Fronting the Fraser River to the north and Washington State to the south, Langley is located in the geographic centre of the Lower mainland, nestled between Surrey to the west and Abbotsford and the lush farmland of the Fraser Valley to the east. From Vancouver, it’s less than an hour’s drive east along Highway 1 or via Highway 7. Take a short trip across the Fraser River on the Albion Ferry which enables motorists to make a direct connection between Highway 7 on the north shore and Highway 1 on the south.
Named after Thomas Langley, a prominent Hudson’s Bay Company director, Langley is considered to be the official birthplace of British Columbia. The colony of B.C was originally proclaimed here, at Fort Langley, although the capital moved from here to New Westminster, before finally settling at Victoria on Vancouver Island.
The valley land between the Fraser River and the Canada-US border ripples away like the wake behind a troller. Early settlers didn’t have an easy go of it; the land was boggy and thick with mosquitoes in summer. But having come this far, they dug in, cleared the trees, farmed the land, and, in season, hunted and fished for wild game. You can still get a scent of those years as you pedal the backroads along the border of Surrey and Langley.
In the 1830s, the Hudson’s Bay Company began to develop and farm approximately 810 hectares of land in the area known as Langley Prairie. Today, Langley has almost 40 percent of the total agricultural land in the Fraser Valley, giving agriculture a major role in the economy of the region. With more farms than any other municipality in BC, Langley has the largest number of horse farms, the largest number of rabbit farms, the most sheep, and almost half of the mushroom farms in the province.
Without a doubt, the most interesting and popular attraction in the Langley area is the Fort Langley National Historic site . The fort, preserved and restored to its original 1850s’ condition, is a gateway to British Columbia’s early history. Visit the lovingly restored buildings of Fort Langley in the summer months, when the park’s staff, dressed in period costumes of the era, go about their business blacksmithing, churning butter and making wagon wheels.
Visitors exploring the Langley Centennial Museum, one of the oldest community museums in British Columbia, will see examples of pre-contact life among the Coast Salish people, as well as early settler exhibits. Next-door is the British Farm Machinery and Agricultural Museum – a fine location considering the first farm developed in the Lower Mainland of BC was at Fort Langley.
Though never short on ambition, some of the pioneer’s optimistic dreams remained just that: a cairn near the corner of Telegraph Trail and Glover commemorates the massive yet futile 1860s’ effort to build a telegraph system stretching from North America to Europe, via British Columbia, Alaska, and Siberia.
Historians interested in aviation should visit the Canadian Museum of Flight and Transportation, located at the Langley Municipal Airport. On display is a restored original DC-3 Dakota plane used in the 1950s by the Queen Charlotte Airlines, and a Canadair CF-104 Starfighter, referred to as the Missile with a man in it courtesy of its maximum speed of mach 2 – twice the speed of sound.
The Wark-Dumas House was home to two well-known Langley families. The house, the core structure of which was built in 1890, was restored by the Langley Heritage Society in 1987, and since then has become a focal point for the Kwantlen College Langley Campus.
Relive the romance and excitement of the wild west gold rush with a visit to the landmark Traveller’s Hotel, built in 1887 by Billy Murray on “Murray’s Corner”, about a mile southeast of Langley on Old Yale Road. The hotel has been in continual use for over 110 years, meeting the needs of weary travellers as they journeyed up the Fraser Valley. Miners, merchants, missionaries, high court judges, and even premiers all stayed in these historic roadhouse hotels that dotted the route to the goldfields in the 1800s. Notorious train robber Billy Miner stayed here the night before robbing the Canadian Pacific Railway of over $8,000 in gold nuggets in Canada’s first great train robbery!
The City of Langley has designated the Nicomekl River Floodplain as parkland, with a network of walking trails winding along the Nicomekl River, leading to many of the city’s parks.
Sendall Gardens features nearly four acres of beautiful and unique plants, shrubs, trees and exotic birds, a long-standing and popular venue for wedding photographs.
