Port Coquitlam, B.C.
The area was first used by the Coast Salish people, including the Kwikwetl’em people. The first European settlers began farming beside the Pitt River in 1859. The Canadian Pacific Railway moved its terminus from Vancouver to the banks of the Fraser River in 1911. Port Coquitlam was first incorporated as a municipality on March 7, 1913. Port Coquitlam was originally mostly farm land; however, the beginning of our parish we can notice that in the year 1934 a decision was made to hold Mass in Port Coquitlam at one of the parishioner’s house. The owner of this house was Mrs. Lafleur and this Mass was celebrated by the first pastor of our Lady of Assumption Parish, Father Thomas Finnigan. He came to Port Coquitlam from St. Michael’s Parish in Sapperton in 1934. Later Fr. Finnigan celebrated Mass also at Ralph Saterelli’s shoemaker shop and the Boileau’s barbershop.
When more people began to gather, the young Catholic Community met to pray in the Elk’s Hall and the Commercial Hotel. The Catholic Community was growing up and they began to seek a building which would serve them as a church. The opportunity of have a building came up when a Chinese vegetable market situated on Coquitlam Avenue (now the Lougheed Highway) had been put up for sale. Fr. Finnigan with the parishioners decided to buy this building. They bought this market for $400 and began to adapt this building to the needs of the Church. Next a lean-to was added for the parish priest’s residence. After that everything was ready to bless the Church. On May 22, 1938 the Most Reverend William Duke, Archbishop of Vancouver formally blessed the church. Simultaneously the first Pastor of Our Lady of Assumption Parish organized parish life. He began to teach children catechism. He invited the Sisters of Service from Vancouver to help him to do so. Next, in 1943 Bible Study Groups came into being at the Making’s family home. Fr. Finnigan was pastor of Our Lady of the Assumption Parish until 1943.
In 1943 Father James Barry replaced Father Finnigan. He came from Mission City. He built the first rectory which was placed very close to the first church. At this time the Holy Name Society, youth groups, CWL, and others were working in the Parish.
In 1947 the next change of Priest took place. Father Joseph Kane replaced Father James Barry. Father Kane came from Saint Ann’s Parish in Abbotsford. After the Second World War the population in Port Coquitlam grew. The first Church became too small for the Parish Community. Father Kane with parishioners made the decision to build a new, bigger church. He was highly commended for acquiring $ 75,000 to assist building the new Church and obtaining more property to accommodate the future expansion of the parish including a rectory, hall, school and playground whenever the need arose. On May 29, 1955, the site of the new Church was dedicated by Co-adjudicator Archbishop of Vancouver, Most Reverend M.M. Johnson. Father Joseph Kane had contracted architect Peter Thornton to prepare plans for the new church. On December 16 1956, the same Bishop, Most Reverend M.M. Johnson blessed the New Church. In March of 1958, Monsignor Kane retired to North Vancouver and he was replaced by Father Nestor Therrien. Father Nestor was only a few months in our Parish.