COQUITLAM, BC – Watching salmon fight their way upstream to spawn each fall is an awe-inspiring experience – even after a quarter century.
This year’s Salmon Come Home event at Hoy Creek Hatchery Oct. 22 celebrates 25 years of welcoming the salmon back to their spawning grounds, and educating the public about the lifecycle of salmon and the watershed that supports it.
Co-hosted by the City of Coquitlam and Hoy-Scott Watershed Society, the free family event runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and includes hatchery tours, music, crafts, environmental displays, food, and children’s activities such as a costume parade and storytelling.
The highlight is witnessing the return of chum and coho salmon to the creek where they were spawned, after living most of their adult lives at sea. Prime viewing of the returning salmon is from mid-October to early November.
When the festival started in 1992, today’s Hoy-Scott Watershed Society was known as the Hoy-Scott Watershed Streamkeepers and the hatchery did not yet exist. The event was in its fifth year when the hatchery was built in 1997 on the grounds of a former trout-rearing facility on the old Frederick Brewer property. The site was restored in 1995 with help from the City, federal government and volunteers, and the pond that used to rear trout now helps raise salmon.
The Hoy-Scott Watershed Streamkeepers formed a society in 1992, with an expanded mandate to promote watershed restoration and public awareness of the need to preserve the creek and surrounding habitat. Having met the original goal of rebuilding the coho population, the society extended its focus in 2015 to include chum salmon.
While Salmon Come Home has evolved and grown over the years – now typically attracting thousands each year – at its heart it has always been a celebration of one of nature’s wonders: the salmon’s annual return to its spawning grounds.
Those attending on Oct. 22 are advised to dress for the weather. The event runs rain or shine.
The Hoy Creek Hatchery is in Hoy Creek Linear Park, west of the City Centre Aquatic Complex (Pinetree and Guildford Way), and is a seven-minute walk from the Lafarge Lake-Douglas SkyTrain Station.
Visitors can walk in from a variety of locations: from Princess Crescent, from behind Douglas College; from Guildford Way (between Johnson and Pinetree), from Walton Avenue or behind Walton Elementary, or from the foot of Lasalle Place.
Free parking is available at Coquitlam City Hall, Pinetree Community Centre and Douglas College.