My Hometown: Port Coquitlam, B.C.
Born and raised in what we call PoCo, this small city has become a centre for arts and culture, outdoor activities and some funny comedians.
With the Fraser River to the south, the Pitt River to the east and the Coquitlam River to the west, Port Coquitlam sits prettily in the middle, just over 30 km east of Vancouver, making it the geographical centre of the Lower Mainland. This is the home of an annual salmon spawning route, Canadian hero Terry Fox, serial killer Robert Pickton, and, well, me. (Photo credit: Lori Henry)
I grew up playing ringette (similar to hockey but played with a straight stick and ring instead of a bladed stick and puck) and danced. This love of activity was not uncommon in PoCo as we all grew up idolizing Terry Fox, the young man who set out to run the cross-Canada Marathon of Hope to raise money for cancer research with one amputated leg. Since Fox grew up here from the age of 10, he is considered a local hero and the annual Terry Fox Run continues to be a very important part of every school year.
Fox’s athletic legacy lives on as the city created a 25-kilometre trail called the Traboulay PoCo Trail, which encircles most of the city. It’s a popular trail for jogging, cycling and rollerblading inland and beside the river log booms. Off trail, there are community parks for baseball, softball, soccer and lacrosse scattered throughout. (Photo credit: Lori Henry)
PoCo is Funny
There’s a great little comedy scene here. I grew up with a few of the guys that make up table23 comedy, the local improv troupe based out of their own space in Second Storey Theatre, located on top of the downtown Dairy Queen. Right down the street is the Giggle Dam Dinner Theatre where comedy is cooked up on the outrageous side over dinner and drinks. (Photo courtesy of table23)
The Downtown Arts Scene
When I was growing up in Port Coquitlam, not much happened downtown. Over the last few years, though, I have noticed how pretty the small city centre has become. Leafy streets around city hall bloom in the spring, murals splash across the sides of buildings, and summer events swing through the Leigh Square Community Arts Village. This downtown centrepiece has an inner courtyard with an outdoor stage, public murals, sculptures and lots of seating. (Photo credit: Lori Henry)
U Pick Blueberry Farms
I’ve been spoiled by fresh blueberries my whole life. About a five-minute drive from my old house are numerous “U Pick” blueberry farms that have bushes jam-packed with juicy berries in the late summer. You can pick your own, or do as I do and call ahead to pick up multiple pounds of already-picked ones. For out-of-towners, a few of the farms also offer overnight bed-and-breakfast style accommodations. (Photo credit: Lori Henry)
It’s fitting that Port Coquitlam is named after the Salish First Nations word Kwayhquitlum, which means “red fish in the river”. There’s even the Hyde Creek Salmon Festival, a popular event among children. Every year growing up, I would head to nearby Hyde Creek Recreation Centre’s backyard where salmon fight the upstream river to return to their home to spawn. It’s an annual site in November that I remember for the struggling little fish and the pungent smell that filled the air. (Photo credit: Vincent Ma)