Surrey resident Helen Williams is the new manager of the CN Station in Fort Langley. Mark Forsythe photo

Wanted: volunteers for CN station in historic Fort Langley

Langley Heritage Society calls for helpers at notable tourist attraction

The new manager at the CN Station in Fort Langley is sending out a signal for volunteers.

Helen Williams is recruiting volunteers to help interpret the station’s unique story, and the railroad’s impact on the Fraser Valley.

“The best part of volunteering at the CN Station is the feeling that volunteers get from sharing what they know and learned about the railroad in their community with others,” Williams said.

The 1915 station is operated by the Langley Heritage Society, which restored the building 35 years ago.

Volunteers saved the station from demolition in the early 1980s, and they continue to be integral to its operation, Williams said.

Bays Blackhall was in charge of recruiting and training the volunteers at the station.

“Sadly, she passed away almost a year ago and left some big shoes to fill ‘Down By The Station,’” Williams said.

Originally located 300 metres to the west, the station was moved by society volunteers after the building was declared a Municipal Heritage Site in 1983.

“A few people stood up and fought and got it (the station) moved…, then spent a couple years restoring it, and they added the caboose and the railcar.”

The volunteers who restored the site called themselves ‘the railroaders,’ Williams noted. “There are some incredible people in the community who spent two years in the railcar, getting it ready. We wouldn’t be around without volunteers, for what the people put in, the hours (and) the commitment.”

The station draws visitors from around the world. Step inside an original waiting room and ticket office with telegraph station. A 1920s caboose features a spectacular model railway and the E & E Taylor passenger car is loaded with Canadian National Railways memorabilia. Local artists also host a summer art gallery in the station’s baggage area.

“I am thrilled to play a small part in helping visitors learn the importance of the railroad, and about the individuals who operated stations like this one, before the age of the automobile,” said Williams, who lives in Surrey.

All volunteers will be trained by the society.

Volunteers keep the station chugging along, stressed Williams, who notes she needs a “minimum amount” of helpers to keep all aspects of the site open to the public.

“I need three volunteers: one for the station, one for the caboose, and one for the railcar, and I am floating around,” she added. “They help us to interpret.”

Volunteers are needed to help with the model train in the caboose, but some special skills will be needed to work in this area.

“If I don’t have someone for the caboose, because we have a very intricate railway model there… if I can’t have someone there, I can’t have the caboose open,” Williams said. “I have to make a call as to what stays open.”

For more information and to see a Fort Langley CN Station video, visit www.langleyheritage.ca. Follow the Volunteer link at the bottom of the website to download a volunteer application form and send it to volunteer@langleyheritage.ca

The CN Station will launch its new season on the Victoria Day weekend.

 

The 1915 CN Station in Fort Langley is operated by the Langley Heritage Society, which restored the building 35 years ago. Mark Forsythe photo

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