A “feel-good project” that brought community together, organizer said
by DAN FERGUSON / Jun. 4, 2018 / LANGLEY TIMES
The new Fort Langley Memory Grove officially opened Saturday in Fort Langley with a ribbon-cutting, plaque unveiling and a fly-past.
Thirty trees have been arranged as a place to stop and relax on the Salmon River Trail between the Fort to Fort Trail and Billy Brown Road.
Each tree has their own name, many of them whimsical like “may contain nuts,” “bloomers” and “where pigs fly.” “We wanted to give personalities to the trees so everyone who sponsored a tree was asked to select a name,” said Kurt Alberts, one of the organizers of the project.
Fort Langley resident Janel Doyle named one tree after her son, Linc, as a way of expressing in literal terms how her family has taken root in Fort Langley.] “He’s the most important thing in our life,” she said of her son. “It gives him a legacy. No matter what happens in life, he’s got a place to come (visit) and he’ll always have the memories of being in Fort Langley.”
Seventeen horse chestnuts, 11 grand firs and two western red cedars were planted by contractor Heidelberg Landscaping. Members of the First Fort Langley Scout Group planted riparian shrubs, including Red Twig Dogwood, Twinberry, White Snowberry and Evergreen Huckleberry.
The project was inspired by the legacy left nearly a century ago by Dr. Benjamin Marr, who planted trees in front of the Marr House and the Fort Langley Cemetery on Glover Road that have grown to form a towering canopy over the road. Marr planted 17 Horse Chestnuts on the west side, and seven Horse Chestnuts, alternated with Western Red Cedars, on the east side. In the cemetery, more Western Red Cedars were planted to form the backdrop for the cenotaph, along with Rhododendrons.
Alberts said the inspiration to build on that legacy goes back to a meeting he had with Dr. Marr’s son, Bill Marr, a number of years ago. Bill, who passed away at the age of 100 in February, was only four-years-old when his father planted the heritage trees.
“It was a feel-good project,” Alberts said, one that brought the community together. Alberts said pulling off such an ambitious legacy project required a lot of volunteers and businesses to come together. “It’s one thing to have an idea, but its one thing to actually make it happen,” Alberts said. “The dollars are pretty significant.”
If it wasn’t for the success of the Grove fund-raising gala on April 19, “We wouldn’t have been able to pull this off,” Alberts said. Alberts estimated the cost at about $50,000, not including the pro bono efforts of Mark van der Zalm, whose landscaping company donated staff and time.
Van der Zalm, who was MC at the opening, said the Grove would provide “a node on the trail where people can stop and rest for a moment.” Township Mayor Jack Froese called it a “very special project” that will benefit future generations “It’s great to see this grove come to life” Froese said.
Alberts presented a community spirit award to Lee’s Market for their support of the project. Following the ribbon cutting, there was a fly-past by the Fraser Blues formation flying team.