Agriculture plays an important role in the economy of Langley, and local farms offer outstanding products with Country Style hospitality and charm. Be sure to enjoy a unique visit to one of the many country stores, nurseries, orchards, or herb, blueberry or vegetable farms in the area. An old-fashioned Market In The Park featuring only BC grown and produced products operates on Saturdays in beautiful Douglas Park in June, July and August.
Three Hot Air Balloon companies operate from Langley’s Municipal Airport, offering services that range from one-and-a-half hour champagne tours to short tethered rides at special events.
Llamas and their smaller Alpaca cousins are a growing part of the agricultural industry in Langley, with around 35 farms raising a total of over 400 of these South American pack animals. Llamas are used mainly by hikers on foot, who carry lead lines and let the animals carry the supplies – up to 25 to 33 percent of their body weight. Their soft feet don’t chew up trails like hoofed animals do. A number of the llama farms offer farm visits – check at the Visitor Centre for more information.
Go Wild…go to the Zoo! Enjoy an affordable and enjoyable family outing to the Greater Vancouver Zoological Centre, in 264th Street in Aldergrove. Enter the fascinating world of over 200 species of wild animals, including lions, tigers, bears, rhino, giraffe and more. Set on 120 scenic acres of lush farmland and forests, attractions include a children’s play area, the Safari Express Train, the North American Wilds Safari Bus Tour and beautiful picnic grounds.
Across the Fraser River from the entrance of Kanaka Creek, Edgewater Bar in Derby Reach Regional Park is a big attraction to anglers of all ages who come to set their lines for salmon and watch the Fraser River flow by. Fishing bars that were once prevalent along the Fraser have more recently been usurped by log booms, which makes Edgewater even more valuable. What gives this park top billing are the squares of melmac inlaid at the corner of each picnic table. This is the officially sanctioned place to clean your salmon. Just the sight of it raises one’s hopes.
Throughout the 1990s, the municipality of Langley has been one of the leaders in the Fraser Valley when it comes to developing trails for cycling and in-line skating: the Langley Bike and Rollerblade Trails. In many places you’ll find generous, paved shoulders on both the backroads and some of the principal routes that lead through this largely rural environment. Several routes lead from Fort Langley and Aldergrove Lake Regional Park.
Golf: Langley offers a number of golfing options: Newlands Golf & Racquet Club is a challenging 18-hole, par-72 championship golf course featuring tree-lined fairways, extensive rock walls, and some of the Fraser Valley’s most memorable golf holes; Tall Timbers Golf Course is a family owned and operated 18-hole public golf course that has been serving golfers of any age in the Langley area for over 20 years; The Redwoods Golf Course provides the effect of playing golf in a forest. The canopy of trees have created a natural reverb chamber, amplifying the song of the over sixty species of birds that call the course home (18 holes, par 71, 6,162 yards); and Belmont Golf Course offers excellent year-round course conditions and may be enjoyed by golfers of all levels of ability. Set in the tranquil serenity of the Fraser Valley, Belmont plays to a par 70 at 6,416 yards from the championship blue tees, to as short as 4,951 yards from the gold tees (18 Holes, par 70). Vancouver Golf Vacations.
The Horseback Riding paths in Campbell Valley Regional Park are located east of 200th Street in Langley. Before this was parkland, Langley riders maintained the bridle trails that run east towards Aldergrove. Since September 1979, when the GVRD took control of the 2-square-mile (535-hectare) valley, these trails have come into greater public use. Today, Campbell Valley Regional Park is one of the easiest places for visitors to satisfy a desire to ride a horse. The Shaggy Mane Trail, which rings the park, runs 6.8 miles (11 km), an easy two-hour ride. Since riders often encounter park visitors who are exploring the trails on foot, they must be escorted for the first several visits. Once riders qualify, however, they can set out on their own.
