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The Museum is open, stop by and find out about the projects we're working on this year.

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A photo of one of our #localhistory reference book sections for #ShelfieDay.

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It is with great sadness that we are sharing the news about the passing of an Aldergrove pioneer last evening.

John Masztalar was born in Vancouver in 1932, moving to Aldergrove with his parents in 1937, where they lived on a 40 acre farm on South Jackman Road.

John attended Aldergrove Elementary and Langley High School, working alongside his Dad on the farm when he wasn't attending classes. To earn extra money, they also constructed barns for other farmers and did some share-cropping as well.

When John completed Grade 11, he went to Ocean Falls, where he worked in the pulp mill for two years. From there, he pursued his love of steam trains and was hired on as a fireman for the CPR's Kettle Valley Line out of Nelson. Two years later he was out of a job as the engines were switched over to diesel.

John then spent several years in the logging industry, working in the Queen Charlottes and at Harrison Lake. From there he moved on to lumber mills and spent the rest of his working life working in the lumber industry.

In 1954 he met the Beatrice McDonald at a dance in Mt. Lehman. Bea was Mt. Lehman born and raised. She married John in 1955 at the Abbotsford United Church. Their wedding reception was held at the Aldergrove Agricultural Hall. After their marriage, John and Bea rented a small cabin on Fraser Highway from Mrs. Walters. It was located where the Fox and Hounds Pub is situated.

In 1957, John and Bea purchased a 15 acre farm on South Jackman Road. The farm came with a little house sitting in the bush and old barn. There was no running water and no indoor plumbing. There was, however, one electrical plug.

They had soon cleaned up the dirty little shack and dug the well deeper, at least getting cold water running to the kitchen, which had a large black and chrome wood stove for heat and cooking. The outhouse was out at the end of the woodshed. When Hurricane Freda blew through in the 1962, the storm toppled both their chimney and the garage. The Masztalars built a new section onto the garage and spent much of their time clearing their land.

The family obtained a milk cow and Beatrice raised veal and beef as John was working the swing shift at the mill. By now, the couple had four children in their little 400 square foot cabin. Beatrice was thinking indoor plumbing would be a nice addition to farm living, so John started working on a bigger house.

They moved into the new - unfinished - house just before Christmas in 1963. John said that when the building inspector came around, he told Bea that they couldn't live in the house because it had no plumbing. Bea laughed and said "I had no plumbing in that old house, and here at least I have a furnace and more room." He looked at all the kids, looked at the old shack, and drove off. Two more children were born after the family moved into the new house, which still stands to this day.

John and Bea were very active in the Heritage Society and served terms as Directors. They were instrumental in the work done on both Volume 1 and 2 of The Place Between books, and were always ready to assist with a helping hand no matter who needed the help.

Bea was also involved with the parent groups for the various sports organizations that the kids joined, as well as school PTA and United Church groups.

John sat on the Aldergrove Revite Committee in the early 90’s. John also loved his old blue and white International pick-up truck, which he was often seen driving around town for many, many years.

Bea passed away on the 12th of December 2008, and has been greatly missed by her family and her community. She will now be joined by her husband John, who passed away last evening, 13th January 2020.

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55 years ago today shortly before sunrise a rumbling was taking place along the Hope-Princeton Highway. There was already a flow of snow, ice and forest debris across the road at a quarter to five, and a bright yellow convertible had found it the hard way. Unable to stop, its driver slid into the wall of debris on an angle, trapping part of the car’s front end in the deep snow and leaving one fellow with injured knees.

Kamloops-based Arrow Transport driver Norman Stephanishin slowed to a stop some distance behind the car that had passed him just moments ago at the top of Nine Mile Hill. He had been able to see the size of the avalanche with his truck’s spotlight. Two young men were trying to get the car free of the debris. A young woman was with them.
Norman warned the three young people that there was a very high chance of more debris coming down the mountain, but they were determined to dig the car free. Unable to turn his tanker unit around, Norman told the trio that he was going to head back to Sumallo Lodge for help.

It was about this time that hay hauler Thomas Starchuk neared the slide field, stopping as Norman flagged him down to give warning. Norman asked Thomas to keep any other vehicles from driving through.

Very soon after this, a Greyhound bus carrying 18 passengers approached the stopped trucks. Driver Dave Hughes was flagged down and told of the situation. Norman asked Dave if he could give him a ride to the Lodge so they could arrange for help at the slide. Dave agreed, and Norman climbed on board.

Dave backed his bus up the highway for well over one mile, turning around at the Boys’ Town turn-off and headed back to Sumallo Lodge When they left, the young lady was sitting in the cab of Norman’s truck keeping warm and the young men were still trying to get the yellow convertible unstuck.

The initial slide had taken out telephone communications between Sumallo Lodge and Hope, so the pay phone at the lodge was useless. The men roused Bob Sowden, the lodge’s operator. They told him what had happened, and he tried to radio the highways yard at Allison Pass, but got no answer. Bob got in his truck and drove up to inform the highways crew of the slide.

In the meantime, another bus full of passengers heading south on the highway was diverted into the lodge’s parking lot. The bus was followed by a mail truck. The driver of the mail truck, along with Norman, drove down to the slide to check on the four people left at the scene. Soon after they passed Boys’ Town, they were forced to stop. A second avalanche of deep snow had come down. Both men were concerned that the four others were trapped between the two debris fields. As the morning light improved, they discovered that the situation was much, much worse. (Note: Boys’ Town was a place for delinquent teen boys and was located in Sunshine Valley)

Norman and the mail carrier were joined by Bob Sowden, the man they had spoken with at Sumallo Lodge. Bob ventured into the slide debris, but soon came back covered in snow. He told the other men that the valley was gone, completely covered in debris. There was no sign of the four people or the three vehicles, and Johnson Peak was missing its south face.

The highways crew had by now arrived on scene, and they transmitted radio messages through to departments on the west side of the slide. Rescue crews were mobilized, but it would be a daunting task searching through over 50 million tons of rock, snow, trees and general debris looking for any survivors.

