Monday, September 18, 2023

All Aboard for Heritage Railway Signs in Langley City

A few years ago, Langley City resident Bruce Downing had an idea to place heritage markers on Grade Crescent to recognize the history of that road as the original railbed for the Vancouver, Victoria and Eastern Railway.

A picture of Langley Prairie’s (Langley City) B.C. Electric Railway "new" station opened July 1928. It was demolished circa 1955. The railway tracks were removed in 1970. Select the image to enlarge.

Mr. Downing presented this idea to the City, but we didn't have a heritage committee then, so the City upgraded the mandate of our Arts, Culture, & Recreation Committee to the Arts, Culture, Recreation & Heritage Committee.

With the additional help of Henry Ewert and Graham MacDonell, Mr. Downing and the committee worked on what has now turned into the Heritage Railway Project.

An example of the heritage railway signs.

Last Monday, Langley City Council approved installing signs at six locations in our community as shown on the following map.

A map showing the locations where the City will install the heritage railway signs. Select the map to enlarge.

The following shows an example of the Vancouver, Victoria and Eastern Railway wording.

Grade Crescent is aptly named as it is laid on the original “grade” of the Vancouver, Victoria, and Eastern Railway (V.V.& E.) line.
Chartered in 1897, this railway operated between the Lower Mainland and B.C.’s Kootenay-Boundary region. The V.V.& E. operated through Langley from 1908 to 1933. It was a passenger and freight line with an emphasis on long-distance rather than local service and it often transported logs to sawmills. The railway had a limited impact within Langley Prairie as there were no stations located here. The closest V.V.& E. stations were Cloverdale Station and Lincoln Station (Benz Crescent, Township of Langley). The arrival of the BC Electric Railway in 1910 had a more profound impact on Langley Prairie which became Langley City in 1955.
Parts of the V.V.& E. right-of-way were purchased for municipal roads in 1934 at a cost of $240. The following roads follow the original railbed. (with some minor realignments).
These include:
  • Colebrook Road / 50 Avenue (between 192 Street and 200 Street)
  • Grade Crescent
  • 47 Avenue east of 208 Street
There was also a spur line on Grade Crescent near 208 Street which was used for housing logs on railcars that supplied the adjacent Federal Lumber Company (1918 – 1924)

The next shows an example of one of the texts for the British Columbia Electric Railway Interurban sign, which the City will install by Brydon Lagoon.

Langley City was initially connected to the rest of the region by two railways. They were the B.C. Electric Railway and the Vancouver, Victoria and Eastern Railway (V.V. & E.). These railways carried both passengers and freight. This path follows the old rail bed of the B.C. Electric Railway.
It operated its passenger interurban service in Langley between 1910 and 1950. The railway helped fuel the growth of Langley City. It was hydroelectric-powered and provided transportation from Vancouver, all the way to Chilliwack by October 1910.
The railway ran to the west on the south side of Brydon Lagoon to 192 Street where Anderson Station stood. To the east, the railway followed what is now Baldi Creek Trail. It ran to Hunter Station at what is now the intersection of 200 Street and Michaud Crescent. From Hunter Station, it followed the north side of Michaud Crescent to Langley Prairie Station. That station is now the location of Timms Community Centre. Leaving Langley Prairie Station the tracks headed northeast along Glover Road.
Slowly, with better roads and an increase in cars and trucks, the railway became uneconomical. The ending of service on September 30, 1950, was marked by a large ceremony attended by politicians from the communities served by the railway. The tracks were removed in the early 1980s and this walking path was established.

The signs will have QR codes directing people to a web page with more historical information. If you would like to learn more about the historic railways in Langley City, please read NEIGHBOURHOOD HISTORY - THE RAILWAYS.

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