While it was closed to visitors during the pandemic, Langley Heritage Society volunteers were busy working behind the scenes.
Station Manager Helen Williams said the station freight room has been restored, allowing visitors to learn about the inner workings of the Fort Langley CNR Station, “when agents like Langley’s Richard Simpson were the railway’s eyes and ears, holding what was considered the most influential job in small town Canada when rail was king.
Williams was “delighted” to be open again, explaining that while the the interior was shuttered due to COVID, the exterior grounds were a popular place to visit.
“Despite being closed, many enjoyed the railway garden over the last two years, bringing with them their takeout containers during indoor dining closures, to picnic on the grounds or watch a passing train on the platform,” Williams said.
Volunteers, in their words, are “excited,” “grateful,” “can’t wait,”and “really happy to come back,” Williams reported.
“We’re thrilled to have them return!” Williams told the Langley Advance Times.
“We’ve stayed connected over the health pandemic through emails, phone, and a few educational and fun gatherings, because we’ve become such good friends.”
The Fort Langley train station was built in 1915 by Canadian Northern, two blocks west of its current location on Mavis Avenue at Glover Road.
Built to a standard design, it is one of the few remaining stations like it in western Canada, and the only surviving station from that era in the Langley region.
In 1918, Canadian Northern Railways became part of Canadian National Railways.
Fort Langley’s station was open until the 1980’s, when it was closed for commercial train use, and the heritage society stepped up to move and restore the building.
Now a heritage site, visitors to the station can see tickets in the agent office, goods received and waiting to be shipped to markets, a steamer trunk brought by an immigrant, and more examples of life at the station in the early 1900s and the importance of station agents in the community.
A wooden caboose added next to the station, houses the Glen Valley model railway, staffed by volunteers during summer months.
Starting in June, volunteers will provide guided tours of the railway garden.
Station Master Richard Simpson and his wife Mary established an award-winning garden at Langley Station (as it was called then) from 1917 to 1929.
The gardens are maintained much like the Simpsons did from 1918 to 1929, when annual garden competitions between stations happened up and down the line.
The couple grew 37 varieties of perennials.
Visitors can drop by the reopened station in Fort Langley between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m. on weekends and holiday Mondays, until the Saturday before Thanksgiving on Oct. 8.
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