One of the best picnic sites in the south Fraser Valley is located at Campbell Valley Regional Park in Langley, where an unspoken welcome permeates the atmosphere. Eat a little, explore a little, eat a little more – you know the routine. Choose from any of three tabled sites or simply bring a blanket and spread yourself beneath the arms of the Hanging Tree, an imposing bigleaf maple in the valley bottom beside the Little River Loop Trail. Picnic tables and toilets are located at the North Valley and South Valley entrances, as well as at the Campbell Valley Downs Equestrian Centre. You can lose yourself without getting lost on the park’s miles of walking trails. The landscape here is so welcoming that you won’t feel isolated or alone. At every twist and turn along the pathway, a bird will call, a squirrel will chatter, and fellow walkers will offer a smile. Little Campbell River bubbles along its meandering course. Follow the 1.4-mile (2.3-km) Little River Loop Trail through the meadows and forested slopes of the valley bottom. Pause at the Listening Bridge to listen. Spend an hour or more exploring the gentle contours of the park along the Ravine Trail, where former owners once farmed. Wander around the Annand/Rowlatt farmstead, whose sturdy barns, sheds, chicken coops, and home have all been well maintained. Peek in the windows of the old, one-room Lochiel Schoolhouse nearby that’s been relocated to the park. For a longer stroll, follow a portion of the Shaggy Mane Trail that makes a grand 8.7-mile (14-km) sweep around the park’s perimeter.
Derby Reach Regional Park near Fort Langley is the only Greater Vancouver Regional Park that offers overnight vehicle/tent camping. The riverfront sites here are allocated on a first-come basis. Wander the deeply shaded trails, walk fields once farmed by pioneers, or imagine the bustle of a trading post while standing on the original townsite of Fort Langley, the oldest continuously settled European community in British Columbia. Tall black cottonwoods shelter the campsites and support the nests of a colony of blue herons. There are group campgrounds at several other locations such as Deas Island and Campbell Valley.
Don’t miss a 30-year tradition at the Langley Country Style Days, on the third Saturday in June, a celebration of Langley’s rural heritage, featuring a country parade, music and other live entertainment.
For one entire day the downtown business core of Langley City is transformed into a huge artist’s studio for Arts Alive. Held on the third Saturday in August, the celebration of art features an Artwalk and many other entertaining festivities.
Langley Circle Farm Tour: Romance, repast, and regalement are the three R’s on this tour. Wine, roses and equestrian ballet are just a few of Langley’s claims to fame. Enjoy French cuisine, tasty take-away, or a picnic basket filled with fresh pies, juicy berries, and smoked sausage. Sample classic grape vintages and award-winning fruit wines, then stroll through two beautiful display gardens featuring roses and unusual trees. Bring the kids to see the rare Suri alpacas, pick pumpkins, slurp up a nutritious berry milkshake, and experience a real hands-on farm adventure. Check with the Visitor Centre for more details.
East of Langley is Aldergrove, which takes its name from the lush growth of alder trees in the area, although fields upon fields of farmland attest to the growth of more than just trees. Like neighbouring Abbotsford, Aldergrove is also home to vast crops of strawberries and raspberries.
West of Langley is the town of Surrey , the second-largest municipality in British Columbia and the ninth largest city in Canada. Surrounded by lush green fields, quiet forest trails, and over eighty spacious parks, Surrey certainly earns its motto as The City of Parks.
Circle Tours: See the best of the area on a driving Circle Tour. Head north out of Vancouver for the scenic Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island Circle Tour, or stay on the intensely scenic Sea to Sky Highway, passing through the magical winter resort town of Whistler and Coast Mountains Circle Tour. To explore the rural farmlands and forests of the fertile Fraser Valley, take the Fraser Valley Circle Tour, travelling outbound on the scenic route north of the historic Fraser River, returning westwards along the Trans Canada Highway 1 to Vancouver. Circle Tours in British Columbia.