A Man for Hard Times

“For More Than 40 Years, G.R. Leigh has Guided Destiny of Port Coquitlam”

Those words were printed in the Vancouver Sun on April 17, 1954, in honour of the retirement of G. Roy Leigh. Arriving from Northamptonshire, England in 1912, Leigh was a charter member of the Port Coquitlam staff when the city was incorporated in 1913. Soon after, the boundless optimism which had swept through the city had faded amidst hard times. By 1921, the war, Spanish Flu, fire and flood had taken their toll on the city and its finances. Some 75 percent of all properties reverted back to the city through tax sales. The remaining 25 percent carried the burden of debt payment and maintenance.

While other cities were defaulting on their loans and going into receivership, Port Coquitlam remained steadfast under Leigh’s no-nonsense, honest and gentlemanly approach. He lowered salaries, reduced overhead and costs and re-negotiated debts with bondholders.

In addition to his roles as assessor and city clerk (a role he assumed in 1938 from John Smith) he had served as the first president of the Municipal Officers Association of B.C., Secretary of the School Board, Justice of the Peace, as well as being a judge and police magistrate. It is likely not a stretch to say that Port Coquitlam as it exists today would probably not have been the same if it were not for Leigh, who passed away in 1961. The original Leigh School in Coquitlam as well as Leigh Square (right here) both carry his name.


G. Roy Leigh, 1888 - 1961
Source: PoCo Heritage Archives, City of Port Coquitlam, Logo Copyright City of Port Coquitlam

Sources:

“History of Port Coquitlam”, Edith D. Chambers, 1973

“Where Rails Meet Rivers”, Chuck Davis, 2000