It was a hotspot for Langley families to enjoy a cool dip, long before it was established as a regional park.
Known at the time as Aldergrove Beach, the man-made lake, formerly located near 272 Street and 8 Avenue, was once the site of the Woodstock-like Aldergrove Beach Rock Festival, and a summer tradition for thousands of Langley and Abbotsford residents.
By the late 1960s, the popular swimming hole and surrounding trails had been transformed into one of the first regional parks by the Greater Vancouver Regional District (now Metro Vancouver).
Aldergrove Regional Park was one of several natural areas identified to be preserved when the regional parks system was created in 1967. Other parks, including Campbell Valley in south Langley, Belcarra in Port Moody, Boundary Bay in Delta, Capilano River in North and West Vancouver and Kanaka Creek in Maple Ridge, were all established by 1969.
Fifty years later, there are now 23 parks, three park reserves, two ecological conservancy areas, and five greenways that make up the 14,500-hectare Metro Vancouver Regional Parks system — several of which are located in Langley.
“They’re important because they are large parks and they preserve large natural areas, or ecosystems that are not that commonly found in our region anymore,” said Frieda Schade, Metro Vancouver director of regional parks.
“Forests, fields, mountains, riversides — it’s the size of them and their natural qualities that are really, really now known to be important. They maintain biodiversity … and they are important in allowing the region to adapt to climate change.”
In celebration of their 50th year of regional parks, Metro Vancouver has created a Regional Parks Passport, and is holding several special events throughout 2017.
The passport — available both in a soft-cover booklet and through the “MVPassport” smartphone app — lists public events, maps and facts about each regional park. Residents can collect stamps for every visit to a park or nature house to earn commemorative stickers, crests and pins.
There will also be documentary videos of regional park champions posted online, along with a “Humans of Regional Parks” storytelling series.
“I think the main thing that we’re known for is they’re just really nice places to go for a walk,” said Schade.
“Every park has trails, and then some parks have special places for people to gather, like small picnic areas … Some of the parks have beaches and waterfronts for swimming or wading (or) for fishing. And so they have a real variety of activities.”
Other regional parks in Langley include Derby Reach, which was established in 1978. Its rich history dates back to the 1800s, when First Nations introduced Derby settlers to the local berries and fish of the area. In 1827, the Hudson’s Bay Company built the first Fort Langley, which was later rebuilt further upstream. In 1995, additional land was acquired that includes pine bog forest, and in 2001, the heritage area officially opened.
Across the Fraser River is Brae Island Regional Park, which came about when Fort Camping opened for Expo ’86. In 1995, the land was acquired for a regional park, and in 2009, the Tavistock Loop Trail opened, completing the park’s trail system.
Further east on the Langley/Abbotsford border is Glen Valley Regional Park. Located on the banks of the Fraser River, the park was established in 1994, and in 2007, the West Creek Wetlands were acquired.
Hard copies of the Regional Parks Passport are available at two locations at Campbell Valley Regional Park. They will be at the Regional Parks East Area Office, 1558 200 St., Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and at the Campbell valley Nature House, 20285 8 Ave., weekends and statutory holidays from 1 to 4 p.m. and Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. (May 20 to Sept. 4).
For more information, visit www.metrovancouver.org and search “Celebrate Parks.”
2017 REGIONAL PARK EVENTS IN LANGLEY
Metro Vancouver photo Aldergrove Regional Park Meteor Shower Watch Aug. 12, 8 to 11 p.m. Peer through telescopes and search the night sky for the Perseid meteor shower. Enjoy lantern-lit trails and glow-in-the-dark theatre skits. Camp overnight to extend your stargazing experience. Langley Times File Photo Brae Island Regional Park Bedford Channel Paddle July 15, 10 a.m. to noon Try your skills in a kayak or be part of a group in a voyageur canoe. Langley Times File Photo Campbell Valley Regional Park Country Celebration Sept. 16 and 27, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Celebrate conservation and sustainable living while enjoying live performances and interactive nature displays. Campbell Valley Regional Park Campbell Valley Nature House Weekends and statutory holidays, 1 to 4 p.m. and Wednesdays, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., May 20 to Sept. 4 Check out interactive displays, dissect owl pellets, and explore the pond this spring and summer. Langley Times File Photo Derby Reach Regional Park Heritage Apple Day Oct. 7, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Try your hand at old-fashioned chores and enjoy fiddlers, artists and historians. Sample a variety of apples, one of the introduced crops of the early settlers of Derby Reach.