The charm of Fort Langley
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  Posted September 22nd, 2012 by Zdenko  in Travel | One comment

Travel Canada

By: Zdenko Kahlina

Exploring Fort Langley in the summer of 2012…
British Columbia is full of hidden treasures. Its beauty is found behind old growth trees, at the top of white tipped mountains and within majestic streams that dapple the countryside.

Fort Langley busiest corner

Last September Vera and I have been visiting our friends who live in the Langley City. While there our hosts suggested we should all spend one afternoon in the nearby Fort Langley. Good idea…

Main street in Fort Langley

Glover Road is the main street in Fort Langley

Off The Beaten Path in Vancouver area
Fort Langley village is an excellent place to spend a few hours, especially if you’re interested in British Columbia history. Located on the south bank of the Fraser River, about 1 hour inland from the coast, Fort Langley is a restored Hudson Bay Company trading post. As a national historic site funded by Parks Canada, it offers guided narrations and many events throughout the year.

This is a cute small village with shops, cafes and restaurants, all located in heritage buildings from the 1800′s. It’s a beautiful historic neighborhood where the rolling farmland meets the river. It’s like taking a step back in time! We loved it!! Most people would assume that Vancouver has always been the most important city in this region, however, Fort Langley was once the only European settlement on the banks of the Fraser River… well before Vancouver even existed!

Fort Langley, the birthplace of British Columbia, is certainly a model of Small Town, Canada and is one of the province’s hidden treasures, rich in culture and history. In planning your next trip into BC, make sure you mark this picturesque village down as a must see place.

Antique stores galore

Fort Langley: Antique Shopping Haven and 50′s Paradise”
This was short trip as driving from the city of Langley to Fort Langley took only about 15 minutes. The first place we stopped by was a very large, department-sized antique shop. Now, I’m not really one to like antiques persay, but the selection was quite grand. From old telephones to china, the possibilities were endless. We soon grew bored of the store, as well as the smell, kind of like your grandmother’s living room, and so we moved on. Our girls (wife’s) were in front curious at everything, and us guys just followed them. It was a warm and sunny September day and we enjoyed the walk on crowded streets.

Fort Pub & Grill on the bank of the Fraser River

Entrance to Farmers market

Farmers market
On our walk towards the Fraser River we ran into the Farmers market. The Fort Langley Village Farmers’ Market is located next to the Fraser River in the Garden of The Bedford House restaurant (which was closed during the day… it opens after 5 P.M.).

Farmers market is on the south bank of the Fraser River

The Bedford house restaurant was closed

Farmers market is open every Saturday 10.00am-3.00pm. Remember, September is harvest month at the Fort Langley farmers market. Featuring local farmers with fresh local farm produce, seasonal fresh B.C. Fruits and vegetables, baked pies & tarts, baked breads, soups, beef jerky, preserves, local arts & crafts, hand made soaps and creams, hand made jewelry, painting and photography, and much, much more. There was a local musician entertaining on the riverfront deck.

We quickly grew hungry when we passed by “Planet Java 50′s” which was a little restaurant all decorated with a blast from the 1950′s. Since I was not that hot for a burger we didn’t stop here. Just several houses further up the street was a place called ‘Beatniks bistro’ with a nice patio. We decided to stop here.

Beatniks bistro – Cute little bistro in quaint Fort Langley
We asked for a table on the patio and there was only one available perfect! Great food, which is well priced. Excellent patio atmosphere in the heart of historic Fort Langley.

Cute little bistro in quaint Fort Langley

This place fits into the local environment as it is very quaint, and has more outdoor seating than indoor. They have a nice variety on their menu. I had the crispy scrimp meal which was excellent. The menu is not extensive, but met the needs of the four of us, and we could return to enjoy more of their items. The service was perfect and the female server friendly (and very beautiful!). Watch out for the bathrooms; there is only room for 1 in the men’s room.

Zdenko, Vera with friends on the Beatniks bistro patio

This is a cute little bistro with a cottage appearance on the outside. Its small inside with a close atmosphere, and if I was in the area, I would make an effort to come back. Visit their web site here.

The streets of Fort Langley
After lunch, we explored the streets of Fort Langley and noticed that most of the stores sold vintage furniture, including tables, lamps, chairs, etc. The furniture were quite exquisitely carved and very diverse. I would suggest visiting Country Lane Antiques and Two Sisters Antique, which are both situated on Glover Rd around each other. They have a variety of good selections for those of you who prefer antique furniture.

Fort Langley – Community Hall

We also stumbled upon the Visitor Information Centre, where the lady was really helpful in directing us to the Marina Park where we enjoyed a lovely view. We also saw a barber shop like they had in the olden days, with pictures in the window of the haircuts they gave. But, due to the fact that it was Sunday, it was closed.

It was lots of fun walking the streets of Fort Langley because the atmosphere was very different in comparison to Vancouver. Although the Historical Site was very empty, I enjoyed the quiet atmosphere because it matched the old designs of the buildings and shops. It is a great place to visit for those of you who would like to get away from the bustling city life for a day and just enjoy the life at the suburbs in BC.

Another antique store

This couple came for a stroll down the main street

Planet Javas 50′s Cafe
The busiest place in town seams to be Café Planet. Their patio was also full of people. Although we didn’t eat there here is my observation of the place.

Planet Java is on Glover Road

Planet Java is basically a vintage burger joint with prices varying around $7 to $12 for a burger and salad. It is situated at 9178 Glover Rd. Entering this “diner” is like stepping back in time, from bigger than life size Elvis standing in the corner as you enter, to the “wall boxes” at each table. Just drop a quarter in and select an old tune from your childhood and you will be transported back in time forgetting all those disturbing thoughts.

