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New park named after Glen Valley pioneer

A newly created municipal park has been named after a pioneer who lived off the land in Glen Valley and helped lay the foundation for the burgeoning Township of Langley.

Over 25 acres of wooded land on 84 Avenue between 252 and 254 Streets was officially named McLellan Forest Natural Park by Township of Langley Council. Mayor Jack Froese made the announcement at Council’s March 3 meeting.

“This place holds special significance for many of our residents and it is fitting that it be named after the man and the family who first called the area home,” he said. “McLellan Forest Natural Park is a beautiful spot that holds great environmental value and will be enjoyed by the public for many generations to come.”

Historical records show that John Fred McLellan acquired the lands immediately north of the park site in 1884. The McLellan farm was located near 256 (Coghlan) Street and River Road.

John F. McLellan’s direct descendent, great great grandson Greg McLellan, who still lives in Glen Valley, was contacted by the Township and provided valuable written and anecdotal family history about his ancestor’s life in Glen Valley.

Born in Scottsville, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia in 1860, John F. McLellan moved west in 1878. A construction man, he helped build many of the community’s roads and bridges in the early days of Langley’s settlement. John F. McLellan died on July 2, 1940 at the age of 80 years, but his descendants continued to farm in Glen Valley and became involved with the fishing industry on the shores of the Fraser River.

“This is a community that values its history and heritage, and we are pleased that John F. McLellan’s name and the contributions he made to Langley will be commemorated in this park,” Froese said.

McLellan Forest Natural Park had previously been known as McLellan Forest West, and was one of two Glen Valley properties that were put up for sale by Township Council in 2012. Members of the community made it clear they didn’t want the properties to be sold, due to their lush beauty and environmental significance, and Council decided in the fall of 2013 to preserve McLellan Forest as a municipal natural park.

Plans to provide future public access to the park and protect the existing natural assets will be developed by the Parks Department over 2014, with input from local stakeholder groups. Operating budgets to manage the new natural park will also be established.

The second Glen Valley property, known as the Gray Pit Lands, was purchased by Trinity Western University for use as a conservation area, thanks to a generous donation from Ann Blaauw and her family. The property was named after Ann’s late husband Thomas and has been preserved for public use, education, and research.

“In the past few months, more than 50 acres of new parkland has been created in northeast Langley,” Froese said. “Being able to access these forests, trails, and parkland in Glen Valley has created a wonderful legacy.”

Unveiling of signage in McLellan Forest Natural Park will take place later this year.

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