A Langley Times newspaper clipping of Brookswood Secondary students building toys for Langley Christmas Bureau families. Published Dec. 19, 1987. (Langley Advance Times files)

A Langley Times newspaper clipping of Brookswood Secondary students building toys for Langley Christmas Bureau families. Published Dec. 19, 1987. (Langley Advance Times files)

Beginnings of Langley Christmas Bureau unclear

A look back at a Langley holiday institution

Langley Christmas Bureau has been a perennial in the community, but the origin story of the local charity remains a bit of a mystery.

Although the local bureau wasn’t founded by Iris Mooney, the Langley Memorial Hospital nurse and Langley City alderman was the earliest coordinator some members of the community could recall.

Langley Advance Times spoke with City councillor and former bureau volunteer Gayle Martin, former City mayor Marlene Grinnell, one-time coordinator and former City fire chief Jim McGregor, local historian Warren Sommer and long-time bureau volunteer Sylvia Anderson about what they remembered about its early days.

Anderson said she started volunteering with the Langley bureau when she first moved to the community in 1971.

She recalls Mooney leading the volunteer-run charity operating out of the old Langley City hall at the time.

“[She was] very proactive and way ahead of her time,” Anderson noted about Mooney’s work ethic.

READ MORE: Iris Mooney passes away

It is not known when Mooney retired from the position or who took on the role after her, but a 1982 story from the Langley Advance Times archive refers to Township of Langley alderman Carol Gran as coordinator, who was said to have been preceded by Township alderman Muriel Arnason.

Also from the archive, a 1999 story states “after three years of running things, Ken Bain turned over the reins of Langley Christmas Bureau operations to Joan Chesney.”

In 2006, McGregor said he and Leigh Castron took over coordinating responsibilities from Chesney. The pair went on to run the bureau for 10 years, stepping back from the role just ahead of the 2016 season.

Today, the bureau is lead by Velma MacAllister.

Although many details remain murky, one thing that has remained consistent is the bureau has never had a home-base, according to McGregor.

Ahead of each holiday season the coordinator would work to secure a temporary home where volunteers could collect donations and organize to distribute supplies.

“[We] always looked for a place on a bus route,” said McGregor, noting the importance of being accessible to those in need of the bureau’s support.

Over the years the bureau has taken up space in a former liquor store, Bible store, bank, and Blockbuster, McGregor recalls.

“It would never work without the community and the volunteers,” he said.

Do you have history about the Langley Christmas Bureau to share? Contact us at tips@langleyadvancetimes.com.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

LangleyLangley Christmas BureauLocal History

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cathy Grace, principal of Parkside Centennial, and Susan Cairns, executive director of the Langley School District Foundation, show off a treat donated to the staff with the school mascot. (Ryan Uytdewilligen/Aldergrove Star)
PHOTOS: Leadership program members deliver cake and snacks to Parkside Elementary

$1,250 was raised by the four group members who wanted to help feed hungry students

Peterson, owner of Velocity Cycling in Walnut Grove, said it’s still hard to get enough bikes and parts, more than a year into the pandemic-inspired cycling boom. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Langley bike shops still swamped by would-be riders

It can be months to order a simple new bicycle due to COVID-19

Legion branch 265 president Doug Hadley shows off the green space where food service can continue via outdoor dining. (Ryan Uytdewilligen/Aldergrove Star)
Aldergrove legion branch #265 preparing to open patio dining on back lawn

Branch president Doug Hadley said COVID-19 restriction have hurt clientele

LETTER: Glaciers disappearing faster than in previous decades, Langley student writes

Grade 7 students at Gordon Greenwood Elementary were tasked with writing about climate change.

Pilots from the Canadian Museum of Flight in Langley were unable to take part in the actual Vimy Ridge centennial tribute in France in 2017, and similarly they were grounded today – the 103rd anniversary of the battle. This time due to weather conditions. (Canadian Museum of Flight/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Vimy Ridge flyby tribute just not in the cards?

This time, for a different reason, Canadian Museum of Flight pilots couldn’t take to the air – again

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

Emergency crews on scene after a small plane crashed in a grassy area on the northeast side of Boundary Bay Airport Saturday morning (April 10). A freelancer said the plane caught fire and one person was transported to hospital by BC Emergency Health Services. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
1 taken to hospital after plane crash at Metro Vancouver airport

Plane appears to have suffered ‘significant’ damage, says freelancer

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
Vehicle launched into B.C. Walmart removed following rescue of trapped workers

Crews cut new hole in parkade wall to remove vehicle safely

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Four members with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans were out at Cultus Lake on March 28 and 29 hauling trash out of the waters. (Henry Wang)
PHOTOS: Out-of-town divers remove 100s of pounds of trash from Cultus Lake

Members of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans hauled out 470 pounds of trash over two days

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

The 10-part Netflix series Maid, which is being exclusively shot in Greater Victoria, was filming near Prospect Lake in Saanich last month. (Photo courtesy Fred Haynes)
Province announces $150,000 towards film studio, fulfilling B.C. NDP promise

Investment to fund movie studio feasibility study at Camosun College

Most Read