Historic Dairy Farm. Two prominent Langley families lived in the elegant Wark/Dumais farmhouse on Glover Road. Robert James Wark was reeve (or mayor) from 1914 – 1918, and the Albert Dumais family operated an impressive dairy farm until 1963 (he bought the 160 acre property in 1925 for $15,500). The house was built in three stages by the Warks, with the core constructed in 1890. The kitchen was added in 1900, the verandah in 1910. The Dumais family later dug a basement using horses, scraper ploughs and local help.
The exterior features gingerbread Gothic eave brackets, turned wooden posts and a decorative finial on the roof above the main entrance.
The City of Langley City bought the house and 87 acres for $2 million in 1976 with the intention of developing the land as a regional shopping centre. By 1980 it had been purchased by Douglas College and the Langley Heritage Society began lobbying for preservation.
The house received a Municipal Heritage Designation in 1987, and Langley Heritage Society began a careful restoration, making almost $300,000 worth of improvements.
Wark family roots go back to the origins of European settlement in Langley. Henry Wark was a nephew of John Wark who helped James McMillan locate the original site for Fort Langley at Derby in 1824. Henry became postmaster at Fort Langley and ran the HBC store. In 1868 he purchased the property on the eastern edge of the great Hudson’s Bay Company farm at Milner, not far from the portage route his uncle used during the 1824 exploratory expedition. After Henry’s death in 1890 the property was inherited by his sixteen year old nephew, Robert James Wark. He arrived from Londonderry, Ireland (his family farmed at nearby Bridgend, County Donegal), and with the help of Daniel Carr, built a rudimentary house for his parents and brothers, who arrived with Mrs Rose Ann Carr the following year. Robert married Edith Kirkby, a music teacher from the Island of Jersey, and over the years the family developed Maple Wood Dairy farm. Robert was assisted by Tom Simonds as he expanded the house.
Brothers George and Ernest Dumais were both born in this house (see photo below). During a visit George remarked, “It’s a good feeling to know the house is still here and people are taking care of it.” Their father died in 1952 while milking a cow in the barn; Ernest later farmed the property after finishing high school. Watch our video below.
(Wark Family in car image credit: Langley Centennial Museum
B&W house photo below thanks to Margaret Brezden)