LISTEN: Retired Fort Langley broadcaster gives voice to local history

Heritage buff Mark Forsythe introduces Valley Voices, a podcast featuring Fraser Valley’s history.

by Bob Groeneveld/Special to the Langley Advance

There is no shortage of different historical angles to tap into in the Fraser Valley.

“Let’s be more aware of the heritage around us before it disappears, because development is just forging ahead,” Mark Forsythe explained his passion for his latest on-air project.

The retired CBC Radio Morning Show and BC Almanac host is back on the air, this time hosting Valley Voices, a monthly podcast steeped in history, at CIVL – a local radio station housed at University of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford.

Forsythe developed an interest in B.C. history and heritage – and a fondness for sharing that interest – during his 30 years at the CBC.

A resident of Fort Langley for the past “24 years or so,” he is an active member of the Langley Heritage Society, serving on the board and “sort of looking after their website, and I’m doing some videos with high school students about some of our heritage properties.”

“The more I get involved in the heritage community, the more I’m learning about the history of the region,” he said. “I’m surrounded by all these people who have so much knowledge.”

There’s more to the history he’ll be sharing than dates and places.

His first show, which aired on March 7 and can be heard here or through the LHS site at www.langleyheritage.ca/whats-new/, includes discussions with UBC professor emeritus Jean Barman: “I stuck a microphone in front of her face to talk about how you can research your own local history and what some of the resources are.”

Local historian Warren Sommer also joined him for the first show.

He is helping Forsythe tap into hundreds of audio files from the archives at Langley Centennial Museum, interviews with Langley pioneers made by Sommer and others over many years.

Forsythe is starting with Langley, explaining, “I kind of think Langley’s history is the Fraser Valley’s history. The Hudson Bay Co. set up shop right outside my window here. [Langley history] shares a lot in common with the development in Chilliwack-Abbotsford corridor.”

But the whole valley is at his disposal.

An upcoming podcast will include discussions with Sharn Sandhra who will talk about how and why the Abbotsford Sikh Temple was built more than 100 years ago.

“The temple is a national historic site that a lot of people aren’t aware of,” Forsythe noted.

Another upcoming podcast will bring a human touch on the heritage CN Station in Fort Langley. He’ll talk with Diane Simpson, whose father was the last station agent there: “She grew up at stations like it on the Prairies, and she’s a keen volunteer who goes down to the station and talks about that history with people.”

Forsythe feels the material available to him is endless.

“There’s no shortage of different historical angles to tap into,” he said. “I think there is a Fraser Valley identity, and it’s been there a long time.”

Forsythe’s Valley Voices is recorded and aired on the first Wednesday of every month, then repeated subsequent Wednesdays during that month at about 11 a.m. on CIVL 101.7 FM.

Anyone with suggestions for aspects of Langley and Fraser Valley history that they’d like to hear on Valley Voices can email to: info@langleyheritage.ca.

 

Mark Forsythe on his last day as a CBC broadcaster.

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