A large memorial stone honouring the memory of the late Thomas Blaauw has been positioned at the 257A Street entrance to the trail that runs through the Glen Valley forest.
It will soon bear a message that remembers the local farmer who passed away in 2012 as a “loving husband, father and grandfather, forever loved – forever missed.”
The engraving will include a short poem that reads in part, “A good life, a simple life, that’s what he led./He’d struggled like most, but came out ahead.”
A hundred yards down the trail, another memorial has been placed, a bench for visitors to rest on.
At the Tuesday afternoon ribbon-cutting ceremony to dedicate the 25-acre parcel of land as a public forest preserve, the entire Blaauw family was there; wife Ann Blaauw and children John, Janet, and Jennifer.
Janet spoke for the family, explaining why they chose to make the donation that allowed Trinity Western University to make the $2.5 million purchase.
“He [my father] loved the green space, the trees, the animals, the trails. He would always remark and say what a nice piece of property,” she said. “He would just love to have that piece of property, but it was never for sale.”
As her mother stood by her side, Janet looked up at the sky for a second.
“Dad, here’s that property you always wanted,” she said.
About 100 people attended the dedication.
Township Mayor Jack Froese praised the family’s decision, saying the gift of land was “extremely special.”
Under the terms of the agreement between the university and the Township, the woods will be preserved for environmental research, education, and recreational purposes.
A restrictive covenant only allows buildings that “enhance the use of the conservation area on the property.”
Trinity Western interim president Bob Kuhn said the gift is a legacy for future generations.
“I’m very grateful for this inspiring gift that the Blaauw family has chosen to give,” Kuhn said.
The 25 acres were placed on the market by the Township in January of this year to help fund a new community centre, swimming pool and ice rink in Aldergrove.
It was the Township’s second attempt at selling land in Glen Valley after a plan to market 21 acres of Township-owned forest on 84 Avenue between 252 and 254 Streets was cancelled in July of 2012 because of a campaign by Watchers of Langley Forests (WOLF), a residents’ group that has been campaigning to preserve the entire forest region.
WOLF members did not speak at the ceremony, but many attended the event.
Speaking for WOLF, Kirk Robertson told The Times the residents were pleased with the outcome.
“Thanks to the generosity of the Blaauw family a very long fight to save this forest has reached its, I think, final chapter,” Robertson said.