Years after it was stolen by metal thieves, a marker commemorating a Langley pioneer is back in place.
This time, the marker for Robert Shortreed Jr. is made of granite, in an attempt to deter any thieves.
The plaque is located on a small stone cairn on the northwest side of the intersection of Fraser Highway and 264th Street. It was there that Robert Shortreed settled when he moved to Langley from Ontario in 1883. His general store stood for years where the current McDonald's restaurant stands, said June Speedie, whose family would later buy much of the Shortreed homestead.
Shortreed would become a justice of the peace at 23, marry a neighbour's daughter, and install the first CPR telegraph key in the region. He was also an early adopter of the telephone and operated the Shortreed post office. In those days, Speedie noted, Shortreed was seen as a separate hamlet from Aldergrove, which was a few kilometers down Old Yale Road (now Fraser Highway) to the east.
Over the decades, Aldergrove thrived and eventually absorbed nearby hamlets like Shortreed and Patricia that had once had independent identities.
The cairn was raised around 1990, the same year the old Shortreed home itself was sold.
Sometime between 2008 and 2010, someone pried off the bronze plaque, probably for the scrap metal value. The Alder Grove Heritage Society decided to do something about the missing piece of local history, and contacted Wayne Boylan of First Memorial Funeral Services.
As an Aldergrove funeral home manager, he would know where to get a memorial plaque. But Boylan advised against a simple replacement.
"I said, you could order another one, but it would just get stolen again," he said.
Instead, he suggested a plaque carved out of granite. It has no intrinsic value once it's been inscribed with its message, Boylan noted.
The new plaque was unveiled Thursday with a few local dignitaries, and Shortreed's grand-nephew Rodney Deans in attendance, as well as brother and sister Dave and June Speedie.
"Hopefully, it will not be vandalized again," said June Speedie.