The slide had completely obliterated Outram Lake, which was located on the south side of the highway. Like water sloshing in a bowl, the slide had come down from Johnson Peak, its momentum carrying the wall of destruction part way up Mt. Coulter, south of where the lake had been, before everything settled on the valley floor.

Two dozen volunteers along with highway crewmen, firemen and police officers searched the debris for vehicles and humans, even as the mountain continued to release rocks and boulders. The men knew of the danger, but still they continued looking.

A young police dog trained to find people was brought in from Cloverdale, and it was Prince who showed the rescuers where to dig, enabling them to retrieve the only two bodies that would be recovered from the slide.

Bernie Beck aged 27 of Penticton, the driver of the yellow convertible and the hay hauler, Thomas Starchuk, were both found in the cab of Starchuk’s truck. The bodies of Dennis Arlitt (23) and his girlfriend Mary Kalmakoff (21) were never found. Bernie had been driving the pair to visit Mary’s sister in Agassiz as a favour to his friends.

Thomas Starchuk had been identified as being a 38 year old truckdriver from Aldergrove, but in reality he lived in Abbotsford at 28810 Fraser Highway – the house that still stands right on the southeast corner of Bradner Road and Fraser Highway. In 1965, the mailing address for the area was RR2, Aldergrove, which is probably where the error was made.

Thomas, who had been born in Smoky Lake Alberta in 1926, was married to Vivian Ann (MacDougall) and had four children – three daughters, Shirley, Susan and Vivian – and one son, Gregory. He was also survived by his parents, John and Mary (Meroniuk) Starchuk of North Vancouver and one grandmother, Mrs. Sam Meroniuk, still living in Smoky Lake. He had been a commercial truckdriver for two years and was set to become the owner of his truck later in 1965. Thomas is buried in Aberdeen Cemetery.

You can read more about the Hope Slide here: www.hopestandard.com/home2/hope-in-history-the-hope-slide/

You can watch the “This Week In History” video about the slide, produced by the Royal BC Museum, here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aigd-_En5z0

Story and Photo Sources:
The Vancouver Sun – Monday 11 January 1965 pages 1, 2, 3 and 21
The Vancouver Sun – Wednesday 13 January 1965 page 1
The Langley Advance – Thursday 14 January 1965 page 2
The Vancouver Sun – Saturday 23 January 1965 pages 3, 25
The Vancouver Sun – Tuesday 12 January 1965 page 26
The Hope Slide Aerial Photo – Province of British Columbia, Ministry of Transport
Photo of Thomas Starchuk – The Vancouver Sun – Monday 11 January 1965 page 21
Immensity of Avalanche – The Vancouver Sun – Monday 11 January 1965 page 1
Norman Stephanishin – The Vancouver Sun – Monday 11 January 1965 page 1
Police Dog Prince On The Hunt – Langley Advance – Thursday 14 January 1965 page 2

#heritagematters #hopeslide
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Ending the year on a fun note - the stories will return in January. In the meantime, start your day off with a chuckle as Ellen tasks a teen to use some retro tech... ... See MoreSee Less

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In 1920 Larry Murphy bought 40 acres on the east side of Otter Road, a half mile north of Roberts Road, with money that he had saved while working in a logging camp. He moved there on the 1st of April 1921, living on the south side of the property in an old mill shack until he built himself a small log house.

A logging camp friend helped him dig a well. The land had been logged and burned, but still needed to be cleared. His farm consisted of a horse, sheep, chickens and pigs. The pigs came to an abrupt end one day when Larry came home with a lady friend and “Sadie” met them at the gate.

In the late twenties, Larry took Mrs. Bell to New Westminster in his “open-air” model T Truck. They went to pick up a bell she had ordered from England for St. Alban’s Church. A later vehicle was put together with parts from several old Model T’s. He bought a newer Model T when he was courting Ina Bernetta Matson because, as he said, “People can laugh at me in the funny car, but not at you.” He paid court to Emerald Powell from Brown Road at the same time and attended dances at the Otter Hall with one or the other.

In 1926 he bought another 40 acres on the south side of his property from Mr. Stewart for $300.00. In 1929 he turned it over to Jack McArthur for a handshake and a grub stake for $300.00 at McArthur’s store on Otter and Old Yale Roads. McArthur later sold his store and had a house built on this property. Larry helped him dig the well.

When Larry and Ina were married in January 1930, he had 400 laying hens. He was also working as a powder man on the new Trans Canada Highway between Langley and Otter. He was an expert at blowing stumps, so cleared much of his land himself. His children enjoyed hiding behind a tree to watch several stumps blow one after the other, sometimes getting “rained” with dirt. Larry built all his buildings, including the house, by himself.

Larry was a chicken farmer specializing in selling hatching eggs. For a few years he hatched his own chicks but gave that up to buy them. Ina was most upset when he drilled a hole in the bottom of Dorothy’s silver baby cup to use it as a condenser on a brooder. Years later he would have as many as 5000 laying hens and always a few miserable chasing, pecking roosters.

He earned extra money by selling Christmas trees. There lots of them on his farm, and he cut and sold the first ones in 1939. In 1940, he cut trees on Malcolm McIntyre’s place across the road. The trees were measured with a long, colour-coded stick, bundled in lots according to size, and in 1941 he shipped a boxcar load of 2000 trees to New York. Gradually, as the local market grew, he started planting and cultivating trees on his farm. This was the beginning of Murphy’s Christmas Tree Farm, which is now (1993) managed by his son Don and wife Waneta.

Larry and Ina were long-time members of the “Buttons and Bows” Square Dance Club. They had three children – Dorothy, Don and Jack. Dorothy married Del Sherritt of Murrayville, Jack married Katie Hildebrant of Abbotsford, and Don married Waneta Butler of Surrey. There are two granddaughters, six grandsons and five great grandsons. Grandson Larry Sherritt and family live in the house that Larry and Ina built (1993).

