History of the Parish

Our Lady of Lourdes Parish
Coquitlam, B.C.

Lourdes Church

Our Lady of Lourdes Parish

It started when the first French-Canadians who settled in what was to become Maillardville crossed Canada all the way from Rockland, Ontario, and Hull and Sherbrooke in Québec. On September 27, 1909 the first group of pioneers arrived, recruited by Fathers William O’Boyle and Theodore Theroux, to work at the Fraser Mills sawmill on the North Shore of the Fraser River. By June, 1910 between 200 and 400 French-speaking families came west to make up the new community that answered the call to meet a labour shortage which threatened to close the mill.

Father William O'Boyle, OMI

Fr. William O’Boyle, OMI
1908 – 1909

Religion held a very important place in the hearts of the pioneers and in September, 1909 they founded the French-speaking parish called Paroisse de Fraser Mills – Parish of Fraser Mills later changed to Our Lady of Lourdes. The congregation of Maillardville attended Sunday Mass in the school classroom on the top floor of the Fraser Mills General Store. Church service was administered at first by Father William O’Boyle and then by Father Edmond Maillard who came weekly to hold mass for the residents of what was to become Maillardville.

Management at Fraser Mills offered the settlers the site and materials needed to build the church and by 1910, thanks to everyone’s efforts, the parishioners of Our Lady of Lourdes (the French “Notre Dame de Lourdes” was originally used) were able to celebrate Christmas mass in the church they had erected on Laval Square. The new Church was blessed on December 11, 1910 by Archbishop Neil McNeil, Secular. The first Pastor, Father R.P. Edmond Maillard, OMI, an Oblate missionary, was a young priest from France who stayed with the pioneers for two years, left an indelible trace: the community was baptized in his honour in 1912.

Father Maillard

Rev. F. Edmond Maillard, O.M.I.
1909 – 1911

Maillardville’s centre was Laval Square and Our Lady of Lourdes Church. The Square was the heart of community life. Maillardville was the first French-Canadian settlement in B.C. and is B.C.’s oldest French-speaking community.

The school began in October, 1909 and for two months Miss. Blancard taught the 30 children in a room above the Fraser Mills General Store. In December of the same year French-speaking Sister Marie Amélie (Superior) and Sister Marie Alix, Sisters of the Child Jesus, take over teaching the pioneer children. They had been asked by the Oblate Fathers to come and teach. They lived at St. Louis College until the convent was built by the parish and would walk part of the way through the forest every day.

On May 7, 1911 Father Charles Pelletier, Secular, becomes Pastor after Father Maillard was asked to leave by Archbishop McNeil.

Our Lady of Lourdes Elementary School opened on the church grounds August 26, 1911. It was situated on the North West corner of the present Church parking lot on Laval Square. The convent and rectory were also opened at the same time. It operated there until 1960.

Father E. de Wilde replaced Father Pelletier and is the Pastor from January to May, 1912.

This church was destroyed by fire on February 26, 1912. A temporary church was built to replace it on the South East corner of Laval Square which is now St. Anne’s Hall.

In May, 1912 Father Emile Garon, Secular, replaced Father de Wilde and will be the Pastor until 1916. On September 1st Father Garon was responsible for giving “Maillard-ville” its name. Maillardville was, however, refused permission to incorporate as a township.

Father Garon

Rev. F. Emile Garon, Secular
1912 – 1916

The name Maillardville was chosen by the settlers to honour the founding Our Lady of Lourdes Pastor, Father Edmond Maillard. The name is a reminder of the early and close ties between Coquitlam’s francophone pioneers and the Catholic Church. The francophone influence remains highly visible in street names such as Delestre, Teck and Vanier, all of which commemorate parish priests.

The first post office was established in the “George Proulx Store” on the northwest corner of Pitt River Road (Brunette) and Laval Street in 1913. The Postmaster General granted the village a post office under the name of Maillardville. The postmark Maillardville was in honor of Father Maillard.

Father Alexandre L. de Lestré, O Praem, replaces Father Garon in 1916 and will be the Pastor until 1929. As of May 17, 1916 the population of the parish was 480 (92 families total with 85 being French-Canadian). In October a new altar was construction with the last supper insert. A parishioner, Mr. Mackin, donated the wood. The altar was used until the 1960’s.

