A Langley Times newspaper clipping of Brookswood Secondary students building toys for Langley Christmas Bureau families. Published Dec. 19, 1987. (Langley Advance Times files)

A Langley Times newspaper clipping of Brookswood Secondary students building toys for Langley Christmas Bureau families. Published Dec. 19, 1987. (Langley Advance Times files)

Beginnings of Langley Christmas Bureau unclear

A look back at a Langley holiday institution

Langley Christmas Bureau has been a perennial in the community, but the origin story of the local charity remains a bit of a mystery.

Although the local bureau wasn’t founded by Iris Mooney, the Langley Memorial Hospital nurse and Langley City alderman was the earliest coordinator some members of the community could recall.

Langley Advance Times spoke with City councillor and former bureau volunteer Gayle Martin, former City mayor Marlene Grinnell, one-time coordinator and former City fire chief Jim McGregor, local historian Warren Sommer and long-time bureau volunteer Sylvia Anderson about what they remembered about its early days.

Anderson said she started volunteering with the Langley bureau when she first moved to the community in 1971.

She recalls Mooney leading the volunteer-run charity operating out of the old Langley City hall at the time.

“[She was] very proactive and way ahead of her time,” Anderson noted about Mooney’s work ethic.

READ MORE: Iris Mooney passes away

It is not known when Mooney retired from the position or who took on the role after her, but a 1982 story from the Langley Advance Times archive refers to Township of Langley alderman Carol Gran as coordinator, who was said to have been preceded by Township alderman Muriel Arnason.

Also from the archive, a 1999 story states “after three years of running things, Ken Bain turned over the reins of Langley Christmas Bureau operations to Joan Chesney.”

In 2006, McGregor said he and Leigh Castron took over coordinating responsibilities from Chesney. The pair went on to run the bureau for 10 years, stepping back from the role just ahead of the 2016 season.

Today, the bureau is lead by Velma MacAllister.

Although many details remain murky, one thing that has remained consistent is the bureau has never had a home-base, according to McGregor.

Ahead of each holiday season the coordinator would work to secure a temporary home where volunteers could collect donations and organize to distribute supplies.

“[We] always looked for a place on a bus route,” said McGregor, noting the importance of being accessible to those in need of the bureau’s support.

Over the years the bureau has taken up space in a former liquor store, Bible store, bank, and Blockbuster, McGregor recalls.

“It would never work without the community and the volunteers,” he said.

Do you have history about the Langley Christmas Bureau to share? Contact us at tips@langleyadvancetimes.com.


@JotiGrewal_
joti.grewal@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

LangleyLangley Christmas BureauLocal history

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Langley RCMP are looking for witnesses to an apparent shoot out between two vehicles in Langley City and Brookswood on Saturday morning. (Langley Advance Times files)
Shots fired between speeding cars in Brookswood, Langley City

One or both cars were firing shots at the other in the middle of the night

Township of Langley civic facility. (Langley Advance Times files)
Budget shortfall shrinking in Langley Township

Staff showed council a tightened up budget, without borrowing, on Monday

A Langley woman said she was shaken by the angry encounter. (Google Maps)
Woman shaken after belligerent encounter with unmasked man in Langley store

A man angry about vaccines berated a fellow shopper, a witness said

Cody Younker, Revelstoke city councillor. (Jocelyn Doll/Revelstoke Review)
Revelstoke councillor accused of sexually abusing Langley teen while school chaperone

Lawsuit alleges Cody Younker sexually abused student while volunteering on school trips

Jen Papageorge, 52, with her teenage daughters Keira and Talia are members of the Westcoast Harmony Chorus. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
Syringe is prepared with one of B.C.’s first vials of Pfizer vaccine to prevent COVID-19, Victoria, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 caseload stays steady with 465 more Tuesday

No new outbreaks in health care facilities, 12 more deaths

New Westminster TV production designer, Rick Whitfield, has designed an office in a box for British Columbians in need of a private workspace. (BC Box Office photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. man designs ‘box office’ solution for those working from home

‘A professionally designed workspace on your property, away from the distractions of home’

Chilliwack ER doctor Marc Greidanus is featured in a video, published Jan. 18, 2021, where he demonstrates and describes effectiveness of various styles of masks. (Youtube)
VIDEO: Emergency room doctor runs through pros and cons of various masks

‘We’ve been asked to wear a mask and it’s not that hard,’ Greidanus says.

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Pixabay photo)
VIDEO: Tip to Metro Vancouver transit police helps woman 4,000 km away in Ohio

Sgt. Clint Hampton says transit police were alerted to a YouTube video of the woman in mental distress

A woman types on her laptop in Miami in a Monday, Dec. 12, 2016, photo illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Wilfredo Lee
British Columbia government lax on cybersecurity practices, auditor reports

The audit did not highlight a specific threat, but it found breaches in cybersecurity are increasing globally

A child joins the Uke ‘n Play kickoff event at the Chilliwack Library on Oct. 1, 2016. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Events return, in virtual form, at Fraser Valley Regional Library

People can take part in ukulele jam, bullet journaling, reading groups and more

Cranbrook Food Bank coordinator Deanna Kemperman, Potluck Cafe Society executive director Naved Noorani and Sunshine Coast Community Services Society executive director Catherine Leach join B.C.’s new Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne on a video call about B.C. gaming grants, Jan. 19, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. gaming grants reorganized for COVID-19 priorities

Minister highlights community kitchens, food banks

(Pixabay photo)
‘Cocaine bananas’ arrive at Kelowna grocery stores after mix up from Colombia: RCMP

Kelowna RCMP recently concluded an international drug investigation after finding cocaine in local grocers’ banana shipments in 2019

Most Read