Seventy years ago on July 14, 1948 a crowd waited in the heat at the top of the hill on Fraser Highway, two miles east of the town of Langley Prairie. Ladies in summer dresses, hats and gloves; gentlemen in suits, ties and fedoras, and children in their Sunday best had gathered to celebrate the opening of their community-owned hospital for which they had waited six years.
Langley Memorial Hospital, at the top of what would soon become known as Hospital Hill, opened that day to much fanfare and not a little gratitude to the many people who had made it happen. Finally, citizens of Langley Prairie, as it was then known, would not have to totally rely on the big city institutions for their health care, and it would eliminate hours of travel to obtain that service.
The building which, when the 1965 tower was opened, became known as the Cottage Hospital, was one storey with only 35 beds at the beginning, expanding to 51 before its closure as an acute care facility. But it was more than a glorified nursing home – much more. Major surgeries were performed on a regular basis by skilled family physicians as well as visiting specialists and – after a few years – Langley’s first full time surgeon. Visiting specialties in all fields of medicine were readily available from Vancouver and New Westminster to attend the most challenging cases.
Throughout those first years of the new hospital the citizens of Langley did not fold their hands, considering their work done. Those who were able grew gardens designated for the hospital; they brought sides of beef, eggs and chickens to the kitchen door; they organized fund raisers to support the new facility which was administered by a Board of Trustees under the Langley Memorial Hospital Society.
This year, on July 14, exactly 70 years to the day that the hospital opened, the LMH Heritage Committee will host a celebration at Michaud House, the home of the LMH archival museum. The public is cordially invited to enjoy refreshments, live music, artifacts, lovely gardens and, of course, memories.
The festivities will begin at 1:30 p.m. and will continue until 4 o’clock. Michaud House is at 5202 204th Street in Langley City. Come celebrate your hospital, and share your memories with us.
LMH Heritage Committee