Milner Blacksmith: George Robert Moir and his wife Christian sailed from Glasgow to Quebec in 1908. Their final destination: tiny Milner, British Columbia. George was a master blacksmith and soon set up shop near the family house that was built in 1909. The blacksmith shop was central to the emerging agricultural village of Milner, situated on the main road linking Fort Langley with Murrayville and Langley Prairie. The old board and batten shop is gone, but the house remains as an important connection to early settlement at Milner, and is typical of houses built in that era. After George died in 1933 many of his tools were donated to the Langley Centennial Museum; a fully working Moir Blacksmith Shop is found next door at the BC Farm Museum in Fort Langley. (George’s brother Frank worked in the shop until the late 1970s.) The house was sold to the Mercer family in the 1940s and has seen numerous owners since. The Township of Langley owns the property and house, and asked Langley Heritage Society to take on the project to restore the house’s exterior, upgrade the interior for tenants and to create a permanent space for the C.A.R.E.S. cat shelter which is now located in an outbuilding on the property (see photo below). Messages like this make it all worthwhile: “My sister and I were through Langley this past Sunday and looked up our Grandfather George Moir‘s house after I saw it on your website. It was great seeing the home of our grandparents and our dad Lyall. This was the highlight of our trip and we were delighted to find it. Thanks for the interest in preserving this bit of history”. Janice in Saskatchewan.
Back in 1910 the future looked especially bright for Milner according to The British Columbian newspaper: “Milner looks forward to a time in the near future when it will be one of the most important communities between New Westminster and Chilliwack….The history of Milner commenced two years ago, when H.A MacDonald & Company recognizing the advantages offered with the coming of the railway through the valley, established a general store at the junction of the Townline road and the Langley trunk road, opposite to the Methodist church. The post office was transferred to the store and the village was started. A blacksmith shop shortly afterward was opened by Mr Moir, and now there is a branch of the bank of Hamilton and an exchange of the B.C. Telephone, the latter housed in a permanent and comfortable home…”
Next time you’re visiting Milner Church during one of our society’s Speaker Series events, view the collection of archival photos like the blacksmith shop below (courtesy of Langley Centennial Museum). They’re wonderfully evocative of life in the village.