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.
Collecting Riverview: A visual history of photographs and objects
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 Many of the historical documents and photographs were transferred to the City of Coquitlam Archives.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.
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.
The City of Coquitlam Archives is actively collecting photographs, documents, and other records related to the hospital. Visit the City of Coquitlam Archives page or call the Archives staff at 604-927-3900 for information on collecting policies and how to make a donation.
The City of Coquitlam is not currently accepting new donations of material for the Riverview Hospital Artifact Collection. However, we are currently documenting offers to share information about artifacts in the collection for follow up in the future. If you have information or a story to share about an item that is part of the Riverview Hospital Artifact Collection, please complete the online form.
Coquitlam Heritage collects artifacts associated with the Riverview Hospital and other aspects of Coquitlam’s heritage. For information on their collecting policies and how to make a donation, visit the Coquitlam Heritage site or call the Society at 604-516-6151.
The City of Coquitlam is not currently processing loans of the artifacts in the Riverview Hospital Artifact Collection. We are currently collecting names and contact information for organizations interested in a loan for exhibition purposes for follow up in the future. If you are interested in organizing a future loan, please complete the online form.