Woodworker honours Alder Inn with mural made from reclaimed lumber

Woodworker Wally Martin used lumber from the former Alder Inn to craft a mural that honours the buildings history. (Ryan Uytdewilligen/The Star)Woodworker Wally Martin used lumber from the former Alder Inn to craft a mural that honours the buildings history. (Ryan Uytdewilligen/The Star)
Woodworker Wally Martin used lumber from the former Alder Inn to craft a mural that honours the buildings history. (Ryan Uytdewilligen/The Star)Woodworker Wally Martin used lumber from the former Alder Inn to craft a mural that honours the buildings history. (Ryan Uytdewilligen/The Star)
Woodworker Wally Martin used lumber from the former Alder Inn to craft a mural that honours the buildings history. (Ryan Uytdewilligen/The Star)Woodworker Wally Martin used lumber from the former Alder Inn to craft a mural that honours the buildings history. (Ryan Uytdewilligen/The Star)
Woodworker Wally Martin used lumber from the former Alder Inn to craft a mural that honours the buildings history. (Ryan Uytdewilligen/The Star)Woodworker Wally Martin used lumber from the former Alder Inn to craft a mural that honours the buildings history. (Ryan Uytdewilligen/The Star)

The Alder Inn stands again… sort of.

After the longstanding structure was demolished in November 2020, local woodworker and owner of Princess and the Pea Bed and Breakfast Wally Martin got straight to work.

The Murrayville resident made a couple calls to the Township of Langley to try and secure a few pieces, learning the lumber would be sent to Western Reclaimed Timber in Maple Ridge.

Months of teaming up with artist Jackie Knauer resulted in a unique peice of artwork that captures a long-gone era when the hotel was a significant fixture in the community.

“We used four original photos of the hotel as inspiration,” Martin explained. “It was such a great looking building. I loved the look – particularly, and you’ll see it in the work, the curved entrance.”

Though the hotel was originally built in the 1940s, the photos capture the building’s design during the early-1950s – complete with vehicles out front and a sign that provides directions to the urban epicentres of the day, including Langley.

“Back in those days, Fraser Highway would be bumper to bumper and wouldn’t move,” he explained, noting the Alder Inn’s primary existence was to provide a break for weary drivers.

Ultimately, Martin glued six pieces of restored wood together and got Knauer to laser on the image.

“When wood ages it gets stiffer, harder, denser, and darker,” Martin explained. “These qualities are all important when building furniture.”

READ MORE: Alder Inn goes from hotel to coffee table

Martin said after the seven decades that the Alder Inn had been standing, the wood was twisted and formed into the perfect conditions.

He pointed out remnants of old nails are visible on the back.

“Every woodworker in Canada is jealous,” he assured, calling the Douglas Fir the “Ferrari of wood.”

The municipality spent $5.4-million to purchase the hotel as well as two neighbouring lots in 2019. A plaza designated for community gatherings and events is temporarily utilizing the space.

MWL Demolition Ltd. stripped away the building at Fraser Highway and 272nd in a matter of days.

Martin admitted his reasoning behind the creation in the first place was a bit of a tongue-and-cheek dig towards Township council.

“More than 97 per cent of that wood was thrown in the chipper. I get passionate about these things, and I’m certainly not happy about that outcome,” he noted.

Martin doesn’t know what he’ll do with the design, but is proud that it exists to pay tribute to local history.

It will hang in his workshop until he figures out what to do, and plans to possibly unveil it to the public at the Aldergrove Plaza later on in the year.


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