Doris Riedweg, Donna Barwish and Kate Ludlam are on the Langley Memorial Hospital Heritage Committee which now has the lost copies of the Hospital on the Hill. (Heather Colpitts/Langley Advance)

Books created to prevent loss of Langley’s hospital history end up lost

More than 440 books printed back in the 1990s went missing and have recently been found.

Back in the 1990s, people at the hospital were concerned about the history of Langley Memorial Hospital being lost so they wrote a history book.

The book, Hospital on the Hill, had a print run of 2,000 but more than one quarter of them ended up lost to history. That is until recently.

The missing 448 books have been found, hidden in their original boxes in the store area at the hospital. The volunteers who created the book had searched over the years.

“They were hiding behind some old boxes,” said Doris Riedweg, the book’s editor and a longtime local nurse.

A staff member moved around some items while searching for something and stumbled on the books. Instead of ignoring what she found, she contacted the Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation which has connections with the Langley Memorial Hospital Heritage Committee which published Hospital on the Hill.

Breaking the news was Kate Ludlam, with the Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation and the heritage committee.

“When I called to tell her [Doris], I made sure to tell her to sit down,” she said.

As the hospital’s 50th anniversary approached in the late 1990s, the Langley Hospital Society agreed to loan the heritage committee $30,000 to research, write and publish the book. The book was launched and sold at various places around the community. The profits were earmarked for the hospital but after expenses were covered.

“We paid back the loan that we got from the hospital society,” Riedweg said.

With one quarter of the books missing, there wasn’t lots for charity.

The committee of volunteers had spent hours upon hours poring through hospital board minutes and other old records to amass the information. They also fielded calls from many people with anecdotes about their time at the hospital, as either staff, patients or both.

The result was a book that was more than dates and times. It was a record of a time when the hospital was under a local board and people valued the care offered. It was routine for people to park by the kitchen doors so they could drop off meat or fresh produce for the hospital kitchens.

Shortly before the book launch, the province initiated regional hospital control, taking ownership away from the community.

Riedweg said there have been requests for the books over the years, but the heritage committee had to tell people it was sold out.

“We’re going to start marketing them again,” she added.

The heritage committee approached the Langley Memorial Hospital Auxiliary which will sell the book at its gift shop in the hospital lobby. As well, the auxiliary has its holiday sale of books, jewelry and more on Dec. 4, 5 and 6 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and will allow the book to be sold there. The auxiliary will benefit from any sales it makes.

The heritage committee has also lined up space at the Holly Luncheon at the United Churches of Langley in Murrayville (formerly Sharon United Church, 2016th Street and 48th Avenue). It runs 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1, and features a display of nativities, crafts, carollers, and more.

Langley Memorial HospitalLangley Memorial Hospital FoundationLangley Memorial Hospital Heritage Committee

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Langley Memorial Hospital Heritage Committee members were on hand for the delivery of the hospital history books back in 1997. (Doris Riedweg photo)

The Hospital on the Hill was a local history book launched in the late 1990s. Shortly after, one quarter of the books were lost. They’ve been recently found. (Doris Riedweg photo)

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