Like much of western Canada, Langley, BC was a farming community and pioneer outpost long before it became a popular community in the sought after Fraser Valley. In fact, many of the families that still call this small city on the southern mainland of BC home can trace at least some of their roots back to early settlers. Here’s the short version of the story of Langley.
Like much of western Canada, when the first immigrant settlers arrive from eastern Canada and Europe, they found first nations people already using the verdant valley along the Fraser River for hunting, fishing and trading with coastal tribes.
In 1827, the Hudson’s Bay Company, which was the company behind much of the pioneering in the west, set up what would become Fort Langley as a trading post in what is today Derby Reach National Park. The fort was primarily involved in trading fur and salmon with the locals, and in the years that the fort was in that position, many HBC employees also married local women and set up farms.
The fort remained in its initial position until 1839, when it was moved further upriver, subsequently burned down less than a year later, and was rebuilt on the same spot, where it has stayed ever since.
In the early days, Fort Langley and the settlement around it were very much an outpost in the wilderness, but when gold was discovered in the Fraser River in 1858, it became a very big deal. So big, in fact, that Queen Victoria and her parliament declared it a colony, and the first governor took up residence in November of the same year.
Boom and Bust
All good things must come to an end, and the boom in Langley was over almost as suddenly as it had begun. Trade slowed down, gold fever waned, and by the time 1886 rolled around, all of the frantic activity in Langley was over. Fortunately, however, places like Langley had entrenched the west coast as a part of Canada, and people had already put down roots. The rush to reach Langley might have been over, but the people who had settled there weren’t going anywhere.
In 1925, not long after the gold rush had come and gone in Langley, the significance of the town was commemorated with a plaque, and thirty years later, it was designated a historic site. Ever since then, much of Langley’s riches have been in tourism, with 60,000 visitors per year visiting this charming little city on the lower mainland.
Of course, because of its location and the climate in southern British Columbia, while the gold rush is over, the agricultural rush never ended, and Langley is also home to farms producing everything from beef to cranberries, and of course, horses, which is another thing Langley is famous for today.
The Highway, Industry and More
For much of western Canada, it wasn’t until the 1960s and the completion of the TransCanada highway that cities and towns became industrial hubs. In Langley, it’s tech companies, culinary industry, wineries and tourism. Golf courses, wine tours, horse trails and more have created a tourism boom, and this is a fantastic place to visit if you want a little bit of everything.
Like much of western Canada, Langley has a long and interesting history of pioneers and aboriginal tribes, gold rushes, fur traders, trappers and the Canadian wild west. Combine that with the small town feeling, the arts, crafts and food that make Langley a great place to call your home, and the proximity to big cities, and it’s no surprise that this little town in the Fraser Valley is such a memorable place to visit.