by Kobi Christian/Special to the Langley Advance
The Langley Advance has been an important source of information on our community’s past for 85 years now, and that longevity has given it a special place amongst Langley’s print media. Although several newspapers started and folded in Langley’s early years, it is now hard to find any existing copies of these early sources.
Growing up in Langley, the Advance was an important source of local information, and I still read it in print and online to keep on top of issues and events within the community.
When I was a student at the University of the Fraser Valley I began volunteering at the Langley Centennial Museum. I was later employed for summers and part-time work before becoming a regular employee. A number of years back we were able to obtain the newspaper on microfilm from its 1931 beginnings until 1996, and this has been such an incredibly useful resource for staff and researchers in and outside of our community.
Being able to look back and find the stories – as they were happening – has been helpful in so many ways. An example: in 2014 the museum created an exhibit about the Second World War and Langley. Volumes of work exist about the war, of course – but what was happening in Langley during this time? How were we to find out if locals were rationing, and what was being rationed here, or where future soldiers were enlisting? The Langley Advance provided much of the needed information.
The Advance has also been an incredibly handy tool for genealogists. I can’t count the number of times that people have been looking for a story about a family member – maybe a wedding announcement, a story about a family business, a school, or an obituary – and have been able to come to the museum and find it in the Advance on microfilm. Once, we were even able to help a Scandinavian TV crew help someone find her birth family.
In 2009, after discussions with the newspaper, the museum began to help digitize and archive the Langley Advance’s most impressive photograph collection. Knowing that decades of day-to-day images – capturing many important Langley places and faces – could be lost if not captured soon, the Advance agreed to allow the museum to copy the photos and make them available on the museum’s website.
More than 1,000 photos from the Advance archives, primarily from the 1950s to the 1970s, were identified and added, and today can be found at museum.tol.ca. Several volunteers helped to identify and sort photos, and the microfilm was used to find the photos in the newspaper, allowing us to link the exact date, captions, and stories to the images.
One of the museum’s long time volunteers helped with some of this identifying – Betty Cox, wife of Fred Cox and daughter-in-law of E. J. Cox, the Advance’s founding editor.
From the newspaper’s interest in our past, demonstrated by the Looking Back column and how staff value the archiving of their photo collection, the Langley Advance continues to be a touchstone for our community, connecting our past and present.
Thanks for continuing to keep Langley connected! Congratulations to the Langley Advance on 85 years.
– Kobi Christian is the arts and culture curator at the Langley Centennial Museum