Trinity Western University

History of the Land

3000-8000 BC

There is a continuous record of occupation of [the area] by Aboriginal people dating from the early Holocene period, 5,000 to 10,000 years ago. Archaeological evidence from the early period has been found throughout the region, including sites at Stave Lake, Coquitlam Lake and Fort Langley.

Previous to European colonization the area had been peopled by the Coquitlam sub-tribe, who were invaded and pushed out by the Kwantlen.


Simon Fraser and his crew were the first Europeans to explore the Fraser River to its mouth.


McMillan Park Sign

TWU Archives Item No. 1998-01-2226b

James McMillan led a group of explorers who camped at a site adjacent to what is now Glover Road, and on the property currently owned by Trinity Western University (TWU).

A historic marker and sign were placed at this site in 1974 [pictured right], in a joint project sponsored by TWU and the Langley Chamber of Commerce.


The Hudson's Bay Company had established a fur trade post in the valley at Langley, near the Salmon River.


[John] McLoughlin gave orders to cultivate as much of the land as possible. This was the commencement of what was long known as the “Hudson's Bay Farm”.


The market afforded by the Gold Rush of 1858 ceased, and the farm became a liability instead of an asset.


April 12 — A grant was made from the Crown to the ‘Governor and Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudson’s Bay’ of the Hudson’s Bay Farm as Lots 21 and 22, Group 2, New Westminster District, the first lot containing 500 acres and the other 1500 acres. These lots were subdivided into twenty blocks of 100 acres each. The lots were sold at various times from 1883 to 1891 to private individuals.

Chief Trader Roderick Finlayson, the inspecting officer of the Hudson’s Bay Company, paid a visit to Fort Langley. Alarmed at the deteriorating conditions, he asked Clerk Ovid Allard to come down from Fort Yale and take charge of Fort Langley and the Great Langley Prairie Farm. Allard’s task was to clean up the mess left by two English adventurers, one of whom was Charles John R. Bedford, who had leased the farm in 1859. The pair milked the farm for all its worth during the three year period and then mysteriously disappeared. In no time Allard had the farm back to full productivity and was supplying hay, grain, bacon, and butter to the miners who had discovered the mother lode of gold in the Cariboo in the early 1860s.

Allard rehired William Henry Emptage and gave him the job of caring for the cows and horses about the fort and weeding the neglected garden. Emptage had worked for the company on the farm (1856-1858) before it was leased to the English adventurers.


According to a list published in The History of Fort Langley, 1827-96, by Mary K. Cullen (Parks Canada, 1979), Lot 20 was purchased by Wilson Toole [likely a typo, for Towle]


Old Land Map

Source: The Langley Story Illustrated, by Donald E. Waite (Maple Ridge, B.C, 1977)

A lot adjoining the Langley Farm (numbered 20 on the map [pictured right]) was owned by William Henry Emptage.

The University is now situated on land comprised of what was the eastern corner of the Towle property, the northern corner of the property belonging to the Jardine family, as well as the western portion of the Emptage property.


The BC Electric Railway was extended from Cloverdale to Abbotsford.

The station located in the northeast corner of what had been the Langley Farm was named the Jardine Station, in honour of John Jardine.


According to Ada Thiessen, the Smith family bought the “Langley Farm” in 1916, “and the man that owned it before was Emptage. And he had two daughters at Fort Langley.”

Presumably then, the property the Smith family purchased in 1916 was the lot that had belonged to the Emptage family, and the man who had owned it immediately prior to the Smiths was William Emptage Junior, who had two daughters.

Circa 1930

The Smith family sold the property.


President Hanson

TWU Archives Item No. 1998-01-3479b

By the 1950s the property on which Trinity Western University is now located was known as Seal Kap Farm [pictured right].

Dan Armstead invented and patented a unique cap for milk bottles - hence the name of the farm.


July 13 — At the age of 75, Dan Armstead passed away. Not long afterwards, his wife moved to North Vancouver, selling the Langley property to businessmen John Jacob Grauer and Geert Harm Keur, from whom the property was purchased by the Evangelical Free Church of America, for the founding of the school.


An option was taken on the 115-acre Seal Kap Farm.


The Women's Missionary Society of the Evangelical Free Church donated $18,000 towards the construction of a chapel / library building, to be completed before the fall of 1962.


The dairy barn was converted for temporary use as a gymnasium. It became affectionately known as the “barnasium.”


  • Cal Hanson, On the Raw Edge of Faith
  • Donald Waite, The Langley Story Illustrated
  • Donald E. Waite, An Early History of The Municipality of Langley
  • EFCA purchase of Seal Kap farm document [TWU Archives – Fonds 1, Box 1, File 1]
  • ESA Website:
  • Fort Langley Website:,
  • Fraser Valley Guide Website:
  • Letter from Chief Factor Alexander Munro to William Armit: Hudson’s Bay Archives, Archives of Manitoba, Winnipeg MB (HBC Arch. A.11/89)  [TWU Archives, Coll. 6, Box 1, File 6]
  • Mary K. Cullen, The History of Fort Langley
  • Notes based on an oral history interview conducted in November, 2000, by Sue Morhun, Manager, Community and Heritage Services, with Roger Roberts, whose family owned land nearby. [TWU Archives Coll.. 6, Box 1, File 7]
  • Oral history interview conducted in 1983 with Ada Smith-Thiessen [TWU Archives, Audio tape. # 235; transcript is filed in Coll. 2, Box 12, File 4. There is also a copy of an accompanying scrapbook]
  • Robie L. Reid, “Early days at old Fort Langley,” British Columbia Historical Quarterly, vol. 1 (1937), pp 81-84.  [TWU Archives, Coll. 6, Box 1, File 6]
  • Statement of all Lands belonging to The Hudson’s Bay Company, in the Western Department, as on 31 January, 1868 (excerpt). Copy provided by the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives, at the Archives of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB. [Reference: HBCA H.1/6]
  • The Columbian, Saturday November 20, 1965 [TWU Archives, Coll. 3, Box 1, File for 1965]
  • Wikipedia entry on Sto:lo: