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their wages by farming are the Walton and Johnson families, who were the first homesteaders in east Coquitlam, near the present Eagle Ridge subdivision. Walton Avenue and Johnson Street are named after them. Alice Johnson Lefebvre, born in 1910, vividly describes how the homestead was built.30 “Every winter, when the men had no work, they went by horse and wagon from Sunnyside, Port Moody, where the family was living, to clear the land and build the home.” They hauled logs to a mill, where the mill owner cut them into lumber for Alice’s father, Fred, taking payment in the form of some logs for himself. When the family moved into their new home, “Mountain View Ranch”, Fred worked for the C.P.R. near the Pitt River Bridge. He walked between his home and the C.P.R. work site every day. Fred’s brother, Tom, planted strawberries, vegetables, and fruit trees. The family traded vegetables and fruit for groceries in Port Moody. Dead fish from a creek were used to fertilize the garden. The farm had one horse, one cow, three pigs, and chickens; a smoke house; and a root house. Cream, milk, and butter were kept cool in a big hole in the ground. The family carried water in pails from a spring and used an outhouse for a toilet. The Pickton family, another example of early

small-scale farmers, built their home on land near present-day Riverview Hospital. Like many settlers, Mr. Pickton emigrated from Britain and lived initially in Winnipeg and later moved west. His move to the Lower Mainland of British Columbia involved a four year separation from his family. Pickton bought his ten acre homestead in 1904 and planned his family’s move west, meanwhile working for the C.P.R. His daughter, Lillian Pickton Emerton, was born in Royal Columbian Hospital in 1904. Her memories show that these first settlers worked hard and got by with little cash, yet still shared many happy times.31 Lillian’s mother made most of the family’s clothes from flour and sugar sacks. “My mother would bleach the sacks all lovely and white, and all the print was on the bottom of your pants, if you were lucky, or it was all bleached out.”32 There was the occasional nocturnal encounter with bears outside the back door. On Fridays, the family would load pigs and chickens in a horse-drawn wagon for sale in New Westminster, where they also bought their groceries. And the children eagerly awaited Christmas: “Christmas was always so long in coming. Everyone sang songs. We did not have a piano, but my dad used to have an accordion, and then we had one of those old record players with the

1886 to 1914

“Count A. used to ride around on a horse, and he expected the people who worked there to tip their hats to him. It didn’t go down very well.” big horn on it, and the records. We played records at Christmas until we were blue in the face, and sang along.”33 Lillian went to Millside School, walking there and back every day. But by the time she was in fourth or fifth grade, her younger siblings were going to a “tiny” school at Essondale. In the summer the children went bare foot every day, only putting on shoes again when school started in September. Greenhouses, or nurseries, also started up in Coquitlam during the first two decades of the twentieth century. They were located on Rochester, Cottonwood, and Como Lake Avenue.34 Cucumbers and tomatoes were the most important vegetables, but flowers and bedding plants were also grown. The produce and flowers were sold mostly in New Westminster and Vancouver, although chrysanthemums and other flowers were shipped as far east as Saskatchewan. Some of the families involved were the Whitings, Pollards, and Gatensburys. Ernest Gatensbury is an especially colourful example of these greenhouse growers. Born in England and apprenticed as a greenhouse man, he emigrated to Canada via the United States. In Canada he temporarily abandoned his horticultural training, trying his hand at


Hoc historybook030311 blk  
Hoc historybook030311 blk