Jun 11, 2018 Return to Headlines

Planning for Riverview Artifacts Moves Forward

by Kevin Henkelman |

COQUITLAM, BC, June 11, 2018 – Coquitlam will be considering how best to share and preserve thousands of Riverview Hospital artifacts, following an extensive assessment and cataloguing project that wrapped up this spring.

Medical equipment, furnishings, clothing, and personal belongings are among the 2,500 items in the collection, which documents B.C.’s history of mental health care and Riverview Hospital’s 100-year history. It is considered to be one of western Canada’s best collections of historical medical equipment.

The City took ownership of the artifacts from the Riverview Hospital Historical Society and Provincial Health Services Authority in 2012, and they remained in storage until a detailed assessment, inventory and cataloguing project began in June 2017.

Museum collection specialists Shared Solutions spent about nine months sorting, cleaning, documenting and researching the items – a key step in the City’s long-term plan to manage, protect and eventually share the Riverview artifacts.

Featuring many one-of-a-kind items, the collection is considered unique because of its scale, quality and comprehensiveness. Pieces like monogrammed china and linens reveal the pride when Riverview opened in 1913, while equipment such as hydrotherapy and electroconvulsive shock therapy machines recall the evolution of treatment.

Other items tell of the day-to-day operations and life at Riverview, such as staff uniforms, furniture, a printing press, directional signs and a beauty parlour hair dryer. Among the most treasured pieces are three suitcases filled with patient belongings.

The next steps for the collection will be considered during the 2019 budget process later this year, including an ongoing physical care and maintenance plan for the stored items, a management plan for the collection and catalogued data, and policies and procedures for the type and level of access the City will provide to it.

The first step is expected to be a visioning session with Council and key stakeholders to define the long-term goals for the collection and its public presentation.

For now, the items are safely stored while decisions are made about their future.

More information will be shared as the City proceeds with the visioning session and decisions about the collection.

Media contact:

Karen Basi
Cultural Services Manager