Larry built three different homes for himself and his family, as well as a number of chicken houses and barns. He also built a home for his mother-in-law which was later used in a CBC movie titled Dreamspeaker. Larry had also built a home for his father, who had never fully recovered from a gunshot injury received when robbers attempted to hold-up his Vancouver store.

Over the years, many people were given chickens, eggs, fruit, vegetables and Christmas trees. There were many happy times, much friendly hospitality and good home cooked meals. Larry’s quote on reading this account of his life was “You make it all sound so easy; it wasn’t. It was a lot of hard work.”

Larry Murphy passed away in March, 1994 at the age of 94. He was born in Winnipeg, but the family moved to Lethbridge and then to Vancouver. Larry was one of the first subscribers to the Langley Advance when it began publishing in 1931. He was a keen woodcarver and loved a good game of checkers.

Ina passed away in November 2003 at the age of 98. Ina had been born in Idaho, but her family moved to Alberta in 1912. She later came to Vancouver to work in a boarding house, and then moved to Langley in 1928 when she began working at the Killarney Farm on the Johnston-Townline Road in Murrayville. Ina was an active member of the Otter Women’s Institute and made many blood donations to the Red Cross over the years. She also loved her home, baking and did beautiful embroidery work. She was a member of St. Alban’s Church and the ACW of the Church, participating in many church bazaars and bake sales.

#heritagematters #communitybuilder #communityarchives #merrychristmas

Story Sources:

The Place Between Volume 1 1860-1939 pages 229-230 – story written by Dorothy (Murphy) Sherritt
Tree Pioneer Mourned – Langley Advance 23 March 1994 page 14
Obituary – Ina Matson Murphy – Langley Advance 14 November 2002 page 44

Photo Sources:

The Larry Murphy Family – courtesy of Dorothy (Murphy) Sherritt
Waneta Murphy & Darlene Sherritt - Langley Advance 9 December 1997 page 23 "Christmas Tree Crash Course" photo and story by Erin McKay
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Today is the last day the museum will be open for 2019, so if you've been enjoying our #CommunityBuilder series and would like to read more about the families who built Aldergrove, today is your last chance before Christmas to buy The Place Between Volume 1 and/or Volume 2.

Society memberships are also available. The museum can accept cash, debit, credit cards, Apple, Samsung and Google Pay.

Single Volume - 30.00 or the two volume set for $50.00.

The museum will be open from noon until 3pm, stop by and say hello. =)

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Albert “Curly” Currell was born in Toronto. Prior to coming to British Columbia, Curly worked as a mechanic in the Toronto area. In 1939 he joined the Royal Canadian Navy and served through the war years on HMCS Strathadan and HMCS Dunver. The ships were often part of the convoys travelling between Halifax and the UK, and were also part of the striking forces in the Mediterranean and Irish Seas.

Albert married Gladys Robison in Hamilton on the 14th of December 1942, while Curly was on leave from the Navy. Their first child, Blair, was born in 1946 in Toronto, where the family had moved to after Curly was demobilized in 1945. After the war, Curly worked for the Steel Company of Canada as a millwright and also as an express messenger for the CPR. His father George was also an express messenger for the CPR.

The Currell family moved to the Aldergrove area in 1948. Their first home was on 56th Avenue, but a short time later they moved to 26893 Fraser Highway, where they were close neighbours of the Makela family. They later moved to 3000 267 Street. In 1951, daughter Donna was born, followed by Dori in 1956.

While Curly worked for Royal City Food in New Westminster, Gladys spent her summers running the Royal City Foods warehouse which was on their property. This is where local berry growers brought their harvest for shipment to the processing plant in New Westminster.

During Curly’s years in Aldergrove he was involved in many community organizations. He was a Boy Scout leader, belonged to the Junior Chamber of Commerce and later the Aldergrove Chamber of Commerce, serving executive terms with both groups. Curly was also involved with the local baseball league and the Aldergrove United Church Men’s Club, where he was an elder and served on the board of stewards for two years.
He was on the Board of Directors for the Mount Lehman Credit Union. Curly was a member of the Aldergrove Volunteer Fire Department from 1954 to 1960, and served a term as the Deputy Fire Chief. Curly served as an adult advisor for the Aldergrove Teen Town group, and was an active member of the Aldergrove Elks.

Once a month he played the guitar and sang with a group of friends at the local dances at the old Agricultural Hall which was located on Fraser Highway. He served as a director for the Agricultural Association for three years. Curly was also a founding member of the Aldergrove Legion, Branch 265, and served on its first executive, becoming president in February 1965.

Gladys joined the Aldergrove Legion Ladies Auxiliary and was their first secretary. She was also very involved with the PTA at Aldergrove Elementary, which all three of their children attended. They also all graduated from Aldergrove High School.

Gladys was also a member of the Legion’s Ladies Auxiliary, where she served as historian. She taught Sunday School at the United Church as was a member of the United Church Women’s Group. Gladys also enjoyed bowling and swimming. Both Curly and Gladys participated in bowling leagues at Jack Scott’s Alder Lanes bowling alley.

When funds were being solicited to build the swimming pool at Aldergrove Park in the early 1960’s, Curly won a draw that was held for the fund canvassers. He was the recipient of a five day expense-paid holiday in Reno.

Curly’s son Blair was also a member of the Aldergrove Volunteer Fire Department and a founding member and executive of the Aldergrove Kinsmen. He married Linda Harrie from the Otter Road area, and they lived in Aldergrove for many years before moving to Clearbrook. Donna married Ted Ashman from the Coghlan area, and Dori married Randy Vaydo from Langley.

From the day of Curly’s retirement until the day he died in 1997, his passion was golf. He was a regular at the Poppy Golf Course, and for a short time was the marshall, ensuring all players were following the rules while playing their game. Although Gladys never did share Curly’s passion for golf, she did enjoy joining him for a meal in the restaurant after his game. In her final years, Gladys resided in Jackman Manor and passed away in March, 1999.

