The City of Coquitlam Archives is the home for a variety of City records, including Bylaws and Council Meeting Minutes, but did you know that the archives also houses records of people and organizations from the local community? Canadian Municipal Archives are unique when compared to archives in other countries, in that they will acquire and house community records alongside municipal government records. This is known as the Total Archives concept which was developed by Canadian archival community in the 1980s, as a strategy to document all aspects of Canadian society.
Community records help to tell the story of a city through the people that lived and worked there over the years. These can be the records of families, individuals or community organizations and businesses. The scope of these types of collections can vary from many boxes, to just a few photos. Records created by the City of Coquitlam inform us about how the city was governed and provide evidence of the City’s decisions. However, City records don’t necessarily tell us much about the lives of individual citizens. Community records can provide those different perspectives.
So why are community records important? Historically, archival institutions have been a record of those who held a position of power or who are recognized as an expert in their field: think government officials, successful literary figures, etc. However, that excludes many people from the historic record, including working class people, as well as members of other marginalized groups. Preserving community records is an important way of honouring the people who helped build and maintain the local community.
Here at the City of Coquitlam Archives, a large portion of our collection is comprised of community records, and they continue to stream into the archives. Here are some examples of recent additions that have been processed in the last year:
The Shyla Seller Collection
Shyla Seller is an archivist, writer, editor and musician who lives and works in Vancouver. She grew up in Coquitlam, attended Parkland Elementary School, Como Lake Middle School and Centennial Secondary.
In the 1980s Shyla’s grandparents, Bill and Nina Seller, owned a chain of Hol ‘n’ One Donut Houses across the Lower Mainland, including one at the Lougheed Mall, where Shyla worked as a teenager.
Shyla Seller at the Hol ‘n’ One Donut shop at the Lougheed Mall, C20-S04-F02
When she wasn’t working in a donut shop, Shyla participated in many extra-curricular activities, including music competitions and the Olympics of the Mind. The Olympics of the Mind was an international problem-solving competition for students. In 1986, Shyla and the team from Parkland Elementary travelled to Phoenix, Arizona to complete in the annual event.
Olympics of the Mind team at competition in Arizona, C20-S03-F03
Young people gathered from all over the country, and celebrated by exchanging pins from their home state and adorning their baseball caps with it. Shyla’s records provide glimpses of what life was like growing up in Coquitlam in the 1980s.
Hat from the Olympics of the Mid competition, C20-S03.02
Tim Kernighan fonds
Another group of records that reflect a life lived in the community can be found in the Tim Kernighan fonds.
Tim Kernighan was a well-known community figure in Coquitlam. Tim Kernighan grew up, lived and worked in Coquitlam. He attended Lord Baden-Powell Elementary School, Como Lake Middle School and Centennial High School. Tim graduated from Centennial High School in 1973 and attended Douglas College. He served as a Firefighter in Coquitlam for 25 years throughout the 1980s and 1990s. He worked as both a Firefighter and later as a Fire Prevention Inspector. The archives holds various records that document his life including, training certificates as well as photographs from his career as a Firefighter.
Firefighters attending to a house fire, F48.001
Tim Kernighan teaching at the McDonald’s Fire Safety House, F48.017
Champagne Family fonds
An important part of Coquitlam’s history is the history of the French Canadian community, who have traditionally resided in Maillardville.
One such family was the Champagne family. Cecile and Roger Champagne, and their children Doris, Audrey and Gary lived in Maillardville, participating in many community events. They attended Our Lady Fatima church, where the children were baptized. The children sang in the Chante Clair Choir and attended Brownie events. The adults spent their leisure time coaching Little League and hockey, as well as bowling.
831 Quadling Street, F49.048
Maillardville Lanes Mixed League, F49.038
The Champagne family fonds consists of paper (Textual) records as well as many photographs, including class photos, Little League photos and minor hockey league photos from the 1970s. The records provide valuable insight into family life in Maillardville, a unique French Canadian community, in Western Canada, in the 1970s.
Want to Make a Donation?
Community records are an important part of any municipal archives. Records such as these give us a window into the lives of local people, and paint a picture of what it was like to live in Coquitlam in the 20th and 21st centuries.
Do you have records that you would like to donate? The City of Coquitlam Archives is always on the lookout for new donations from individual citizens, as well as community organizations and non-profits, as well as local businesses. We accept paper records as well as photographs, maps, plans and much more. Keep in mind, the archives does not accept three-dimensional items such as clothing, enamel pins, trophies or other objects.
If you would like to take a look at descriptions of some of the other collections, you can take a look at our collection on Quest. If you would like to view anything in person or have questions about making a donation contact us by email or call 604-924-3900.