British Columbia

Visit the Langley intersection where little has changed in 130 years

Five corners in Langley doesn’t look much different than it did a hundred years ago.

The Early Edition's Intersections series explores change in Metro Vancouver by looking at 5 intersections

Langley's five-corner intersection where 216 Street meets 48 Avenue hasn't changed much over the last century but the roundabout is fairly new. (David Horemans/CBC)

The five-corner intersection where 216 Street meets 48 Avenue and Old Yale Road in Langley doesn't look much different than it did a hundred years ago.

The bed and breakfast on the corner is nearly identical to the hotel that stood there in the 1880s and the general store building looks the same as it did 130 years ago in the Murrayville area of Langley.

If you take a closer look, however, you can see that the corner has gone through quite an evolution.

As part of its Intersections radio series, CBC's The Early Edition is looking at intersections as microcosms of broader community change.

Wally Martin's Princess and the Pea bed and breakfast in Langley is well over 100 years old. (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

The Princess and Pea

Wally Martin loves both wood and a good challenge and that's what lured him to the area in 1997.

He bought a rundown hotel on the corner against the advice of many.

"It was a complete wreck," he said.

"A couple of council members at the time thought it was ridiculous to save that old bucket and they just said to haul it to the landfill."

Martin knew the Murray family built the hotel in the 1880s and he believed he could restore it.

"There were quite a few elements that were pretty authentically old, like the floors, siding and some of the exterior," he said.

After much hard work, Martin opened the Princess and the Pea Bed and Breakfast and injected new life into the intersection.

The old Porter's General Store building has stood in Langley since the 1880s. (David Horemans/CBC)


Around the same time Martin was starting his new business, Porter's General Store across the street was closing.

The Porter family opened the store in the 1880s, ran it for a century and then converted it into a coffee shop that closed sometime in the 2000s.

"When we first started there was a lack of spots where the community could come together," said Bill Buurmeester, who reopened the building in 2011 as Porter's Bistro Coffee and Tea House.

The cash register behind the counter is the same one used back in 1911.

Karen and Bill Buurmeester wanted to create a community hub when they opened Porter's Bistro Coffee and Tea. (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

There are even a few old receipts stashed in the original wood cabinets.

"I think some people still owe Mr. Porter money," Bill's wife Karen said with a laugh.

On Friday and Saturday nights, Porter's hosts live music nights and members of the Fraser Valley Maker's Space upstairs come down to hang out.

The FV Makers gather on weekends to create things with 3D printers and sewing machines.

Porter's is a community hub again, just like it used to be more than a century ago.

Old meets new

One of the few changes the intersection has seen this millennium is a relatively new roundabout, which replaced five stop signs.

There was talk a couple of years ago that it should be replaced with a traffic light but many people in the community wanted things to stay the same.

Change, after all, doesn't come often to the intersection.

That was fine with the blacksmiths who hung out there 130 years ago and it's fine with FV Makers who use their 3D printer there today.

Keep listening! Catch the rest of the Intersections series on CBC's The Early Edition this week, Feb. 20 - 24, 2017.

To listen to the audio, click on the link labelled Intersections: Visit the Langley intersection where little has changed in 130 years