History

Explore the past of Riverview

The History

Pre 1904
1904
1913
1922
1924
1930
1950
1955
1958
1998
2013

blank and white ariel photo of riverview in the early 1950s

Riverview Lands

The Kwikwetlem First Nation (kFN) has a long history living on the banks of the Coquitlam River. The Nation claim the Riverview Lands as part of their traditional territory.

In respect of this interest, and the Nation’s ties to the land, in 2012 the Province and the Kwikwetlem First Nation entered into a Protocol Agreement regarding the visioning process. The protocol details the Province’s legal and ethical requirements to respect the Nation’s aspirations.

black and white photo of riverview hospital

Riverview Hospital

The Provincial Lunatic Asylum in New Westminster was filled beyond capacity. In response, the Riverview Lands (1,000 acres) were acquired by the provincial government in 1904.

The new institution was named as the Hospital for the Mind at Mount Coquitlam. The hospital is renamed Essondale in 1913 after Henry Esson Young, in recognition of his role in establishing the facility. In 1966, the hospital changes its name to Riverview. The hospital closed in 2012.

Mens Chronic Wing building in Essondale 1932

West Lawn

The Male Chronic Wing opens in 1913. It is renamed West Lawn in 1950. With Riverview’s population continuing to fall, West Lawn permanently closes in 1983. This is the oldest building on site.

Boys Industrial School Essondale 1929

Boys Industrial School of Coquitlam (BISCO)

The Provincial Industrial School for Boys, which emphasized work as a cure for delinquency, opens in 1922. It remained on site until 1955. The English tudor-style cottages were moved in the 1950’s to Vancouver Island.

Centre Lawn Building Essondale

Centre Lawn

The Acute Psychopathic Wing (Centre Lawn) opens in 1924 and closes in 2012. It is an eight storey hospital located adjacent to the West Lawn building. This building was the female unit of the hospital.

Female Chronic Wing Dormitory Essondale 1950s

East Lawn

The East Lawn opens in 1930 and closes to patients in 2005. It was opened as an all-female unit and was renamed the East Lawn in 1950. It is the largest building at Riverview.

Patients working in the gardens Essondale 1950s

Riverview Health Services

Various provincial mental health activities are combined into the Provincial Mental Health Services. The hospital is now called the Provincial Mental Hospital, Essondale. Designed originally for 1,800, Essondale’s population peaks at 4,630 patients. Anti-psychotic drugs are introduced in 1954, marking a significant change in the treatment of mental illness by greatly reducing the severity and length of symptoms.

Tuck Shop at Essondale in 1950s

Essondale Post Office & Tuck Shop

The single storey wood frame building was constructed as a post office and lunch counter in 1955. It was built to serve the needs of the growing population of Essondale.

riverview cemetery

Riverview Hospital Cemetry

A small cemetery is located in the northern section of the Riverview Lands. It will be preserved as an important part of the Riverview legacy and history. The cemetery was originally known as the Essondale Cemetery and was renamed the Riverview Hospital Cemetery in 1965.

The burial grounds were established for patients who had no family, or whose family members requested they be laid to rest at the site. Prior to 1958, deceased patients whose families did not look after funeral arrangements were buried in unmarked graves in Fraser Cemetery in New Westminster, until early 1920.

ariel shot of riverview today

Development of Mental Health Services

The Mental Health Initiative introduces a complete plan for the development of mental health services throughout the province. It focuses on replacing Riverview with smaller, more specialized regional facilities. Its focus was to move mental health care towards more inclusive and community based care, which resulted in the closing of institutions.

front page of the Vsion Document for Renewing Riverview

BC Housing Vision Process

BC Housing announces a stakeholder visioning process that will include an open and comprehensive public consultation process. BC Housing is given the mandate by the province to lead future planning of the Riverview Lands.