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Coquitlam, British Columbia (Canada)

Greater Vancouver Regional District

Last modified: 2012-08-11 by rob raeside
Keywords: british columbia | coquitlam |
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[Coquitlam, British Columbia] image by Dean McGee,26 August 2005


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Description of the flag

The District of Coquitlam was given a coat of arms and flag on 30 Oct. 1990, in celebration of the District's upcoming centennial (incorporation: 25 July 1891). These symbols were carried over when the district was raised to the level of a city on 1 December 1992.

A letter in the archives of the Coquitlam Public Library gives the symbolism by the designer himself, Graham L. Anderson, then chair of the BC/Yukon branch of the Heraldry Society of Canada, a resident of Cowichan Bay BC, who now holds the title of Cowichan Herald Extraordinary in the Canadian Heraldic Authority. (The artist was Mr. Alistair Priestly of nearby Port Moody)

Symbolism in the Armorial Bearings of coquitlam

The colours blue and white have no particular significance. I chose them only because they give, especially in the flag, a nice clean, fresh appearance.

The wavy blue fess across the middle of the shield can be seen in two different ways. Seen as a single blue wavy line it represents the Fraser River and the gold wavy centre then becomes a reference to the Gold Rush of the 1850's. It can be seen as two wavy blue bars in which case they represent the Pitt and Coquitlam Rivers and the gold centre then becomes a symbol of prosperity.

The base of the shield the fleur-de-lys is a reference to the French settlers who came to Maillardville in the early days.

The upper part of the shield - called the chief - is blue and on it I placed a five-leaved device known as a cinquefoil. In Scottish heraldry this symbol is called a fraise and is a pun on the name of Simon Fraser who came by in his canoe in 1808 exploring the river which now bears his name. [a handwritten note in the margin (by Mr. Anderson?) notes "Fraises also appear in the arms of Simon Fraser University for the same reason."] On either side of the fraise are two dogwood flowers, obvious references to the Province of B.C. and the symbol formerly used by the district. The edge of the chief is crenellated like the rampart of a fort and is a reference to the Royal Engineers who had a fort in this region in the early days.

Above the helmet is the crest in this case a coronet the rim of which repeats the symbols found in the chief in the shield below.

On either side of the shield are the supporters. I chose Clydesdale stallions because I was aware that in the early days these horses were used to clear the land of Coquitlam and to break the soil for the first farmers. Each horse has on its shoulder a blue fraise. This is a difference mark. It may happen that in future some other corporate body may want to use horses as supporters. They may even want them of the same colour. These difference marks ensure that Coquitlam's horses are absolutely unique.

The motto in English - The Spirit of the Rivers (is) the Strength of the People was first suggested by Robert D. Watt, Chief Herald of Canada. I merely translated this at the request of the authorities into Latin.

1 November, 1990
Graham L. Anderson,
Chairman,
The B.C./Yukon Branch,
The Heraldry Society of Canada.

I have repeated the entire letter for what it's worth, I guess the last three paragraphs (crest, supporters, motto) are Non-Flag-Related.

The old "letterhead" logo, from the 1970s indeed featured a Dogwood flower (cornus nutalii), it was likely never used on a flag. The old "crest" (i.e., coat of arms) was an exercise in quasi-heraldry: the shield bore a maple leaf above a fish, with a plough and a cornucopia in the base; the "supporters", if they can be called that were an evergreen tree (likely a Douglas Fir), and a sailing ship viewed head-on. A scroll above had the legend "DISTRICT/OF/COQUITLAM", while one below read: "FEAR GOD/ HONOUR / THE QUEEN". The example I have is uncoloured, it may have been used in Black and White (or possibly all the charges could have been in "proper" colours.

Interestingly, the actual flags carry the shadings and outlines as shown on the shield.

Coquitlam borders Port Moody, Burnaby, New Westminster, Surrey (across the Fraser River via the Port Mann Bridge on the Trans-Canada Highway), Port Coquitlam, and Anmore, as well as "Electoral Area A" (which is the unincorporated areas of the GVRD). Coquitlam's only post-secondary institution is a campus of Douglas College.

Area 12,168ha, population (2004 est.) 121,463.

Port Coquitlam and Fraser Mills separated from Coquitlam in 1912, Fraser Mills was re-absorbed in 1972 and probably never used a flag.
Dean McGee, 26 August 2005