#heritagematters #communitybuilder #communityarchives

Story Sources:

The Place Between Volume 2 1940-1970 page 206 – Albert & Gladys Currell, written by Donna Ashman
The Langley Advance – 11 February 1965 page 14 – Our Neighbours

Photo Sources:

Curly in his fire gear – Aldergrove Volunteer Fire Department
The Currell Family – courtesy of Donna Ashman
Curly’s installment as Legion president: The Langley Advance 28 January 1965 page 11 – staff photo
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The first Polar Bear Swim Club was formed in Langley Township in 1949. Their first dip was taken on Christmas Day of the same year.

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Source: The Langley Advance 29 December 1949 page 1

*the #CommunityBuilder series will return soon.
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William Makela and his wife Kaisu (Hannenan), along with their children Walter and Helvi moved to Aldergrove in 1935, settling at 26724 Trans Canada Highway (Fraser Highway). William went to work for Ross Bros. Garage as a body man and painter.

Helvi attended Langley High School and then attended the Provincial Normal School in Vancouver, graduating in 1942 to become a teacher. One of her assignments included teaching grade one at Coghlan Elementary until her marriage in November 1950. She married Elmer Lammie and moved to Surrey, where she and her husband had two children, Karen and Ronnie.

Kaisu volunteered for many years at the Finnish Canadian Rest Home, where both she and were members, with William being a charter director. William and Kaisu were avid participants in the many fund-raising whist drives that were held at the Vasa Hall, quite often winning tournaments and the coveted Silver Cup.

William was a founding member of the new Aldergrove Volunteer Fire Department, formed in 1942. Son Walt also joined the department, serving with the AVFD from 1959 until 1986. Both men assisted in the building of the new fire hall.

Son Walter spent eight years at Aldergrove Elementary and then four years at Langley High School. Walter also picked strawberries and raspberries, as well as pack groceries at Endacott’s Red & White Store. For other jobs he pumped gas at Ross Garage and worked for one summer at the Abbotsford Airport.

By 1948, William Makela had opened his own body shop – Bill’s Auto Body And Paint Works, and Walt began working for his Dad as a partner at the age of 19.

In October 1952, Walt married Jean McLean – sister to Dorothy, wife of Jim Ferguson (Ferguson’s Meats & Cold Storage). Jean worked at Gardiner’s Pharmacy for many years. Walter and Jean moved in to a house at 26700 Fraser Highway.

Their first son, Douglas, was born in 1954, followed by twins Brian and Barry in 1956. Daughter Glenda was born in 1960. Jean became a very talented seamstress, and her work is always beautifully done.

As the boys grew older, all three worked in the in auto body, and it was a family business for over twenty years. Bill’s Auto Body always produced quality work, and many businesses in town had their company vehicles painted there, including the original Quiring Towing trucks and Aldergrove Volunteer Fire Department fire trucks. The Makelas were very well known for their quality hand painted lettering and pinstriping.

The Makelas closed up their shop in 1988, after forty years in business – partly because of changing regulations and non-conforming zoning bylaws. The property was sold to a townhouse developer and the Makelas moved elsewhere in town. The three boys moved on to other jobs, but Douglas continued on in the auto body trade.

Doug, Brian and Barry loved sports, playing on various school and community teams, including basketball, baseball and soccer. In 1990 Brian and Barry took over as player/coaches for the Aldergrove Olympians FC for a number of years.

Music was also an integral part of the Makela’s lives, with Doug becoming very well known with his orchestra “The Other Big Band”. Doug’s son Chad continued the tradition, touring with Doc Severinsen as a baritone sax player as well as playing in his father’s band.

Walter sat on the Aldergrove Utilities Commission as well as the Aldergrove Planning Committee. He was also active with the Aldergrove Chamber of Commerce for many years, serving many terms on the executive. Like many other couples in Aldergrove, the Makelas made use of Jack Scott’s bowling alley, frequently ringing up some high scores.

Over the years, the Makela family has given many hours of volunteer time to help make Aldergrove a better community. The old Makela property on Fraser Highway was also once part of the F. Shortreed homestead, putting it as the site (or just east of the site, according to some reports) of “the little red schoolhouse” attended by so many early Aldergrove students. Walt and Jean’s first house is still standing, but the auto body shop, along with William and Kaisu’s house, is now the site of a townhouse complex.

William passed away in 1985, followed by Kaisu in 1987. Daughter Helvi passed away in August 2006, followed by Walter in February 2017.

#heritagematters #communitybuilders #communityarchives

Story Sources:

The Place Between Volume 2 1940-1970 page 363 – written by Walter Makela
The Place Between Volume 2 1940-1970 pages 50-51 – written by Walter Makela
The Langley Advance 19 January 2007 page 20 – A Big Band Will Bring The West Langley Hall Alive Friday Night
The Langley Advance 9 January 1975 page 4 – Council Committees
The Langley Advance 27 October 1966 page 1 – ‘Grove Chamber Changes Executives
The Langley Advance 2 November 1950 page 12 – Coghlan Echoes

Photo Sources:

Walt Makela in his fire gear – Aldergrove Volunteer Fire Department
Bill’s Auto Body & Paint Works – courtesy of Walt Makela
Doug Makela Playing Sax With His Orchestra “The Other Big Band” – Aldergrove Star 7 April 2011
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John and Betty Smallenberg moved to Aldergrove in 1951. John was born in 1912 in Melville, Saskatchewan while his wife Betty (Mitchell) was born in Oak Point, Manitoba in 1918. Betty’s parents were Samuel John Mitchell and Louise Jory. They had married in Cornwall England, driving to their wedding in a donkey cart. Samuel was a carpenter and Louise was a school teacher. The Mitchells moved to Abbotsford in 1926.

Betty attended school in Abbotsford and worked in the Abbotsford Post Office during the war years. She married John Smallenberg in 1943 after his army duties were over. John was a baker by trade but had taken a job at the Abbotsford Post Office, working his way up to be assistant postmaster.
In 1951, John and Betty decided to go into business for themselves. John wanted to buy the County Line Store, but Betty, who did not drive, refused to go there, and agreed to buy The Grill in Aldergrove “as the lesser of two evils.”

