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Langley Heritage Society restores century-old barn in Old Yale Park

Barn to get facelift after being empty for decades
Langley Heritage Society president Fred Pepin outside the barn in Old Yale Park. The society is restoring the barn this year. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

The main occupants of the old barn in Langley Township’s Old Yale Park for the past few years have been swallows and an owl who has nested in a box on the upper floor.

The owl is still there, determined to keep his nest despite the fact that workers have been roaming all over his home, making noise as they fix up the century-old structure.

The barn is getting a major upgrade this year, courtesy of the Langley Heritage Society and its volunteers.

Heritage Society president Fred Pepin said the barn, located at 22495 Old Yale Road, is approximately 100 years old, or a bit older.

The barn is thought to have been built shortly after the Vancouver, Victoria and Eastern Railway line that ran through the Murrayville area began operating. The railway was about 100 feet back of the barn, Pepin noted.

Today it stands adjacent to the community garden, and across from the dog park, so it’s a familiar feature to hundreds of locals who use the park on a daily basis. The fact that a number of park users asked about the barn’s status was one impetus for the Heritage Society’s work to preserve it.

The barn has been empty and unused for several decades, and had been in poor repair, and the Heritage Society has taken on the task of rebuilding its decaying components.

“First of all, we have to replace the roof,” said Pepin.

That work began in March, with contractor Darwin Development & Construction working on the sub-roof. The week of April 8, they were to put the new roof in place.

“Quite a bit of the work will be done from volunteers from here on,” Pepin said.

Pepin himself cut new hemlock struts to hold up the lower half of the hip-shaped roof, using his home sawmill.

Siding has to be replaced, and some sections of the wall will also have to be rebuilt.

But Pepin said other sections of the barn are still pretty sturdy.

The barn, like many in Langley, was originally built to be part of a dairy operation. That means it was built to support 40 to 50 tons of hay.

Its lower areas had pens for livestock. Outside are the remains of a large concrete box that once held the milk tank, where milk could be kept cool until it was collected for distribution.

The project should be done by sometime in July, if all goes well, Pepin said.

The building is part of the agricultural history of the Lower Mainland and Langley, which saw a huge number of small dairy farms in the early 20th century.

Pepin noted that even 40 years ago, when he was on the board of directors of the Fraser Valley Milk Producers, there were about 4,200 dairy farms in the region producing milk. Now there are about 400, and dairy operations have grown bigger and more concentrated.

Although the building is on Township land and will remain owned by the Township, Pepin said the Heritage Society will be taking on all the costs of contractors and materials.

“I’d like to stay under $100,000,” he said of the budget.

Once it’s complete, he hopes the building will be put to use again. The lower floor might become a rentable space for non-profits to use in the summer months.

READ ALSO: Langley Heritage Society president honoured with award of merit

Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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