The Riverview Hospital is a significant part of Coquitlam’s history. The mental health hospital was constructed on 1,000 acres of land within the unceded and ancestral territory of the kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwitlem) people. When it opened in 1913, it was known as the Essondale Branch of the Provincial Hospital for the Insane and consisted of a single asylum building with extensive grounds and a productive farm known as ƛ̓éxətəm (formerly Colony Farm). Over the years the hospital grew, eventually consisting of dozens of building and housing thousands of patients. In 1965, it was renamed the Riverview Hospital, which remained its name until it closed in 2012. In 2021, the Riverview lands were renamed səmiq̓wəʔelə, which translates to Place of the Great Blue Heron in hən̓q̓əmin̓əm.
When the hospital closed in 2012, the City became the custodians of a collection of artifacts collected by the Riverview Hospital Historical Society. This collection of artifacts is a valuable historical resource that documents a century of mental health services in Coquitlam.
In addition to the artifact collection, a collection of documents and photographs associated with the hospital are in the custody of the City of Coquitlam Archives.
Learn more about the fascinating history of the Riverview Hospital by reading Collecting Riverview: A visual history of photographs and objects (PDF). This publication from the City of Coquitlam tells the story of Riverview through a selection of artifacts, photographs and documents.
See a complete list of artifacts from the Riverview Hospital Artifact Collection in Riverview Hospital Artifact Collection: Catalogue of Artifacts (PDF). This catalogue of artifacts published by the City of Coquitlam highlights some of the significant objects in the collection and shares the history of how the collection was created.
The Riverview Hospital Artifact Collection was originally compiled by staff and former staff of the Riverview Hospital. A staff committee started collecting historical artifacts from the institution in the 1980s. The group was officially incorporated as the Riverview Hospital Historical Society in 1997. They collected equipment, furniture, objects and documents to preserve and share the story of the hospital, its staff and its patients.
Artifacts from the collection were transferred to the City of Coquitlam after the hospital closed in 2012. Many of the historical documents and photographs were transferred to the City of Coquitlam Archives. Documents determined to be the property of the Provincial government were transferred to the Royal BC Museum.
The City has photographed and documented the artifact collection and released two publications in 2022 to share the history of the hospital (PDF) and to present a complete list (PDF) of the Riverview Hospital Artifact Collection.
Work is currently underway to develop policies to enable the City to loan objects from the collection to museums and heritage organizations for exhibition, and to collect stories and information about the items in the collection to continue building the City’s knowledge about these significant historical artifacts. We invite people interested in sharing stories or borrowing artifacts for display to fill out the online form.