The Smallenbergs first lived in the house behind the Grill, which had been built by Max Beeson, the previous owner. Son Dick has many fond memories associated with the café – the customers and mingling with the staff. There are lots of photos of John and Betty with friends Midge Webb, Alice Metzger, Iris woods, Nadia Omelaniec, Mrs. Copeland and many others.

The Smallenbergs eventually moved to a small farm where the (now former) ice arena was. It was the area where many of the kids’ best friends lived, and Dick has shared some of his memories further down in this story.

John and Betty had six children – Dick, Bob, Wayne, Dolly, Betty and Michelle. All attended Aldergrove High School, with the younger ones attending Clearbrook Secondary when the family later moved back to Abbotsford. The Smallenberg children had many pets – chickens, ducks, cats, dogs and a squirrel. There was even a possum, which Betty bade farewell to fairly quickly.

The boys went Cubs and Scouts, under the supervision of Charlie Haid, and the girls went to Brownies and Guides. Betty was a Brownie leader with Marlene Lemieux for a time, and particularly remembered a trip to Cultus Lake, where one member of the Brownie group ran to the end of the pier and jumped into the water fully clothed!

When The Grill was purchased by John and Betty, it had not only a thriving café, but also a bus stop for Greyhound and Pacific Stage Lines. The Grill and Grocery was located on the south side of Fraser Highway just west of Jackman Road and across from Ferguson’s Meats & Cold Storage.

The Smallenbergs specialized in homemade soups and pies. It was a place where people would meet from all over the area, trading stories and having a laugh over a cup of coffee.

Betty said they arrived at the café, “green as grass about the face business, but we learned.” They had an able cook, Ida Docksteader from Fort Langley, and a waitress, Beverly Marshall, both of whom were with the previous owner. There was no grocery store at first, so they brought in a small line of groceries as well. Shortly afterward, Eileen Coupland (Allison) came to work for them as well as Iris Bell (Wood).

The Smallenbergs were not there more than a week when the sanitary inspector came and threw out all the dishes. This was headache number one, and over the years, there were plenty of them; trouble getting food help and even customers with light fingers. One old gentleman who frequently bought a large box of matches said once, “I’ll pay for them today, but I usually steal them.”

Meals were reasonable at that time. Soup and dessert came to $1.00; milkshakes were 25 cents, coffee was 10 cents and cigarettes were 35 cents. The Smallenbergs used to sell eighteen different kinds of ice cream and go through it all on the first of July. Sunday was a busy day on the street before Aldergrove was bypassed when the new freeway opened. They had a huge Wurlitzer, and Dick Smallenberg’s favourite song was “Primrose Lane”.

Hallowe’en was fun in the 1950’s. There were no big fireworks displays in the park, but firecrackers were abundant. Jack Fairholm in the 5 to a Dollar Store had a good supply, and so did the Grill. The Grill used to make up 150 bags of treats (there wasn’t much other business on Hallowe’en night), and as soon as it was dark, the goblins would venture out.

Next door to the Grill in the back yard of John McMillan’s Second Hand Store was a supply of sinks, toilets and bathtubs. The teenagers would carry these times down the street, depositing them in the doorways of other business places. The next morning, John would have to go down the street to retrieve his “stolen goods”. They had a great time, and nothing was damaged.

The Smallenbergs participated in many of the local events – they were regular competitors in the annual Fall Fair, winning many accolades over the years. John and Betty’s daughter Betty was a princess to the 1972 Rose Queen as well as a cheerleader at Aldergrove Secondary.

The Smallenburgs were also regular high rollers in the bowling leagues. They also participated in sports competitions including the Fort Langley to Langley Fall Fair Marathon, with Bob winning a silver medal in 1963.

Oldest son Dick Smallenberg shared some of his memories of growing up in Aldergrove with the Langley Advance in an article published on the 13th of August in 2002:

“To me, Aldergrove was very small. Many people were not only business people but best friends. Many of my own best friends’ parents owned their own businesses in town, for example: Aber’s Dog House (Abercrombie’s), Ingersoll’s Aldergrove Hotel and Café, Jack Scott Motors (later Quiring’s), Ross Motors (later Lutz’s), Dams’ Shell and Pollard’s Homeservice (near the present Safeway – now Freshco).

There was Breier’s Super Valu that I would wander into and see Joe Breier, Richie Fatkin, who was a favourite of mine in produce, and Abe Schroeder. The meat cutter was Don McLeod.

Doctor Findlay! Well, wouldn’t it be nice to find a doctor like him now. He was helpful at all times, never rushed, and he would be there for you in a second, whether it was late at night, Sunday or whatever.

Other thriving businesses included Courtemanche’s Shoes, Stade Family Fashions, Fairholm’s 5-$1.00 Store, Rowley Jewellers, Begg’s Hardware, Stoelting’s Deli, with Buckerfield’s, then on the main street. If the fire siren on top of the hotel sounded, you could not find a businessman in town as they were all volunteer firemen.

Wednesday was bowling night, and all the same people would jump into their cars and go to Abbotsford to bowl. My Dad took me along; I was basically a “gopher” for the Super Valu team, the Wing Dings. I didn’t mind, as I always got free pop and snacks.

That ended when Jack Scott opened Alder Lanes, and I became pin-setter. Instead of being a “gopher” I became a target, with bowling pins rebounding off my shins from the likes of Jim Ferguson, Joe Breier and Walt Makela. Those guys didn’t have a lot of finesse, but they threw rockets!

Later on, I started working for the Ferguson family Ferguson’s Cold Storage. They were the greatest people to work for. They probably trained a dozen or more kids who went on to meat cutting careers, including myself and my two brothers, Bob and Wayne. You not only worked there, you were treated like family. You bowled with them and did other social things. With 351 meat lockers rented out, you pretty well met everyone from the Aldergrove area at the Ferguson’s store.