Father Delestre

Rev. F. Alexandre L. de Lestré, Praemonstran Canon
1916 – 1929

The Ladies of St. Anne was founded on May 16, 1917.

The statue of St. Theresa was blessed in 1926 and is still in our church.

On July 12, 1929 Father Xavier Teck, O. Praem, becomes Pastor. He has a street named after him in Maillardville. He celebrated his 25th anniversary as a priest in the church on January 8, 1933.

Father Teck

Rev. F. François-Xavier Teck, Praemonstron Canon
1929 – 1948

When the second church at St. Anne’s Hall had become too small for the growing congregation it was moved to a temporary structure built over the first church’s foundation. This was used from December 15, 1929 to 1938. St. Anne’s Hall was used as classrooms from the 1930’s to 1960’s.   In the early 1930’s the baptismal font was built by a parishioner, Bartholemew Lambert, for the baptism of one of his children. It was replaced in 2008.

Fraser Mills went on strike on September 17, 1931 and the strike ended on November 20th of the same year. The mill closes on October 31, 2001. The name of the mill when it closed was International Forest Products Ltd., Fraser Mills Division (Interfor). Raymond Gareau, a child of the parish, was instrumental in “Fraser Mills” being left in the name of the mill.

The present church was built on the first church’s foundation and blessed November 6, 1938 by Archbishop Duke. The rectory, convent and school were all renovated in this year.

In 1939 there were many additions to the interior of the church with the statue of the Sacred Heart installed in the niche in the church steeple in September, and the Stations of the Cross (still in our church) and statue of St. John the Baptist added in November.

The community kept growing with new institutions such as the Caisse Populaire de Notre-Dame de Lourdes opening on April 6, 1946. The name was later changed to Caisse Populaire de Maillardville. It is now Van City.

Father Teck had decided that the parish had grown too big and second parish was formed. Our Lady of Fatima Parish was established to serve the expanding congregation, with the first mass on December 8, 1946. Two years later, Our Lady of Fatima School opened next to the church. It became a French only school in 1954.

Father Paul Vanier becomes the new Pastor in 1948. He has a street named after him in Maillardville.

Father Vanier

Rev. F. Paul Emile Vanier, secular
1948 – 1951

As the population increased, a third Catholic parish in Coquitlam is formed and All Saints Parish is founded in 1949. This same year Father Joseph Fouquette, a child of the parish, is ordained in May. The Knights of Columbus started in July.

Our Lady of Lourdes High School on Hammond Avenue was built by Father Vanier and opened in September, 1950. It was sold to the City of Coquitlam in 1973 and is now Maillard Elementary School.

Father Joseph Fouquette becomes the Pastor in 1951. On April 2, 1951, 840 children were pulled out of Our Lady of Lourdes and Our Lady of Fatima Schools and enrolled into the public schools. With the school strike, declaration and walk the Catholic School Board and parents were hoping to get help from the government to run the private schools. Having no children to teach the Sisters of the Child Jesus leave in July. A few found work teaching in the high school in the fall of 1951. The high school reopens on September 2, 1951 but the elementary schools stay on strike for one more year. Unfortunately the action did not achieve any results in the short term. However, with sustained resistance on the issue of payment of property taxes, the battle carried out in Maillardville led to an exemption from future taxes for the Catholic schools not only in Maillardville but throughout the province.

Father Fouquette

Rev. F. Abbé Joseph Fouquette
1951 – 1953

A letter was sent by Father Fouquette to the Ursuline Sisters in Quebec in July, 1951 asking them to come and teach in our schools. They arrive on August 22, 1952 and with the strike over the elementary school reopens on September 2, 1952. The Sisters of the Child Jesus taught in the schools from 1909 to 1952 and 1968 to 1983. The Ursulines of Rimouski Sisters taught in the schools from 1952 to 1967.

Father Albéric Fréchette, OFM, was the first Franciscan priest in our parish and become the Pastor in 1953. He celebrates his 25th anniversary as a priest on June 29, 1970 but becomes ill and passes away June 19, 1971. He was 54 years old.

Father Frechette

Rev. F. Alberic Frechette, Franciscan
1953 – 1970

The statue of the Sacred Heart in the church steeple is replaced by the statue of Our Lady of Lourdes in 1955.

