I was discussing my birthday with some folks recently, and mentioned that I was born in the hospital at the top of the hill and had lived in Langley ever since.
One old fella remarked, “Well, over 60 years and you’ve only made it less than a mile from where you were born? Have you no ambition, man?”
My hometown has been a good place for me, I have been lucky in some things and I’ve worked hard for others, and I like to think that where you live depends a lot on how much you put into it. Sitting back and complaining is easy, getting involved means work, but the benefits, personally and for your community, are worth it.
When I was interviewing Langley Pioneers for the book, Reminiscences, Recipes and Remedies, I was always in awe listening to the stories of people who packed up everything and left home to immigrate here.
One lady recalled gathering in her hometown in Holland after the Second World War and listening to Canadian Prime Minister MacKenzie King, who had come to their region. He invited them to leave their war-ravaged country and come to Canada, where they would be welcomed and assisted in making new homes and building our country.
After the decision was made to immigrate, everything was packed in trunks, and even though no one spoke English, they headed to Canada. She spoke of the trip across the Atlantic that was in no way described as a cruise. Next came their arrival in Eastern Canada and their seemingly endless train trip across the country to arrive at the station in Fort Langley.
The government representative met them and took them to their new home. She spoke of the next two years being a time of cutting, plowing, building, crying and praying and raising their family in this new land. A different place and a different time than now, they worked hard and received little outside assistance.
Langley Author Warren Sommer will be launching his new book, Canucks in Khaki on April 9 at St. George’s Church in Fort Langley at 1:30 p.m. His book shares a period of our local history where many others left home, this time Canadians heading overseas to defend our country in the Great War, 1914 -1918.
The book deals with not only the personal lives of the young men, but what effect their leaving had on Langley and surrounding communities as the farms, the fields, the factories and the stores were stripped of strong young men and women.
I am struck by the courage and adventurous nature of people living a comfortable lifestyle who would pack it all up and head for another country, bent on making a difference,.
I have a good life in a great community, thanks to those who left here to defend it and thanks to those who came here to make it prosper.
We get comfortable easily, don’t we? We have to be careful not to complain, not to rant against those who sit at the tables and make the rules and stick their necks out and make decisions. Not all of us have the courage to leave our living rooms and families and try to make a difference.
It might be as simple as joining a committee, coaching a team, or giving a non-profit your time and expertise. Your community is what you make it.
At least that’s what McGregor says.