Doing things with Dr. Findlay’s son Brian, the Quiring boys Bob and Dick, and Les Williams’ son Howard brought me more great memories than space allows.

Mr. Bill and Mrs. Marj (Eve) Francis, who provided me with a home away from home, were the finest people I’ve been lucky enough to know. They had a chicken and dairy farm situated where the present post office is and to the east. I practically lived there as their kids (Kathy, Mike and Dan) were my good friends. For that matter, practically all the kids in our area hung out there.

Mr. Francis always put the kids first and was our best friend. He let us dig a big hockey rink in the middle of his field, build a baseball backstop and diamond in another, and turn their grass tennis courts into a soccer field. There was always action and friend gathering at the Francis' “rec centre”.

A few other memories stick out from those early days in Aldergrove. At the corner of Jackman Road and Fraser Highway, about 8pm every Friday evening, a Bible group stood and sang hymns. It was probably the 50s, and Jackman Road was not yet paved.

It was not uncommon to play in the local forests and come across many old train trestles. My friend Ken Hall and I had many great times in the old sawmills on the Shortreed and Dean properties.

Over the years we built forts – sometimes a log cabin and sometimes a highly camouflaged underground fort. Victor Endacott had an underground for that was never found any of us. No matter how many times we tried to follow, we lost him every time.

Unfortunately John and Betty ended up losing the café, mainly due to John’s health. His arthritis also made his love of being a fireman difficult, so he helped Roy Beggs with the janitorial duties at the fire hall instead. He served with the fire department for ten years, beginning in 1952, and was a participant in the building of the new fire hall. John continued in woodworking after losing the café.

In late February 1962, John needed to make use of the Aldergrove Volunteer Fire Department’s services when his garage caught fire. Luckily the fire was restricted to the garage, although there was extensive smoke damage received by the Smallenberg’s house.

Sadly, John was killed in an accident east of Aldergrove on the 24th of February 1969 when his car hit a patch of black ice and overturned into a ditch west of Mt. Lehman Road. Betty passed away in June 1996. She was living in Abbotsford at the time.

#heritagematters #communitybuilder #communityarchives

Story Sources:

The Place Between Volume 2 1940-1970 pages 47 – 48 “The Grill and Grocery” written by Dick Smallenberg with a submission by Betty Smallenberg, 1991
The Place Between Volume 2 1940-1970 pages 480-482
Langley Advance 1 March 1962 page 12 Firemen Busy Over Stove Fires
Langley Advance 12 September 1963 Page 4 – Distance Runner Cuts Fort-Fair Time
Langley Advance 13 August 2002 page 33 – Aldergrove In The 1950s

Photo Sources:

The Grill and Grocery, Winter 1954 – Courtesy of Betty Smallenberg
John and Betty Smallenberg, 1943 – Courtesy of Dick Smallenberg
John Smallenberg in his fire gear – Aldergrove Volunteer Fire Department
The Smallenberg Family - Courtesy of Betty Smallenberg
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Christmas Lights! Aldergrove Christmas Parade

Thank you to Harold Whittell, Michael Pratt, Teresa Spring and Scott White for being this year's Parade Team.

#museum #communityarchives #christmas #aldergrovebc
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Light guys getting the float ready for tonight's #christmas parade.

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Geoffrey & Irene (Windle) Rowley came to Aldergrove during the winter of 1948. According to Rene (as everyone called her), it was one of the coldest on record. Here is their story:

The only way we saw the outside at all that winter was where we scratched through the inch thick ice coated on the windows. We had arrived in October with a bicycle, a motorcycle (being sent freight), and a big German Shepherd dog named Jan. I had come from England a few years before with my mother and brother, and Geoff had been in Canada with the RAF, stationed at Pat Bay near Victoria, where I worked in the shipyard.

After the war, we fully expected to settle in England and work with Geoff’s parents in the family jewellery store. Geoff had apprenticed before the war and was a fully qualified watchmaker. However, being young and looking for adventure, we dreamed of returning to Canada and starting our own business.

One cold day, we landed in Aldergrove while we were looking for a place to settle. It must have been fate that led us to Mrs. Williams’ Café. To our amazement, we discovered that she came from a small village in England called Frodgshame where Geoff’s uncle had a jewellery shop. Mrs. Williams convinced us that Aldergrove was “the place” to come to.

As there was nothing in town to rent, we bought a small lot through the realtor, Jim Brown. The lot was on the southwest corner of Fraser Highway and 271st, and cost of $50.00 down and $10.00 per month.

We didn’t know a nail from a two by four, but that didn’t faze us one bit. Goodness knows, we had lots of advice. We bought shiplap, nails, cement blocks – everything we were told we would need – from the little lumber yard on Jackman Road. It wasn’t very long before everybody around Aldergrove got interested in our progress, which was very limited.

The neighbours were mostly small farmers, and in those days folks had time to stop by and give any help they could. Then, to our total amazement, they formed a work party led by a carpenter who was a friend of Mrs. Williams. It wasn’t long before our little shack was all built. By Christmas, we had moved in. For furniture we had a bed and a table and assortment or orange and apple boxes for chairs.

Before long Geoff had his watch bench set up and we were in business, with our little store in the front and living quarters at the back. Everybody dug out their old watches and clocks for repair – we thought we were in heaven and real pioneers.

What happy times we had, with our little shack full of people, some sitting around the stove with their feet on the oven door drinking tea.

In the community we helped plan social events such as a Klondike night with Can Can dances and even a fashion show. One time some macho types from Glen Valley staged “The Cremation of Sam McGee” with the street of Aldergrove as the stage. That poor Sam McGee nearly did get cremated. After these events, we would all end up at the Agricultural Hall for dancing and fun.

Geoff was very involved with the Chamber of Commerce, serving more than once on the executive and as chairman of the Chamber’s retail merchants committee. Geoff was also a member of the Aldergrove Volunteer Fire Department, sat on the executive and aided in the building of the new hall.