Father Albini Finnigan, a child of the parish, is ordained in April, 1957. Father Lester Roberge, also a child of the parish, is ordained in 1959.

Celebrations were held in 1959 for the 50th Anniversary of the founding of our parish. To commemorate this milestone Father Fréchette renovated the inside of the church.

A new convent and Elementary School was built on Rochester Avenue in 1960 and operated until 1996. In 1983 Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of Fatima and All Saints parishes join together to run two schools. Fatima teaches French students and Lourdes English. The parish no longer operates a school, and the site on Rochester Avenue is being rented out to the Traditional Learning Academy, a private school.

Over the years, great efforts have been made by the francophone descendants to maintain their French heritage through parish and community events, societies, organizations and a senior’s home. On November 21, 1963 the Societée Bi-Culturel de Maillardville is founded. A home for French speaking seniors, Foyer Maillard, opens May 1, 1969. The first Franco Fête, an annual family fun fair, is held in 1974. Maillardville Unis is founded on January 18, 1979. In 1982 the choir Les Échos du Pacifique started. The first “Festival du Bois” is held on April 23, 1983.

Father Paul Surette, OFM, becomes Pastor in 1970 when Father Fréchette becomes ill and remains until 1975.

Father Surette

Rev. F. Felix Paul Surette, Franciscan
1970 – 1975

In 1975 Father Gerard Chabot, OFM, becomes Pastor and stays until 1982. In 1979 he renovates the rectory and landscapes the church grounds.

Father Chabot

Rev. F. Chabot
1975 – 1981

Father Stan Frytek, OFM, comes to the parish in 1982 and the Pastor. He celebrates his 50th Anniversary as a priest in 1995 and 60th in 2005. He retires on November 30, 2007.

Father Frytek

Rev. F. Stan Frytek, O.F.M.
1981 – 2007

Our Lady of Lourdes celebrated the 75th Anniversary of the parish in 1984. A rare and unique high relief sculpture designed by Roy Lewis is unveiled at the celebration. The artist is a Professor of Arts at U.B.C. and a member of the Artists Association of B.C.

In 1987 vinyl siding is installed on the church, rectory and St. Anne’s Hall, and the steeple is added to the church on December 8th of the same year.

On June 24, 1999, Archbishop Adam Exner announced the establishment of the new parish St. Clare of Assisi in Coquitlam. The first parish Masses were held on September 18, 1999 at Eagle Ridge United Church. On October 11, 2003 Archbishop Adam Exner blessed the new St. Clare of Assisi Parish Hall that will function as the church until further notice.

Father Bruce McAllister becomes a temporary Pastor from December 1, 2007 to January 31, 2008.

Father Bruce McAllister

Father Bruce McAllister
December 1, 2007 to January 31, 2008

Father Gabriel de Chadrévien, OP, arrived February 1 to June 30, 2008 until our permanent pastor is placed.

Father Gabriel

Fr. Gabriel, OP
February 1, 2008 – June 30, 2008

July 11, 2008 is the official date that Father Alan Boisclair becomes Pastor. He has been instrumental in doing major renovations to the church interior to provide a more cost effective, stable and safer building with fire retardant. The altar will be clad in marble to bring it to its original glory.

Father Boisclair

Fr. Alan Boisclair
July 11, 2008 – July 2010

On February 8, 2009 Our Lady of Lourdes will celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the parish. To mark the occasion of this milestone centennial celebration Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, will officiate in the Solemn Consecration of the new altar and pillars and provide a Blessing Mass of Thanksgiving.

Over the 100 hundred years the community has changed but the town and streets still bear the name of many of our pastors and the Church is still a reminder of the rich history. For a century the parish has been blessed as we remember today the many men and women through the years whose faith, vision and sacrifice have helped build this house of prayer, this dwelling place of God, this Church. Let us come together to celebrate the continued building of a family of faith, rejoice in our faith in God, our gratitude for those came first and our pride in Our Lady of Lourdes Parish.

The current pastor, Fr. Mariano Barreto was installed on July 18, 2010 and has been the current community leader since.

Father Mariano

Fr. Mariano Barreto
Current Priest since July 18, 2010