Coquitlam

Like Burnaby, Coquitlam is a suburb of Vancouver. In fact, going East from Vancouver’s city limits, you immediately enter Burnaby and next comes Coquitlam.

The year (August 1961 to June 1962) we spent in Coquitlam was very eventful. The only negative was the reason that we came back to the house we had left behind in East Burnaby: the buyer defaulted on the mortgage. I was nine years old, so I was not really aware of the grief that caused my parents, whose lawyer had advised them to hold the mortgage.

Both my parents and maternal grandparents planned to move into a new area of Coquitlam known as Harbour Chines. My parents made the move first, to a house they rented at 1124 Bartlett Avenue, between Lillian Street and Gatensbury. The owners would be away for a year, so my parents had a year to find or build a new house just to the East, in Harbour Chines. It was newer than our Burnaby house, had three bedrooms, and a Deck over the Carport.

Unfortunately, the new owners of our house in East Burnaby stopping paying their mortgage after a couple of months and we moved back, with a lot of work to do to fix the damage they had done.

During the nine and a half months we were in Coquitlam, a lot happened. In about January, after selling their house to a Developer of a new Hotel in New Westminster, my grandparents moved into a former Show Home at 935 Poirier Street, a few doors North of Harbour Drive. It was a wonderful feeling to be able to bicycle from home to my grandparents.

I also bicycled every day to the brand new Porter Street School. So new, in fact, that it was not finished for the beginning of the school year, which meant Shifts, where another student had my desk the other half of the day. I actually got along better with the Principal than my own teacher, who I also liked, especially since she would occasionally let our class practice their Twist as she played the piano.

My parents bought me a new bicycle to replace the used one I had had for the previous two years. Most likely wanting me to have a three speed model to help climb the long hill that Lillian Street is on the way to school each morning.

My best friend at school was Randy Raine-Reusch, now a World Music master. When I first met him, he was already listening to CFUN, but it took me until February, on a Friday afternoon when I was home from school with a Cold and my Mother turned on the Radio as I relaxed in the Family Room, recovering, and she suggested that I might find it interesting. Dave McCormick was counting down the C-FUNtastic 50, the top 50 songs of the week, and I was instantly hooked.

As I had in East Burnaby, I was still a Cub Scout, but was quickly transferred to a new Cub Pack, as one of only four Cubs selected to lead the huge number of boys who just joined and needed to qualify for the Cub uniform.

That winter in Coquitlam was the only time in my life that I was ever able to ice skate in the outdoors. Como Lake froze solid that winter and was a popular place to skate. It was fun as I had learned to skate enough to get by thanks to a friend of my mother’s who would later adopt a child who became a champion figure skater.

As for my paternal grandparents, they lived in Richmond where my grandfather built four large greenhouses and grew carnations. Despite the relatively short distance between Coquitlam and Richmond, it was a long distance telephone call at the time. My father would often use a pay phone near where he worked in New Westminster to phone his mother and avoid the long distance charges.

Perhaps the oddest thing since leaving Coquitlam is the fact that I have only seen or met my teacher, and my best male and female friends exactly once since then:

  • 2 years later: Linda Jane when I saw her walking along Como Lake Road with her father as my father and I drove by on the way to visit my grandparents;
  • 3 years later: my teacher when she happened to be visiting across the street from my grandparents;
  • 4 years later: Randy when I saw an article in the newspaper about his basement hippie pad and visited him by bicycling from my grandparents.