Geoff often referred to the successful and increasing number and types of farms in the area, from mink, dairy, poultry and horse to vegetable and fruit, and how those farms made up a prosperous agricultural area beyond Aldergrove. He believed that as the surrounding district grows, so does the town and for the promotion of commerce in conjunction with the rural industries, modern utilities were essential. Geoff was a big promoter of improved water and sewer services for Aldergrove. Rene was a member of the Order of the Royal Purple.

Some stories weren’t quite so funny, like time our chimney fell down. We had built it when the ground was frozen, so when the ground thawed, down came the poor chimney.

In October 1951 we left Aldergrove, thinking to find greener pastures and to raise more money for a better store. We didn’t realize that we had left our hearts behind. We were given a lovely going away party by the community at the Vasa Hall. More than 70 people attended, and the party was arranged by Mrs. Ann Eve, Mrs. Marg McMillan and Mrs. May Dams. We were given a lovely electric tea kettle and a purse of money as a token for the esteem with which the community bestowed upon us.

After a few years of Geoff doing mechanical work at the Bralorne Mines, we returned in 1955, admitting to ourselves that even though Aldergrove would never be a place to make lots of money, we had been happier here than anywhere we had been. We had found our home. My brother also lived here, and was one of Police Chief Macklin’s first motorcycle traffic policemen in Langley.

We rented a new store in the centre of town where the Fish and Chip Shop is now (was, now it’s an East Indian cuisine restaurant)L. K. Sully had built four new stores there which were the start of a bigger Aldergrove. I ran a small hairdressing operation in the back of the shop, as well as helping Geoff in the jewellery store. Beside watch making and repairs, we sold gifts, jewellery and watches.

Unfortunately at Geoff passed away in 1970 (coincidentally, it was on the 13th of December, 43 years ago today). Geoff had previously suffered a heart ailment, and had undertaken a jogging program. He left his home on Boundy Road (29th Avenue) to jog alone. When he didn’t return home in the expected time, I set out with Fred Dams to look for him. We found Geoff slumped in the seat of his car beside the road. He was rushed to Langley Memorial Hospital, but was pronounced dead upon arrival. He was only 50 years old.

In 1972, two men named Peter Hollstein and Leo Currier broke into my store and stole several watches. The men were later found at the Rose Garden Motel and arrested. One man went to jail for a few months, but the other fellow didn’t, as he claimed he was rather drunk at the time. This was not the first time our store had been broken into. In 1966 two men smashed a front window and stole about $400.00 worth of items. They too were nabbed by our local police force.

I continued to work in the store until the new mall and jewellery store opened. I sold out the business in 1978, but continued to live on 29th Avenue in the house which Geoff and I built in 1961.

Rene Rowley passed away in 2008.

#heritagematters #communitybuilders #communityarchives

Story Sources:

The Place Between Volume 2 1940-1970 pages 459-460 – written by Rene Rowley
The Langley Advance 28 June 1973 page 15 – 60 Days For Watch Possession
The Langley Advance 4 October 1951 page 5 – Farewell Bid To Mr & Mrs Rowley
The Langley Advance – 17 December 1970 page 16 – ‘Grove Jeweller Died Suddenly
The Langley Advance – 4 November 1966 page 8 – Our Neighbours – Geoff Rowley
The Langley Advance – 13 January 1966 page 1 – 2 Suspects Held After ‘Grove Theft

Photo Sources:

Rowley’s First Jewellery Store & Home – The Place Between Volume 2 1950-1970 page 459 – Courtesy of Rene Rowley
Geoff Rowley In His Fire Gear – Aldergrove Volunteer Fire Department
Rowley’s Jewellers Advertisement – Langley Advance 1 December 1966
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Roy and Myrtle Beggs were both born in Milverton, Ontario; Roy in May 1896 and Myrtle in October 1898. They were married in Ontario in 1916 and lived for many years in Stoughton, Saskatchewan before moving to Langley during the war years.

Their only child, Trevor, was born in Tyvan, Saskatchewan in 1920. He spent most of his time in Stoughton playing sports, and is in the Stoughton Hall of Fame under the Curling category. Trevor worked at the General Motors plant and then for radio CJRM, both in Regina. He enlisted in the RCAF in 1941 and spent 5 years in the military, both in Canada and overseas.

The Beggs family came to Aldergrove in 1946, where they built their house at 3024 271st Street, next to where Jim and Dorothy Ferguson would make their home in 1963. Roy, Myrtle and Trevor then built the Beggs Hardware store on Fraser Highway east of 272nd Street, which served the community for fifteen years.

Beggs’ Hardware Store stocked everything from nuts and bolts to fine china, and included an inventory of major appliances and a full line of builders’ hardware. Myrtle looked after the china department, and whenever there was a bridal shower, people would come in looking for a gift and often asked for suggestions. Myrtle would always know the right pattern of china to suggest, and invariably the bride would end up with a full tea set. Free gift wrapping was always provided.

Glass and key cutting were also services available at the store. Many times Trevor or Roy would be called out after store hours. When farmers were in need of parts for their machinery or fuses for their lights, the Beggs were always available in an emergency. The Beggs were always quick to offer merchandise as donated prizes for a variety of community events.

When the store joined the Marshall Wells chain in 1951, some grand opening specials included glass creamer and sugar bowl pairs for nine cents and nail hammers for $1.49. On Saturday nights the store stayed open until 9pm. It seemed that everyone came to town and dropped in for a friendly visit, whether they wanted to buy something or not.

It was while building the store that Trevor would meet his future wife, Elsie Newman. Elsie had begun working in the post office for Mrs. MacDonald, who was acting postmaster while her husband George was serving overseas. The post office was just a couple of doors down from the Beggs Hardware Store.

The Beggs became very involved in the Aldergrove Community. Roy became a part of the Aldergrove Volunteer Fire Department in 1946, serving as chairman of the executive committee. While he retired from the Fire Department in 1971, he was honoured as a lifetime member of Hall 3 for his many years of commitment to the department.

Both Roy and Trevor were instrumental in building the new fire hall, donating hours of their time, money and items from their hardware store, including the locks and keys to secure the building. Roy served for many years as caretaker of both the new fire hall and the United Church.

