The CN Rail lines being laid through Langley in 1911. The tracks would cut through the properties now needed for the Trans Mountain right of way. (Langley Centennial Museum collection)

The CN Rail lines being laid through Langley in 1911. The tracks would cut through the properties now needed for the Trans Mountain right of way. (Langley Centennial Museum collection)

Heirs of long-dead Langley landowner could cash in from pipeline construction

Trans Mountain is offering six figures for access to a worthless lot in Walnut Grove

If you’re the heir of deceased millionaire James C. Kavanagh, the Trans Mountain pipeline project wants to pay you $336,000 for access to an essentially worthless piece of land in Langley.

On Thursday, Trans Mountain advertised again looking for the heirs of Kavanagh, who died in 1922 owning legal title to a few slivers of land in Langley that had been bisected by the Canadian National Railway line that runs through what is now Walnut Grove.

The millionaire hotelier, who made his fortune in Manitoba, bought the land in 1911, the year the CN Rail line that still runs through North Langley was built.

The railway absorbed most of Kavanagh’s land, but it left slivers on either side, and Trans Mountain’s pipeline, which parallels the railway there, needs access to one of those parcels to complete its local work. The project is the controversial expansion of the pipeline, which ships bitumen and oil from Alberta to a refinery and shipping port in Burnaby.

Trans Mountain launched an international search in 2019 for Kavanagh’s heirs, searching archives from Langley to California to Connecticut.

The narrow lots on either side of the railroad tracks should have been taken over by Langley Township years ago, as no one has been available to pay property taxes. But they were mistakenly left off provincial land surveys several decades back, and were only “rediscovered” a few years ago.

The two lots were assessed as being worth $9,000 for the larger, and just $200 for the smaller one in 2019.

READ MORE: Mystery heirs still sought for Langley land standing in pipeline’s path

READ MORE: Langley’s tiniest lots include land just for garbage, and a pioneer cemetery

Kavanagh had relocated with his family to California shortly after the Langley land transaction, and his daughters continued to live in the U.S., and it is believed their descendants did as well.

On Sept. 17, Trans Mountain published a notice saying they will apply for the right to enter the property without locating the heirs.

However, if they can locate the heir and owner of the land, Trans Mountain is prepared to pay the owner $336,000 for the right of way.

Trans Mountain will make its application to access the site on Nov. 1, petitioning the Canada Energy Regulator for the access.


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Estate planningLangleyTrans Mountain pipeline