Robert Wark

CRUISE-IN: Cars have long local history in Langley

This community's automotive history began before the First World War.

Langley has been a centre of auto enthusiasts for decades. But when did Langley’s love affair with the car begin?

There are two candidates for the first car owner in Langley, according to local historian Warren Sommer.

A man named Patrick Hickey may have had the first vehicle. But most accounts say it was the better known Robert Wark who bought and drove the first car in Langley.

Wark, who was reeve (mayor) of Langley during the First World War, was photographed in 1913 at the wheel of his vehicle in front of the Wark-Dumais house, which still stands today near the Kwantlen Polytechnic University campus.

Also still in place is the oldest piece of paving in the Langleys – the Wark home’s driveway, off Glover Road.

Wark had two strips of concrete laid to his house from the road, with gravel between them. This was more than a decade before Old Yale Road would become Langley’s first paved street.

“The story is that people would have come out to marvel at his folly,” said Sommer. “There wasn’t a lot of entertainment in those days.”

The first garages came during or just after the First World War, as car and truck travel became more common.

“A lot of them, of course, were blacksmith’s shops that adjusted,” said Kobi Christian of the Langley Centennial Museum.

Reid’s Blacksmith Shop in Fort Langley was started around 1910, but spent most of its working life as a garage. The site now hosts the Blacksmith Bakery named in honour of its original purpose.

One of the early garages that stuck around was owned and operated by Alf Marr, the brother of Langley’s first doctor.

Marr’s Yale Garage opened in 1926 and operated in Langley Prairie until a New Year’s Eve fire in 1935 burned it to the ground. Marr rebuilt and ran the garage until 1940 when he retired.

A few years before Marr closed up, the longest running shop in Langley’s history opened on Fraser Highway.

Barron’s Service opened its doors in 1938. It would run on the same spot as a service station and repair shop until 1997, with founder William Barron and then his sons Delroy and Walt running it.

Buying cars in Langley didn’t begin until the 1940s.

In 1941, mechanic Ernie Greenfield opened his own garage, after working in several others in what was then called Langley Prairie.

He would later become Langley’s first car dealer – not that he actually had cars on the lot.

Greenfield’s Langley Motors sold British-built Austins, but if you wanted to see one, you had to make an appointment and have one brought out from Vancouver.

Fraser Valley Motors followed in 1945, with Ford and Mercury vehicles, and Langley Used Car Sales opened in 1948.

That business opened at 200th Street and Fraser Highway. More and more auto dealers followed, and by 1973, advertised themselves as “Langley’s Automotive Row.”

PHOTO: Barron’s Service was the longest-serving gas station and garage in the Langleys. (Del Barron photo)


Langley Good Times Cruise-In – what it’s all about

Car clubs come cruising

What’s a car show with music and entertainment

Sunday swap meet – auto parts and much more

Being part of the car show board made her a car buff

Pets won’t enjoy the auto show

Nostalgia night at Langley’s drive-in

New 50/50 draw offered

Just Posted

Langley takedown linked to murder conspiracy case

Dramatic arrest was part of Taskforce Tourniquet, a multi-agency police gang investigation

Aldergrove community stakeholders react to town centre plans

‘The mall has been an eyesore for many years,’ says Home Hardware owner

WATCH: Langley teen singer a finalist in international competition

Langley’s Sean Thomas, 17, is a finalist in the International Songwriting Competition.

Music students to stage protest performances in Langley

Sunday demonstration planned to oppose budget cuts at Kwantlen Polytechynic University

Langley Mustangs runner sets Canadian record

Sarah Inglis celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with a standout performance at the Canadian All Comers race

After mosque attacks, New Zealand bans ‘military-style’ guns

The gunman killed 50 in a Christchurch mosque

ICBC shifts to Alberta model, with higher rates, private insurers say

Minor injury cap, court restrictions take effect April 1 in B.C.

B.C., feds accused of ‘environmental racism’ over Site C, Mount Polley

Amnesty International Canada says governments failed to recognize threats to Indigenous peoples

New Leger polls suggests federal Liberals lagging Conservatives

Overall, 31 per cent of respondents polled said they would vote for Justin Trudeau’s Liberals

Two men charged in Lower Mainland grocery store stabbing in 2018

Coquitlam RCMP say the incident is ‘believed to be targeted’

Number of homeless deaths more than doubled in B.C. as opioid crisis set in

New data shows trend between more overdose deaths and the number of people dying in the street

Four people spat on in ‘random, unprovoked’ assaults: Vancouver police

Police ask additional victims to come forward after woman in a wheelchair spat on

Driver sought in Vancouver hit-and-run that sent two to hospital

A man and woman were crossing Fraser Street early Monday morning when they were hit

Most Read