work force. He recalls that everyone worked together and there were no racial antagonisms. The “Oriental” town site,
as it was then called, which had a fence around it, was outside the mill property. Chinese, Japanese, and South Asian mill workers lived there. To some extent, different ethnic groups worked at different occupations or in different parts of the mill.24
Maillardville and French Canadian Settlement On September 28, 1909, a group of 110 French Canadians from the lumber industry in Quebec arrived by railway to work at Fraser Mills, and more would arrive the next year. The mill owner provided land and building materials so that “les Canadiens”, as they were called in French, could build homes for themselves in the area north of Fraser Mills. The village they established became known as Maillardville, after Father Edmond Maillard, a young priest from France who became a respected leader in the community.25 Their presence made a huge impact on the history of Coquitlam.
Coquitlam, Circa 1885
The Canadian Western Lumber Company imported these French Canadian workers for several reasons. They had experience in the Eastern Canadian lumber industry. They were seen as a stable work force because many of the men were married with
children. According to the contemporary stereotype, French Canadian lumber workers were unlikely to cause labour “trouble” for their employers. Finally, racial prejudice against Asian workers in British Columbia was particularly acute during these years, so the white French Canadians may have been considered a more acceptable solution to the employer’s labour needs.26
1886 to 1914
One big fire destroyed a house occupied by Japanese workers.
Logging Industry Small logging operators in Coquitlam sold logs to Fraser Mills and other sawmills in Port Moody. Some of them also set up portable mills at the logging site to cut their logs into lumber.27 For example, Tom Allard’s lumber mill operated on the present site of Ranch Park Elementary School. Farming and Rural Life Some of the earliest European settlers in the Coquitlam area came to farm.28 Many Coquitlam families in this period farmed either full or part-time, sometimes selling their agricultural products and sometimes consuming the produce themselves. Many of these farms were clustered around Westminster Junction (now Port Coquitlam), but there were others scattered throughout the District of Coquitlam. Local farmers took their produce to market in New Westminster or Vancouver, travelling on either the Pitt River Road or on a regular boat service from the mouth of Pitt River. The Coquitlam Agricultural Society was formed in 1903.29 A good example of how settlers supplemented 39