Rich farmland was what first attracted many of the European settlers to Coquitlam. Early farms were scattered around the district, particularly in the area of Westminster Junction (now Port Coquitlam) and the Coquitlam Agricultural Society was formed in 1903. Some workers in other industries would supplement their incomes by farming and would sell and trade their produce in New Westminster, Port Moody, and Vancouver. By the 1920s, greenhouses were popping up along Rochester, Cottonwood, and Como Lake Avenue, commonly growing cucumbers, tomatoes, and flowers like chrysanthemums (Coquitlam Public Library New Horizons for Seniors Committee, p. 41). Minnekhada Farm, now a regional park, was opened in 1895, after a Crown grant was given to George Alderson in 1895. Minnekhada farm was known for using state-of-the-art farming practices (Coquitlam Public Library New Horizons for Seniors Committee, p. 43).
Colony Farm, one of city’s most famous farms and now a regional park, was built to accompany Essondale, later Riverview Hospital, a new mental health facility in the Coquitlam that opened in April 1913. According to Coquitlam: Now and Then, the farm was “intended for a dual purpose: both to produce onsite much of the food required by the patients and staff, and to provide a form a therapy by engaging the patients in farming work” (Coquitlam Public Library New Horizons for Seniors Committee, p. 43). By 1911, the farm was not only producing vegetables, fruits, eggs, and meat for the hospital, but also for the community. Ralph Homfeld, who worked at Colony Farm for 41 years, recalled: “Colony Farm produced the milk, meat and vegetables for Essondale and Woodlands School. Colony Farm and Essondale covered about 1,2000 acres [...] it was the best soil in the province - probably still is” (Pioneer Tales Book Committee, p. 126).The farm also won prizes for its Clydesdale horses and Holstein cows and provided a habitat for more than 150 species of birds, including bald eagles and barn owls (Coquitlam Public Library New Horizons for Seniors Committee, p. 73). Colony Farm was closed in 1983, due to economic conditions.
Coquitlam Public Library New Horizons for Seniors Committee. Coquitlam Then and Now. Coquitlam, B.C.: Coquitlam Public Library, 2011.
Pioneer Tales Book Committee. Coquitlam, 100 Years: Reflections on the Past. Coquitlam, B.C.: District of Coquitlam, 1990.