News Flash

City News

Posted on: May 25, 2021

Archives Exhibit Rekindles Stories of the Great Flood

Fraser Mills Great Flood 1948

COQUITLAM, B.C., May 25, 2021 – Learn more about one of the region’s most impactful natural disasters, The Great Flood of 1948, the latest online exhibit titled, Rising Waters, by the Coquitlam Archives. 

Coquitlam Archives’ latest exhibit details Coquitlam’s experience during the Fraser River spring flood that devastated parts of the Fraser Valley and caused weeks of chaos in the City’s low-lying areas, such as Fraser Mills and Colony Farm.

A Frightening Time in Local History

Posted at www.coquitlam.ca/risingwater, the exhibit showcases photographs that survived this frightening time in May and June of 1948, along with first-hand accounts that highlighted the community spirit that arose in response.

A timeline recounts the event’s milestones, beginning in late May when that year’s heavy snow, cool spring, record warm temperatures and heavy rainfall put the dike-bound Fraser Valley on high alert for possible flooding. The first dikes burst on May 26 and 28, setting the stage for a disaster that caused the evacuation of about one-third of the Fraser Valley’s population at the time, as well as the destruction of homes, businesses and fields.

Images preserved in the Archives show streets under eight feet of water and people using boats to access their homes. There is also a link to view archived CBC television footage taken at the height of the crisis.

Coquitlam’s experience is illuminated by the voices and photographs of locals who lived through it. Archived images and quotes from the book Coquitlam 100 Years: Reflections of the Past – linked to the exhibit in digital format – tell of how the community pulled together to protect the dikes and support the volunteers and those impacted. 

The exhibit ends by touching on modern-day flood mitigation efforts – a legacy of that natural disaster more than 70 years ago.

Explore Online Exhibits

The City of Coquitlam Archives website at www.coquitlam.ca/onlineexhibit features 15 online exhibits on a variety of topics. Archives staff produce a new exhibit each quarter, mining the Archives for insightful and sometimes quirky stories about Coquitlam’s past. Some exhibits also share information about new acquisitions and highlight upcoming events.

Each online exhibit marries engaging text with scans of documents, maps and photos to bring the subjects to life. Online visitors can while away a pleasant afternoon learning about the local business that was Canada’s first plywood producer, Coquitlam’s First World War soldiers, the City’s changing boundaries, early scrapbooking efforts, Coquitlam’s May Day tradition, Colony Farm’s Holstein herd, the Westwood racing circuit, the history of Coquitlam Centre, the story of psychiatric nursing at Essondale, and the art of archival processing and other topics.

About the City of Coquitlam Archives

The City of Coquitlam Archives serves a dual purpose: to preserve and to make accessible. Since the inception of the archives program, the Archives has been raising its profile to encourage people to use its services and discover the trove of records in the collection. Other outreach includes weekly #TBT posts on the City’s social media platforms and a small collection of historic photos at www.historypin.org.

For more information about the City of Coquitlam Archives and to view the online exhibits, visit www.coquitlam.ca/cityarchives.

Media contact:
Emily Lonie
City Archivist
City of Coquitlam
604-927-3907
elonie@coquitlam.ca

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