The French Connection. Built in 1888 by Joseph and Georgiana Michaud , this was home to the first French Canadian family in Langley. Today the house sits on a quiet street near the heart of the city, but it was once part of a thriving dairy farm. The first Roman Catholic mass was said within its walls, before an old school house was moved to the family’s hay field to become St Joseph’s. The church was named after Joseph’s uncle, a priest who came west during the gold rush of 1858 to build Victoria’s first Catholic church.
Joseph’s older brother Maximilian arrived in 1869 after taking the train and walking from Montreal. He acquired land and bought Vancouver’s Brighton Hotel, which became the Hastings Hotel, also known as “Maxie’s”. It was reputed to feature fine liquors and cigars and the city’s first post office in the kitchen. Some attractive architectural features of Michaud House include Gingerbread Gothic brackets supporting the door hood, turned wooden posts and a corbelled brick chimney. The Beaulieu family later ran a successful dairy operation on the same property.
Shortly after it purchased the home, the City of Langley designated Michaud House a heritage site in 1980. The Langley Heritage Society and Langley Arts Council began restoration at that time, with financial assistance from the British Columbia Heritage Trust and the Michaud family. This was the first major renovation undertaken by the Langley Heritage Society requiring considerable work: flood-proofing the basement, re-roofing, painting, repairs to the windows and siding. Exterior colours were matched as closely as possible to the original palette, and Victorian era wallpapers were sourced for the interior.
Today the house is managed and maintained by Langley Heritage Society and occupied by a tenant who keeps the gardens as lovely and vibrant as they were under Madame Michaud’s watch.
The Michaud’s parlour with its piano, sofa & chairs, glass lamps, china and family photos has been recreated at the Langley Centennial Museum from family donations. Pay a visit at 9135 King Street in Fort Langley. (The Langley Memorial Hospital Archive Museum is now housed in the family parlour.)
Image of Joseph & Georgiana Michaud and Michaud Family wedding: Langley Centennial Museum. Barns & dairy cattle, thanks to Beaulieu family. Drawing by Al Colton.