Place des Arts and the Coquitlam Heritage Society have been close-knit organizations for quite some time. We have a long history as local community partners, often working together with events, exhibitions and out in the community. But why? And how?
We spoke with Candrina Bailey, the Executive Director of Coquitlam Heritage to discuss our deep ties and their upcoming exhibition at Place des Arts.
WHAT IS THE COQUITLAM HERITAGE SOCIETY?
This organization preserves, promotes and honours the heritage of Coquitlam through the operation of Mackin House by hosting events, workshops and exhibitions in the Edwardian home. It was built in 1909 as a home for the second-in-command at the Fraser Mills Lumber Company and is currently staged with furniture and artifacts of the period to give people a sense of what life would have been like for someone living in the upper-middle class.
Place des Arts is also linked to this history. Part of the Place des Arts building is Ryan House (pictured right) which was built in 1908 to house the Fraser Mills manager. From 1908 until 1956, a total of six managers and their families lived in the home. Ryan House gets its name from Tom Ryan (the manager from 1931 to 1936) and his son Maurice Ryan (Manager from 1936 to 1951). In 1960, the District of Coquitlam took ownership of Ryan House, and in 1961 it was renovated to become the home for the RCMP detachment. When the RCMP left for new quarters in 1972, the Coquitlam Fine Arts council formed the Place des Arts Society and took over the Ryan House, transforming it into a teaching centre for the arts.
In the early 1990s, Place des Arts and Coquitlam Heritage created the vision for Heritage Square. Simply, the goal was to provide more space for Place des Arts programs and a home for the Heritage Society. The vision grew in scope to include museum development at Mackin House, a new building for Place des Arts, and the relocation of the CPR Station, previously located at Blue Mountain Park, to the Square to continue as a railroad museum. Currently, the two organizations manage Heritage Square together.
Our organizations are built on the same lot and come from the same history. Our physical location links us, but so does our shared sense of community and the ideals we share.
[Image: Place des Arts, today]
Coquitlam Heritage and Place des Arts have ties beyond our location.
Candrina notes, “both of our organizations are very compatible with one another. Even with just our service to the community and our ability to support our community.”
We approach this similarly by being interactive, accessible, down-to-earth and available. Both of our organizations show that everyone has a space in the arts and heritage world. As she says it’s “a club that everyone can join.”
This has guided our desire to work together and also the events we’ve worked together on.
WORKING TOGETHER FOR THE COMMUNITY
For the past 7 years, we have collaborated on an annual, multi-event festival, Reflections: a seasonal celebration of arts and heritage, culminating in one large event of the same name. The event includes activities that celebrate and reflect our diverse and colourful community.
We also work together to provide an arts and heritage school program. Schools take a tour of Mackin House (pictured right) to learn about Coquitlam’s history and then come to Place des Arts to do an art activity facilitated by an artist.
For the past three years, Place des Arts has been the host for exhibitions curated by Coquitlam Heritage. According to Candrina, this started because Coquitlam Heritage was looking to other community partners to find a space to host more exhibits and Place des Arts was more than happy to do so.
Their first exhibition titled Mosaic of Our Past was a collaboration with the City of Coquitlam Archives. Coquitlam Heritage invited students from local schools and members of senior’s art groups to examine and draw inspiration from historic photographs and artifacts that represent Coquitlam from the Archives and create their own pieces of art based on these pieces with a total of 41 pieces included in the exhibit, it turned out to be a very successful and worthwhile endeavour.
Last year’s exhibition titled Heirlooms and Treasures looked at tiny artifacts that people kept for themselves or purchased that had a lasting impression on their life. The items were photographed, and each had a story attached to it, either about its legacy in the family or the reasons behind keeping them. There were pieces from historical Coquitlam and from all over the world, depending on the person’s background, demonstrating the rich tapestry that makes up our city. Heirlooms can demonstrate traditions in a home or show how they have changed.
This year, Coquitlam Heritage put out a call for pieces that express people’s experience or understanding of war. They have received “many powerful pieces.”
The exhibition’s focus was inspired by their exhibition Homefront WWII, currently on at Mackin House until June. They wanted to expand on the idea of the Homefront by requesting submissions of anyone living in Coquitlam and their experience or knowledge of the day-to-day efforts living at home during war, hence the title, Civilian Impressions. Both exhibitions give different perspectives on a challenging and powerful subject.
(Image: Mass Grave, Mohadese Movahed)
Because of the incredible response, Coquitlam Heritage is also holding an artist panel with artists Nora El Najjar, Suzie Hartford, Ahamd Reza Rezai and Olga Campbell who will share their stories and experiences of war. Two of the artists will also have books available for purchase at Place des Arts.