Planet Java is a vintage burger joint

Order from a selection of delicious Burgers that will satisfy any appetite, now being served with fries if you wish. The salads always seem to be fresh. They have delicious home made milkshakes made on old fashion milkshake mixers with 3 scoops of real ice cream. They are served in a tall glass with the remainder in the metal mixing cup, enough for 2.

When a decision of what you want has been made, order at counter, it will be delivered to your table when ready by one of the friendly staff. So don’t forget, tips are gratefully accepted. This Diner does get extremely busy at times, especially on weekends when the sun comes out, so try to visit before or after the lunch rush, you won’t be disappointed by the quality.

Gasoline Alley – Shopping retail stores…

Gasoline Alley
Gasoline Alley dates from the 1950s when Kelsey Moore established his electrical and plumbing contracting business here. He added other buildings as needed and some of these were occupied by other businesses, including a barbershop. The alley retained its appearance after Kelsey’s death in 1965, but by 1985 had been adapted for retail spaces. Gasoline Alley captures the character and charm of the village of Fort Langley.

Colorful stores in Gasoline Alley

Overall enjoyable trip
Overall, we had an enjoyable trip, although I wish more of the “vintage” stores were open on Sunday! Definitely worth a visit on any day. If your sole intention is to learn the history of British Columbia, Fort Langley definitely fits our criteria! We went to visit Fort Langley on Sunday, September 2nd, 2012.

Over eighty businesses provide professional services, antique and boutique shopping as well as vibrant dining opportunities. Whether you are in the mood for collectibles, fashion or just a few souvenirs, you will find it along the tree-lined streets of historic downtown. Buskers and local artists frequent the cobblestone streets that line well kept storefronts of antique stores and gabled Victorian style homes. Art galleries, cafés as well as home and garden stores populate Glover Road, the main drag of Fort Langley. The town itself is small but caters to a wide variety of interests including a wealth of historic buildings, each with their own, distinct look and significance.

Antique Furniture store

Whether your passion is shopping, history or culture, Fort Langley offers unique opportunities to explore and experience something new. Its plentiful history and old-town appeal are accented by the friendly locals who are more than willing to tell you their favorite place nearby. So next time you visit the lower mainland, stop by for a day and experience all that Fort Langley has to offer. You won’t regret it!

For more shopping, you can simply drive south into Langley City which has been growing steadily into a large and active community. Shop around Willowbrook Mall or even visit the mama and papa style shopping on the “One Way”, the downtown business centre of Langley City.

History of Fort Langley
The original fort was built in 1827 as a stop in the Hudson Bay Company’s vast network of fur trading. It prospered as a trading post and as a centre of collection and provision for the surrounding area. Although the original fort burned down in 1839, a new fort was built the following year in the same place that the National Historic Site of Fort Langley now rests. In 1858, the Gold Rush hit Fort Langley as the starting point the Fraser River gold fields. This brought the fort even more success but by the late 1800’s Fort Langley had fallen into disrepair and was eventually fazed out of HBC’s trading plan. It wasn’t until 1955 that the process of restoration began on site after being declared a place of historic significance by the Sites and Monuments Board of Canada in 1923. We are now left with the historic legacy of a fur trading post and the charming town that surrounds it.

Map of Fort Langley

The Fort Langley National Historic Site of Canada is a monument worth seeing. Period reenactments are a part of the daily routine at the fort by the costumed guides. You can tour the geography and learn the full history and dealings of Fort Langley when it was in its prime. Blacksmithing and gold panning demonstrations are just some of the activities that are available to the general public. Although the fort is a main attraction in Fort Langley, it is definitely not the only enticement. To many, it is the little town that borders the historic site where the magic happens.

Statue of James Douglas – Father of BC.

If you are interested further in the history of the area, there are three museums located near the fort, huddled among the shops and eateries. Langley Centennial Museum and National Exhibition Centre has and extensive collection of First Nations artifacts and Settler’s belongings and is located next to the BC Farm and Agricultural Museum. Right down the street is the Langley Heritage Society CN Railway Station Site where you can walk through the ticket office and observe the display of trains, including a well-equipped, working model railroad. Not far away is the Canadian Museum of Flight located on the grounds of the Langley Airport. It boasts static exhibits as well as live planes. You can even climb into the cockpit of some of the more notable planes in aviation history.

Fort Langley old village – Historic site

The history of Fort Langley is vast and rich and is also not the only quality that the charming town possesses. The Fort Wine Company, famous for their fruit and dessert wines, is no more than a 7 minute drive from the main road of Fort Langley. With daily tasting and tours available, it is a great experience for wine experts and novices alike. This is only one of the many wineries in the area. If you wish to venture further south into Langley itself, 3 more wineries await your pallet. Domaine de Chaberton is the most well known, attached to its very own restaurant, the Bacchus Bistro. Township 7 Vineyards and Winery is located nearby, as is Glenugie winery, a family run winery located in the scenic countryside of Langley. All of these wineries are a part of the Fraser Valley wine tradition that is just beginning to blossom.

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One comment to “The charm of Fort Langley”

  1. Comment by John Blades:

    Hi Zdenko,
    Enjoyed your write-up on Fort Langley. Steph and I camped for 3 days on Brae Island which is north across the bridge. I rode the Fort Langley Gran Fondo on July 22. Good route, lots of short, sharp climbs, a very flat finish along the river for those who like to really roll it out. One tricky curvy section of 15% downhill! Of course we certainly enjoyed all the amenities of the village. Thanks for the pics and written reminder.

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