The passing of Langley pioneer Hugh Davis severs an important link to the community’s past, writes Frank Bucholtz. In this photo from 2012, Davis holds a picture of himself taken in 1953. The farm where he grew up has been in his family since 1882, when his grandfather bought 121 acres at a Hudson’s Bay Company auction. Langley Times File Photo

Hugh Davis’ reverence for Langley was boundless

Passing of pioneer severs an important link with community’s history

Hugh Davis, who passed away at age 93 on Oct. 2, was one of the last links with the early days of Langley Township.

He was the third generation of the Davis family to operate an active and vibrant dairy farm on a portion of the Hudson’s Bay Company lands in Milner. The HBC farm was established in Milner in 1835 in an effort to broaden the economic activity conducted at nearby Fort Langley. It was the first farm in the Fraser Valley, predating the establishment of British Columbia by 24 years.

The Davis farm land, known as Davistead, was bought by his grandfather Henry in 1882. Hugh’s father Harold was born on the farm in 1895, and Hugh was born there on Sept. 6, 1924. While some of the land was sold over the years, Hugh was able to buy some back, and it now stands at 100 acres. The Davises also lease additional farmland in the Milner valley to grow crops to feed to their cows.

It is now operated by Hugh’s son David,and his family. The Davis family farm is thus already in its fifth generation. It represents the fullest and truest definition of a family farm.

A wonderful video by BCIT broadcast journalism students Vanessa Ybarra, Sonia Stirling and Caroline Carter, compiled in 2010, offers a good look at the farm and its origins, and at Hugh himself.

It can be found here.

Hugh Davis didn’t finish high school, but he had more practical knowledge than many people who’ve spent decades in classrooms. His interests centred around the land, and its intricate soils and waterways, but he knew a great deal about many other subjects. He knew more about the HBC farm than anyone.

One of the most fascinating conversations I ever had with anyone during my years at the Times was with Hugh.

We met, by chance, at the opening of the Golden Ears Bridge between Langley and Maple Ridge in 2009. On that day, the bridge was only open to foot traffic, so we walked across the bridge together, and then back again.

He told me how he had never read a book since his days in school. He preferred to gain practical knowledge, and he had plenty of it.

He also told me how he liked to go to bridge openings, as they represented a significant change in the flow of people and goods in the region. One of the first ones he attended was in 1937, when the Pattullo Bridge opened.

The insights he offered as we conversed about a broad range of topics were fascinating. I would liken it to hearing words of wisdom from a philosopher or professor — but always tinged with the air of practicality that is usually missing from those types of discourses.

He frequently attended Langley Township council meetings, both before and after his son David was elected to council.

He was keenly interested in ensuring that farmland was preserved in Langley, and that farmers would be able to make a living on their land, while acting as stewards of the natural resources they managed.

He loved Langley with a passion. He was not alone in this, but his reverence for this community, its history and particularly its natural advantages was boundless.

He was very happy that his grandchildren were growing up on the farm and were taking more and more interest in it. They were old enough that not only could they do various chores, but they were able to understand the importance of the family working together to ensure that the farm was a success.

Hugh will be fondly remembered on Saturday at a celebration of life at the Kings School, located adjacent to the farm at 21783 76B Ave., off 216 Street. It begins at 3 p.m.

Frank Bucholtz is a retired editor. He writes monthly for the Langley Times, as well as sharing his insights on his Frankly Speaking blog. It can found at frankbucholtz.blogspot.ca.

Just Posted

VIDEO: Vancouver Giants stretch win streak to four by crowning Victoria Royals

Home team owned the play and won despite running into a hot goaltender on Friday

VIDEO: The Force will be with bidders at massive Stars Wars auction

Able Auctions at 19757 92A Ave. hosts event that’s open to public Saturday

Van fire sends plume of black smoke into sky above Willowbrook

Vehicle a charred shell in fire that slowed Friday commute home

South Surrey shots-fired accused due back in court Jan. 2

Cameron Barton arrested Sept. 25 in White Rock

AHUS patient Shantee Anaquod is home for Christmas

Less than a month after receiving first dose of $750K drug, 23 year old healthy enough to go home

VIDEO: Average Canadian food bill to rise by $348 in 2018

Atlantic Canada and B.C. will see the most increases for consumers

Family Christmas fun at Aldergrove’s Loft Country farm

The Loft Country children’s horse camp in Aldergrove is celebrating Christmas in a new way this year

Court denies WestJet’s bid to toss out discrimination lawsuit of former worker

Mandalena Lewis is suing WestJet over allegations of gender-based discrimination

VIDEO: 3 months later, rescued sea lion released back into ocean

The young animal was found in Campbell River three months ago

Sagmoen neighbours recall alleged hammer attack

Woman was screaming outside Maple Ridge townhouse in 2013

UPDATED: Train collides with car in Maple Ridge

Mother and child both uninjured, track cleared at 11 a.m.

Accused B.C. drug smuggler to be extradited

Supreme Court of Canada upholds extradition order for accused Shuswap drug smuggler, Colin Martin

One convicted, two cleared in 2014 deaths of men in B.C.’s Cariboo

Andrew Jongbloets convicted of manslaughter in deaths of Matthew Hennigar, 23 and Kalvin Andy, 22

VIDEO: Pedestrian struck by vehicle caught on security camera

Incident points to danger on the roads not only in low light but also in bright sunshine

Most Read