Frank Bucholtz/Special to the Aldergrove Star
The latest addition to the Alder Grove Heritage Society’s growing collection are records and artifacts from the Aldergrove Agricultural Association.
Some of these were on display at the third annual community heritage days event held at the museum on Saturday, prompting a lot of interest from visitors.
They were collected over the years by the late Tina Nikkel, who was a longtime active member of the association, including serving as president. She passed away in January at the age of 88.
Prior to her death, she had specified that the records and other artifacts were to go to the heritage society, and the open house offered the first opportunity for them to be seen by the public.
Included in the collection are accounts of the founding of the association in 1912 and of the very first fair held on Sept. 19, 1912. Trophies presented to winners of various classes at the fair were also donated.
There is also a chair from the Agricultural Hall, which was built on what is now Fraser Highway at the west end of the Aldergrove town centre in 1923. It was in use until 1961, when the association sold it and the land it stood on. Aldergrove’s fire hall also stood on the property for many years. The building was eventually moved to the Department of National Defence property on 272nd Street and remains in use as a cadet hall.
The agricultural hall was a key ingredient in community activities in Aldergrove for many years. It was used by a wide variety of groups from the Scandinavian committee to the Socialist Party. It was used for basketball games, dances and other activities as well.
In the 1940s, the association played an instrumental role in helping purchase land and establishing Aldergrove Park, which is now Philip Jackman Park. In 1951, the association had three separate operating committees: the fair board, the park board and the agricultural hall board.
In the 1960s, the association was ready to transfer to the Township a portion of its park property so that a swimming pool could be built. In 1963, the association passed a motion stating that it would pay the Township a sum not exceeding $3,000 for the proposed pool to be expanded to 20 feet by 50 feet to 30 feet by 50 feet. An outdoor pool was built but later was filled in. It is now a spray park.
In 1964, the park was deeded to the Township.
The association continued in operation until the 1990s, and was eventually wound into Aldergrove Festival Days Society. The successor organization to that group now runs the fair, which continues to be a popular summertime event in Aldergrove right to the present – 110 years after the first one was held.
The society is a small but active group and regularly promotes heritage in the community. It has a significant collection of valuable documents and artifacts related to Aldergrove. In recent years, these have attracted interest from people interested in their family history.
At the open house, several visitors inquired about donating items to the society’s collection.
The society is busy digitizing as much of its collection as possible, although it takes time, as it is all done on a volunteer basis. New members are always welcome, and younger people with an interest in the history of the community would be especially welcomed, says president Tami Quiring.
Digitization of the agricultural association collection is already underway. The society also has a complete collection of microfilmed copies of the Aldergrove Star from 1957 to 1991, and is seeking financial assistance to photograph and digitize the last 10 years that The Star was owned by the Langmann family, as those years are not on microfilm. The Langmanns donated the microfilms and over 50,000 photos from The Star to the society.
The open house featured displays from the Abbotsford Spinners & Weavers Guild and the Langley Spinners & Weavers Guild, a display and items for sale from the Waceya Métis Society, dancing, crafts and a food truck operated by the Navy Cadets.
The museum, open on Sundays from 12 to 4 p.m., is at 3190 271st St., across from Philip Jackman Park. Its local history is housed in a heritage building which was the former B.C. Telephone Co. office. To contact the society, see its Facebook or Instagram pages, email it at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 604-857-0555 and leave a message.
The loss of a community booster:
Tina Nikkel passed away on Jan. 24, 2022, at the age of 88.
She may have been the most important factor in the Aldergrove Fair lasting for 110 years, and continuing to be a popular attraction today.
The most recent fair was held on July 14 to 17.
She and her husband, Jim, owned a farm at Lefeuvre Road and Fraser Highway, raising chickens, cattle and raspberries. Jim ran a firm which manufactured and serviced berry harvesting machines.
Tina joined the Aldergrove Agricultural Association in 1976, initially as a member, but later served on the executive and as president.
She fought for the fair to be given a permanent home, as the association had donated its previous grounds to the Township in the 1960s. She championed Fall Fair Awareness Days, set up agricultural displays at Aldergrove Mall, and invited various community groups to showcase their talents. She regularly solicited donations for the fair.
She also advocated for Aldergrove to be treated properly by the Township of Langley, and could also be found at other fairs such as the Abbotsford Agrifair, where she helped revive the arts and crafts section.
A poster about her very active life at the museum open house Saturday, Aug. 13, said “she kept the Aldergrove Agricultural Association alive during the lean years.”
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