Robert Wark

CRUISE-IN: Cars have long local history in Langley

This community's automotive history began before the First World War.

Langley has been a centre of auto enthusiasts for decades. But when did Langley’s love affair with the car begin?

There are two candidates for the first car owner in Langley, according to local historian Warren Sommer.

A man named Patrick Hickey may have had the first vehicle. But most accounts say it was the better known Robert Wark who bought and drove the first car in Langley.

Wark, who was reeve (mayor) of Langley during the First World War, was photographed in 1913 at the wheel of his vehicle in front of the Wark-Dumais house, which still stands today near the Kwantlen Polytechnic University campus.

Also still in place is the oldest piece of paving in the Langleys – the Wark home’s driveway, off Glover Road.

Wark had two strips of concrete laid to his house from the road, with gravel between them. This was more than a decade before Old Yale Road would become Langley’s first paved street.

“The story is that people would have come out to marvel at his folly,” said Sommer. “There wasn’t a lot of entertainment in those days.”

The first garages came during or just after the First World War, as car and truck travel became more common.

“A lot of them, of course, were blacksmith’s shops that adjusted,” said Kobi Christian of the Langley Centennial Museum.

Reid’s Blacksmith Shop in Fort Langley was started around 1910, but spent most of its working life as a garage. The site now hosts the Blacksmith Bakery named in honour of its original purpose.

One of the early garages that stuck around was owned and operated by Alf Marr, the brother of Langley’s first doctor.

Marr’s Yale Garage opened in 1926 and operated in Langley Prairie until a New Year’s Eve fire in 1935 burned it to the ground. Marr rebuilt and ran the garage until 1940 when he retired.

A few years before Marr closed up, the longest running shop in Langley’s history opened on Fraser Highway.

Barron’s Service opened its doors in 1938. It would run on the same spot as a service station and repair shop until 1997, with founder William Barron and then his sons Delroy and Walt running it.

Buying cars in Langley didn’t begin until the 1940s.

In 1941, mechanic Ernie Greenfield opened his own garage, after working in several others in what was then called Langley Prairie.

He would later become Langley’s first car dealer – not that he actually had cars on the lot.

Greenfield’s Langley Motors sold British-built Austins, but if you wanted to see one, you had to make an appointment and have one brought out from Vancouver.

Fraser Valley Motors followed in 1945, with Ford and Mercury vehicles, and Langley Used Car Sales opened in 1948.

That business opened at 200th Street and Fraser Highway. More and more auto dealers followed, and by 1973, advertised themselves as “Langley’s Automotive Row.”

PHOTO: Barron’s Service was the longest-serving gas station and garage in the Langleys. (Del Barron photo)

 

Langley Good Times Cruise-In – what it’s all about

Car clubs come cruising

What’s a car show with music and entertainment

Sunday swap meet – auto parts and much more

Being part of the car show board made her a car buff

Pets won’t enjoy the auto show

Nostalgia night at Langley’s drive-in

New 50/50 draw offered

Just Posted

WATCH: Langley art beneath the vines helps hospice

West Coast Fine Arts late summer show enjoyed natural light in a winery’s greenhouse.

Langley health fair aimed at newcomers to the community

An LCSS event combined fun for kids with information on health services.

Election signs trashed on Langley’s 208th Street

Someone apparently knocked down a block of signs in Willoughby.

VIDEO: Cedar Rim Nursery celebrates 40th anniversary

The celebration created a buzz at the nursery with local vendors, tours and a kids zone

Car crash, wires down cause power failures in Langley

Hundreds of people spent some time in the dark Friday and Saturday.

Conservation officer frees B.C. deer from flotation gear mishap

BC Conservation Officer Service is reminding residents to keep backyards clear of entanglements

Ottawa to name new ambassador for women, peace and security, Freeland says

Chrystia Freeland also confirmed Canada would spend about $25 million to fund number of initiatives

‘A little bright spot:’ Ottawa residents rescue dog trapped beneath rubble

Freelance journalist says rescue of a dog trapped under rubble was happy ending amid chaos in Ottawa

B.C. deaf community wants different sign languages on federal accessibility act

Advocates also want Indigenous Sign Language to be recognized on the Indigenous Language Act

Remainder of Vancouver Whitecaps season filled with ‘must-win’ games: coach

With Vancouver currently sitting four points out of a post-season spot, each contest is crucial

VIDEO: B.C.-born firefighter remembered by MP in emotional speech

Family asks first responders to look after one another in wake of suicide, growing concerns of PTSD

Airline has ‘close call’ with drone while en route to B.C. airport

Jazz Aviation reported the drone sighting near Vancouver to the RCMP and Transport Canada

Tragic accident claims life of B.C. toddler

Fundraising effort has been created to help mom and family

B.C. nanny charged with sex abuse of 3 children

Saanich Police seek potential victims of Johnathon Lee Robichaud from Central Saanich

Most Read