Odd Thoughts: Two great traditions preserved

A little bit of Langley newspaper history from a longtime editor and reporter.

When I started working at the Langley Advance more than 40 years ago, it was pretty much the only game in town.

There was the Fraser Valley News Herald, but it was in slow but steady decline following the unexpected sudden death of its founder, a former employee of the Advance, and by the time I graduated from being a junior reporter to taking on some editing responsibilities, it had ceased publication.

In its day, it had given the Advance serious competition – a situation that Advance publisher Jim Schatz proudly noted had been unique since his start as a reporter at the paper more than three decades before.

In fact, the Advance’s only real competition up to that point had been the Columbian, a New Westminster-based daily that served as a community newspaper up and down the Fraser Valley since 1859. (Interesting fact, the Columbian was originally called the Times.)

It was because the Columbian was published outside of Langley – in New Westminster – that a newly formed group of local business people, the Langley Board of Trade (now the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce) enticed a young printer from Abbotsford to start a newspaper that would be about and operate entirely in Langley.

The Langley Advance’s first edition hit the streets on July 23, 1931, and after a few years of fierce competition with the Columbian – this was in the very depths of the Great Depression, remember – the Advance emerged as Langley’s de facto community newspaper.

And it remained that way, aside from the News Herald and a few lesser blips along the way, until 1981 when the Langley Times emerged on the local scene.

It was not unusual until then for a community to be served by one local newspaper – it was actually the norm, except for an occasional (and often unsuccessful) foray by a newcomer… in other communities.

But things changed in the 1980s. Longstanding community newspapers were being challenged by competition. And the new reality, in Langley as elsewhere, involved two community newspapers, sometimes living as harmoniously as competition for advertising dollars would allow, sometimes at each other’s throats.

Now reality has changed again. Competition has been redefined by the Internet’s information explosion, and most communities enjoy more sources of information, local and beyond, than ever before. And singular print community newspapers are again the norm.

While competition between the Langley Advance and Langley Times got downright fierce from time to time, Langley was lucky that both proved to be exceptional adversaries – both won numerous regional and national awards and accolades for news reporting, feature and opinion writing, photography, and especially, community service.

I’m mostly retired and no longer on the inside, so I don’t really have a dog in this hunt. But I think it’s fitting that the names of two excellent community journals are preserved in the Langley Advance Times.

Just Posted

Giants ‘hungry’ to win it next year

This Langley-based team of grit, determination, and resilience should be proud: Coach

VIDEO: A damp May Day parade in Fort Langley

Despite poor weather, thousands attended 97th annual procession

Neighbours worry about North Langley marijuana greenhouse

The owner says odours and light will be controlled

United voice calls for more senior services in Aldergrove

‘The people here deserve more’ says founder of the local Seniors Resource Fair

Fraser Valley pup trained in Aldergrove co-stars in A Dog’s Journey

Film premiers this weekend, starting Friday in Canadian theatres

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Man arrested after police standoff and fire at Abbotsford home

Suspect allegedly breached conditions to not be near victim or her home

Growing wildfire prompts evacuation of High Level, Alta.

Chuckegg Creek fire has been burning for several day, but grew substantially Sunday

Top women’s hockey player Natalie Spooner coming to B.C.

Natalie Spooner special guest at annual Grindstone charity weekend in Kelowna

Take-home drug testing kits latest pilot to help curb B.C.’s overdose crisis

Researchers look to see if fentanyl testing could be a useful tool for those who use drugs alone

UPDATE: Highway 1 reopened after multi-vehicle crash east of Chilliwack

Westbound lanes near Herrling Island were closed for hours amid busy holiday weekend traffic

Police watchdog investigating motorcycle crash in Kamloops

A Kamloops Mountie had stopped the driver for speeding, but they raced off from the 0fficer

Facebook takes down anti-vaxxer page that used image of late Canadian girl

Facebook said that the social media company has disabled the anti-vaccination page

Search crews rescue kids, 6 and 7, stranded overnight on Coquitlam mountain

Father and two youngsters fall down a steep, treacherous cliff while hiking Burke Mountain

Most Read