In 1965, Leonore Peyton approached the Parks and Recreation Department to assist her in organizing a “First Nighters” program for children throughout School District #43.
The “First Nighters” provided an opportunity for a small busload of school children to visit plays or the symphony in Vancouver.
Mrs. Peyton’s contagious enthusiasm for this children’s program quickly saw the single bus leaving Coquitlam for the arts in Vancouver turn into a veritable fleet of buses leaving Coquitlam on Friday nights carrying children and volunteer supervisors and, of course, Mrs. Peyton.
In the 70’s, while still carrying on her ever-growing “First Nighters” program, Mrs. Peyton learned that the old RCMP building in Maillardville would become vacant once the Detachment moved to its new headquarters on Christmas Way. So, with the assistance of Mr. Fern Bouvier, then President of the Coquitlam Fine Arts Council, Mrs. Peyton approached the Municipal Council and, on May 15, 1972, Council authorized the Coquitlam fine Arts Council to have both the old RCMP building and the court facilities for use as a Fine Arts Centre. Thus, on December 1st, 1972, the then Premier Dave Barrett officially opened the Place des Arts and Mrs. Peyton started to enrol pupils in courses ranging from painting to pottery, embroidery to weaving, Orff to orchestra.
Over the 17 years that Mrs. Peyton served as the Administrator of the Place des Arts – always on a shoe-string budget – the facility became an outward and visible symbol of Mrs. Peyton’s contagious devotion to the development of the arts in Coquitlam. This fact was formally recognized by the Chamber of Commerce when it awarded her the coveted “Citizen of the Year” Award.
Over the past 2 ½ decades, the name Leonore Peyton has become synonymous with the Arts in Coquitlam.