My Hometown Top Travel

Historic Langley, BC perfectly mixes suburban and rural

The mouth of the Fraser River. Today it’s a picturesque pier, but it was previously a refueling stop for gold prospectors. (Parker Zhang/YJI)

Langley, British Columbia, CANADA – Located an hour away from the heart of Vancouver (excluding the horrible traffic) is the Township of Langley.

No, not the city of Langley, the Township – there are two Langleys right beside each other and there might be a feud?

The Township is the perfect mix of suburban and rural. Just a 5-minute drive from where I live in Walnut Grove, I can see horses grazing in fields, and the local big-box supermarkets are just as close.

At Fort Langley there are lots of museums and wacky photo opportunities. The author poses on a tractor at the BC Farm Museum. (YJI photo)

For those who want to escape the city lights, there are plenty of campgrounds nearby but rest assured, if you are in an emergency, the latest medical technologies are always close. This is where I could also ramble about free healthcare, but I’ll spare you.

Langley can trace its origins to the beginning of settling British Columbia. Fort Langley, a trading and military outpost, was one of the Hudson Bay’s fur trading posts. Additionally, it also acted as a gateway to the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush in 1858, where it was at the mouth of the Fraser River.

It is one of the oldest settlements in British Columbia – even before Vancouver itself. If you take a stroll in the Fort Langley community, it is very different from the ruggedness of just a few generations prior.

Restored Fort Langley with lots of hipster shops. (Parker Zhang/YJI)

If you take a stroll in the Fort Langley community, it is very different from the ruggedness just a few generations prior. Today, a refurbished town center has a sweet old-timey vibe that serves as a tourism hotspot for history junkies and those that want to dine by the pier.

Today, a refurbished town center has a sweet old-timey vibe that serves as a tourism hotspot for history junkies and those who want to dine by the pier.

If you were looking for that more typical American suburbia, travel a few kilometers east and you’ll reach Walnut Grove. The residents of my community affectionately dub it the “most tame place on Earth.”

Mass development of the area began in 1979, meaning that in terms of history it’s relatively insignificant. Its lack of historical footprint, however, is made up of a wonderfully designed community with its high school, community center and library right at the center of it all. It has shopping – and most importantly – Starbucks nearby.

There are many other communities in Langley Township, but I have not had the pleasure of visiting all of them. I’ve never needed to go beyond Walnut Grove – proving just how comfortable it is to live here. 

Suburban Whistler, a ski village, offers Vancouver’s gorgeous views. (Parker Zhang/YJI)

If I want to do some shopping, I drive northwest towards Metrotown which is the largest shopping center in British Columbia and only second to the West-Edmonton Mall.

At the Metropolis of Metrotown, I can catch a blockbuster film, shop designer brands, enjoy international cuisine, or loiter among the angsty teens who make up the majority of Metrotown patrons.

Metrotown, a community in Burnaby, is a suburb of Vancouver. (Parker Zhang/YJI)

But say you’re a cosmopolitan socialite. You crave attention. Only raves can satisfy your thirst for adventure. Look no further than the alleged stoner capital of Canada, Vancouver.

Ignoring the dense generalizations the rest of Canada likes to make, Vancouver truly is the place to be. If you can afford the housing prices, Vancouver takes views to another level. Vancouverites are so concerned with preserving their views that municipal by-laws restrict building heights to a maximum of 700 feet.

The upscale workout clothing brand Lululemon is made in Vancouver. (Parker Zhang/YJI)

As a reader, you must be pretty confused about where my hometown truly is. All I can say is Greater Vancouver – the metropolitan area is less than 3,000 square kilometers, or less than 2,000 square miles – is quite small compared to its American counterparts.

Having moved quite a bit within Greater Vancouver, I don’t feel attached to a specific area. I feel a connection to the idea as a whole. 

I don’t think I can live here for the rest of my life. While its weather is arguably the best in the world – I’d take rain over heatwaves any day – the housing market is truly untenable.

Skyrocketing prices are driving young people out of this great city and affordable housing is a key Canadian election issue. I hope that I can explore the world while knowing my roots come from the truly diverse city of Greater Vancouver. 

Parker Zhang is a Junior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

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