Roy was also very involved in the Chamber of Commerce, serving many terms on the executive. Myrtle was a part of the Order of the Royal Purple and the United Church Women’s Association, as well as part of the Fire Department Women’s Auxiliary and a volunteer at the Aldergrove Thrift Shop.

Both Roy and Myrtle were members of the Aldergrove Agricultural Association and Aldergrove Fair Board. They were both dedicated to volunteering their time to help out with community events and fundraising drives, such as helping to pay off the last of the debt owed for building Aldergrove Park.

Roy was very well known throughout the Fraser Valley for his ability to witch wells. He was always able to find water, and could usually determine the depth as well.

Married for seventy-seven years, Roy passed away in March 1994 at the age of 98 and Myrtle at the age of 97 in March 1995. They are both buried in the Langley Lawn Cemetery.

Trevor and Elsie were married in November 1947 and had three children – Dianne, Myrna and Murray. The Beggs’ house was two doors south of the Fred Dams family home on 271 Street. During the 1948 flood, Trevor and Elsie helped to fill sandbags as well as keep the workers supplied with sandwiches and coffee.

Following in the community example laid by Roy and Myrtle, Trevor and Elsie were also very involved in volunteer activities. Trevor was the chairman of the Aldergrove Community Park on 32nd Avenue during its initial development. The park became the focal point for softball during the 1950s and 60s because it had floodlights, good organization and public support.

The park hosted a miniature British Empire Games in 1954, the only town in Canada to do so before the event was renamed as the Commonwealth Games. Trevor played an instrumental part in obtaining the floodlights for the ball diamond.

Trevor played softball on the BC Champion Aldergrove Elks team and coached girls’ softball as well as serving as umpire. In later years, Trevor used his radio voice to announce all of the game from the local diamond.

Trevor also served for ten years on the Langley School District Board, five of them as Chair. He watched as Aldergrove Secondary School was built and ultimately opened in 1957. He was also active in the United Church, serving as Senior Boys leader, Sunday School Superintendent, pianist and Church Steward.

Trevor was a member of the original Township Parks & Recreation Commission, serving as Chair for two years. During this time, the Langley Civic Centre was opened, and as a co-creator of the Langley Walk, he and others worked tirelessly during the event every year of its infancy to ensure its success and growth.

Trevor was also instrumental in getting a lacrosse box built adjacent to the Aldergrove High School. In 1975 he was appointed Commissioner for Minor Lacrosse for the Fraser Valley, and he also served as president of the Fraser Commission which controlled lacrosse in the Fraser Valley.

Other community positions held by Trevor included secretary of the Aldergrove Chamber of Commerce, pianist and secretary of the Aldergrove Elks Lodge, Master of Ceremonies at many athletic and public events. In 1974, Trevor was the first recipient of the Eric Flowerdew Memorial Trophy for outstanding service in the world of sports.

Elsie was also very involved in the Aldergrove community. During the war years, she was involved with the Red Cross First Aid and as a plane spotter. She was a volunteer at the Aldergrove park concession for all of the ball games, and also played softball.

She was president of both the Aldergrove Elementary and Aldergrove High School PTAs, and helped to organize many graduation banquets. Elsie also served as president of the United Church Federation and the United Church Women for four years.

Elsie is a charter member of the Royal Purple Lodge, having joined on the 23rd of November 1944, when the Lodge was instituted. In 1948 she became an Honoured Royal Lady, and over the years has served five terms as leader. In 1951, she was elected District Deputy for District 2, with eight lodges in her jurisdiction.

For several years Elsie organized the Kinsmen Mothers’ March in Aldergrove, and was a fitness instructor for the ProRec program for ten years, and was also involved in the early years of the Langley Walk.

Both Trevor and Elsie were members of the Aldergrove Agricultural Association and the Aldergrove Fair Board. Elsie and her daughters won hundreds of Fall Fair prizes over the years for their entries in the baking and gardening categories. In fact, in 1985, Elsie dominated the prizes in the Domestic Sciences section (Langley Advance 11 September 1985 Page 5b).

After fifteen years in the hardware business, Trevor joined radio station CFVR in Abbotsford, where he served as station manager for seven years. When Trevor retired from working life, he was employed Eaton Financial Services. Elsie worked at Canada Post until she too retired from working life.

After retirement, Trevor served as a volunteer Seniors Resource Councilor under the Provincial Government, assisting seniors and advising them of benefits that they are entitled to, annual income tax and maybe just going for a coffee to talk.

Trevor passed away in December 2005 and is interred in Langley Lawn Cemetery. Elsie now lives in Abbotsford and celebrated her 100th birthday earlier this year. There was a very large community celebration for Elsie’s birthday hosted at the Aldergrove Legion. The large number of attendees at the open house speaks well of this community’s respect for Elsie and all that she (along with Trevor and her in-laws) gave to Aldergrove over the years.

#heritagematters #communitybuilders #communityarchives

Story Sources:

The Place Between Volume 2 1940-1970 page 50 – Beggs Hardware Store written by Elsie Beggs
The Place Between Volume 2 1940-1970 page 155 – Roy & Myrtle (Armstrong) Beggs written by Elsie Beggs
The Place Between Volume 2 1940-1970 pages 155-156 – Trevor and Elsie (Newman) Beggs written by Elsie Beggs
The Vancouver Sun Obituaries (online) – December 2005
The Langley Advance – 24 June 1976 page 3 – Grove Community Honoured Beggs

Photo Sources:

Trevor Beggs checking on fire hall construction – courtesy of the Dams Family
Roy Beggs in fire gear – Aldergrove Volunteer Fire Department
Roy and Myrtle Beggs, 75th Wedding Anniversary 1991 – courtesy of Elsie Beggs
Elsie and Trevor Beggs, November 1986 – courtesy of Elsie Beggs
Trevor Beggs inside the Beggs Hardware Store, 1949 – courtesy of Elsie Beggs
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