PORT COQUITLAM’S OWN POCO HERITAGE MUSEUM
PoCo Heritage Museum and Archives is a name familiar to most in Port Coquitlam, Canada, and if you haven’t heard of it, welcome! Every community around the world has a unique local story to tell. There is culture, heritage, and history that often goes missing without leaving a trace. Preserving this is the mission of many local museums, and PoCo Heritage is no exception. Their mission is to tell the story of their city and to ensure that we can retain as much of it as they possibly can.
WHERE IS THE POCO HERITAGE MUSEUM & ARCHIVES
Located in the beautiful city of Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, the PoCo Heritage Museum and Archives is located in the downtown centre along with City Hall. It is run by the City of Port Coquitlam and opens its doors to anyone that wishes to learn more about the city’s history.
It was founded in 1988 by Lois Milne and Ada Con along with charter counsellor, Ron Talbot. The goal was to advocate for preserving the rich heritage of Port Coquitlam. So in the early days of its foundation, PoCo Heritage primarily focused on the preservation of heritage buildings and homes throughout the city. They employed tactics such as educating the community and increasing outreach about the need to maintain these historic buildings. Needless to say, the initiative has succeeded in many ways and now the museum has a broader scope.
A GROWING MUSEUM
After campaigning for many years, the city government agreed to provide its support for the creation of a museum space and decided on giving a storage space to the team on the upper floor of a local fire hall in 1997. This allowed the team to start curating a small collection of heritage objects. It wasn’t until 1999 that Port Coquitlam’s first mini-museum was opened by PoCo Heritage on Mary Hill Road that was named ‘Heritage Display Centre’.
In 2007, when the city government opened the Leigh Square Community Arts Village, PoCo Heritage Museum and Archives saw this as an opportunity to expand its operations and do more to offer diverse programming to its community. This led to the moving of the entire operation of PoCo Heritage Museum and Archives to its current space in Port Coquitlam’s old post office building.
THE MUSEUM TODAY
The crowning achievement of the PoCo Heritage Museum and Archives was the successful realization of a collaborative project together with the municipal government, local citizens and the community as a whole. Today, the museum features a constant rotation of exhibitions that explore the past, present and future of Port Coquitlam. Each exhibition furthers its mission of preserving and celebrating the diverse culture and heritage of the city. Exhibits like PoCo’s F Words, Terry Fox: Running to the Heart of Canada, and others have explored what it is to be a resident of Port Coquitlam, and shares that with locals and visitors alike.
POCO HERITAGE MUSEUM & THE VR VOYAGE
Though small in size, this community museum is packed full of information and artefacts that illustrate the history of Port Coquitlam. To further the museum’s educational programming and with a necessity to adapt to the COVID-19 restrictions, PoCo Museum became The VR Voyage’s first museum partner. Though visitors aren’t able to visit as they once did, the F Words exhibit was still on and the team at PoCo Heritage Museum wanted to share that story in a new way, virtually. By collaborating with the management of PoCo Heritage Museum and Archives, The VR Voyage is allowing for virtual tours of the current exhibit. The museum can now create a permanent resource for each of its temporary exhibitions and facilitate a stronger sense of community by leaving the walls of the museum and bringing their story to visitor’s homes and classrooms.