Langley honours preservation of heritage

Langley Township is a community built on history. Incorporated in 1873 and known as the Birthplace of B.C., the Township has a significant store of heritage resources.

Each year the municipality recognizes people in the community who take steps to preserve, restore, or adapt the heritage sites that provide a valuable link to Langley’s past.

Earlier this year, on National Heritage Day, Township council presented Community Heritage Register Plaques to the owners of the Murrayville Garage, the James Shortreed Residence in Aldergrove, and the Coronation Block in Fort Langley.

“This is the start of Heritage Week, which is celebrated around our province each year,” said Township Mayor Jack Froese. “It is the perfect time to recognize our heritage buildings and historic places, and the people who work so hard to ensure they continue to enrich our community.”

The Community Heritage Register Plaque Program was created in 2010 to recognize the commitment that owners of heritage buildings make to ensure the continued use of their structures. To be eligible, buildings must be on the Township Community Heritage Register.

One of this year’s recipients was Rick Kirby, chair of the West Coast Montessori Society, who converted a turn of the century blacksmith shop into a place where children can grow and learn today. Built on Old Yale Road west of Five Corners, the Murrayville Garage served one of the Township’s earliest settlements in a number of capacities for more than 100 years.

Constructed in the early 1900s as a blacksmith shop and carriage works, it became a service station and an International Harvester farm machinery dealership until the 1950s, reflecting the transportation and agricultural changes the area experienced at the time. It was later rehabilitated for commercial use and even served as a chocolate factory before being acquired by the West Coast Montessori Society and transformed into the Langley Montessori School.

Another plaque was presented to Breanna Statler and Derek Crowie in recognition of the work that went into restoring and repairing one of the few remaining heritage structures in Aldergrove and enhancing its landmark status.

Built in the 1920s, the James Shortreed Residence was commissioned by a pioneering family that played a pivotal role in settling in the Aldergrove area. Originally constructed on 26B Avenue with material produced in local mills, the wood-frame house with corner porches and cross-gabled roof has been moved to 272A Street and substantially remains in its original condition.

Coronation Block owner Suzanne Northcott also received a plaque from Council for the extensive work she has done to the unique commercial building in Fort Langley. Built on Glover Road in 1911, it was named in reference to the crowning of King George the Fifth of England, who ascended to the throne in 1910.

The Coronation Block is significant because of its architecture and association with the Hope family, who contributed to the growth of Fort Langley through their entrepreneurial achievements. The design of the building is attributed to Charles Edward Hope who arrived from England the year after the Dominion was spanned by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1889. He was one of the few trained architects working in Vancouver in the period after the city’s Great Fire and produced his finest architectural designs in Fort Langley, including his family’s estate home.

All three of the recognized projects were also supported by the Heritage Building Incentive Program, which assists with the cost of restoring, repairing, and maintaining eligible heritage buildings within the Township of Langley. Grants are available to property owners of heritage buildings included in the Township’s Inventory of Heritage Resources. 

The grant program is administered on an annual basis. Applications forms are available online at tol.ca/hbip.

A current project that is underway that has received support from the Township’s Heritage Building Incentive Program is the restoration of the Hope Carriage House in Fort Langley. Built in 1912, it is the last remaining building from the Charles Edward Hope’s estate and the only remaining large-scale carriage house in the Langley area. It accommodated the horses and carriages that connected with the Great Northern Railway Station at Port Kells and the upper level was used for feed storage and to house a caretaker and gardener.

Located behind the Fort Langley Community Hall, the heritage building is currently being repaired and restored by its owners in partnership with Lanstone Homes, a company that is constructing the adjacent McBride Station infill housing development.

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