Langley Centennial Museum
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Noel Bowman Booth oral history interview conducted by Don Waite in 1976.
1 audio cassette.
SR-032: Track 1 is a brief description of street numbering systems.
Track 2 describes the first community library in Langley, and Booth's work for the Fraser Valley Regional Library.
Tracks 3 - 5 describe Booth's experience in municipal politics and as school trustee. He discusses political problems in Langley.
Track 6 is a discussion of Booth's family and his business, a travelling store.
Booth, Noel Bowman
Noel Bowman Booth was born in Nottingham, England on 23 May 1897. His father died in 1906, after which his mother, Edith Maude Booth, brought the family to Canada. Noel traveled around northern BC before settling in Langley. He enlisted in the Canadian military in 1918. Noel married Gertrude Lillian Osterberg on 1 June 1921. He was a School Trustee from 1938-1939 and Councillor in 1945, 1949-1955 and 1959; and Reeve 1933-1935, and 1946-1947. Noel and Lillian were the long-term owners of the Noel Booth General Store, and they ran a fleet of buses that acted as mobile stores around the community. Noel Booth is known for launching the celebration of Douglas Day, and he helped facilitate the building of the Fraser Valley Regional Library. In 1943 the Booths donated the land upon which Glenwood School stands, and in May 1977 a cairn and plaque were placed in a corner of the school yard to honour his donation. Noel Booth Park and Noel Booth Elementary School were later named for him. Noel Booth died 22 May 1979.
Noel Booth Bus
The Diamond T Bus was once part of a fleet of vehicles operated by the Noel Booth General Store in Langley. Mr. and Mrs. Booth took over the operation of the Fernridge Post Office in 1921, then later expanded to include a General Store. During the Second World War, the Booths began delivering and selling goods through a fleet of mobile stores. They equipped their vehicles with shelving and an icebox, and staffed them with a driver and clerk. The Diamond T Bus was purchased in 1941. The vehicles took orders, delivered groceries, and sold groceries they carried with them. The vehicle was in operation from the 1940s to 1963. The bus was donated by the family of Noel Booth to the British Columbia Provincial Museum in 1985, and in 1987 became part of the collection of the Transportation Museum of British Columbia in Cloverdale. The Noel Booth Bus was part of the Transportation Museum of British Columbia's collection until the museum closed. Efforts were made to return objects from the collection to their communities of origin, and the Noel Booth Bus returned to Langley in 1993, becoming part of the collection of the Langley Centennial Museum & National Exhibition Centre. A restoration project was undertaken by a skilled and dedicated group of volunteers who work for the Township of Langley. Bill Hughes, Jim McRobbie, Norm Morgan, Dave Clift, Wayne Randell and Dave Garrett (employees with Public Works, Equipment and Buildings, Operations, and Utilities departments) met Wednesday evenings to work on the project, and raised most of the original funding themselves. They stripped the bus to its frame, took apart and inspected the transmission and differential, and rebuilt the engine. Jim McRobbie's active membership in a truck restoration club helped them find parts, and he also traveled to Washington State to purchase a second bus for parts. The group was also helped through donations from B&B Tire of Langley and Alder Auto Parts in Aldergrove. The project was completed with the support of the BC Heritage Trust and Township of Langley.
Term Source: based on museum research on the bus.
Noel Booth Store and Gas Station
The Booths arrived in Fern Ridge, south Langley, in the fall of 1921 to continue operating the local post office there. Mrs. Gertrude Lillian Booth assumed the role of postmistress while Mr. Booth commuted to Vancouver to his plumbing business until the mid 1920s. The Booths expanded the services of the post office soon after (a temporary partition was built to accommodate two services, the post office and a small grocery store). Initially a limited number of goods were offered for sale, due largely to the limited floor area. The post office ceased operation in 1926. The gas station at the Booth Store was built in the early 1930s, a small building with a covering for the pumps. There were two pumps - gas and coal-oil. Coal-oil was used extensively for lighting and heating prior to electricity in rural Langley. The store underwent a major renovation in 1936 when the Booths contracted the Services of the Smith Brothers, a local construction company. The renovation changed the store layout from an "L" to a linear design. After the renovation the store was now called N. Booth's General Store. The Booth's expanded in 1940 and 1941, adding stores in Whalley and White Rock. The White Rock store closed for economic reasons, and the Whalley location after its manager enlisted in the army. During the Second World War the Booths' established a fleet of mobile stores, at the height of their use between 1946 and 1947. The service was decreased to a one vehicle operation in 1947, and the last remaining vehicle, a Diamond "T", remained in service until 1963 when the traveling grocery was cancelled.
Term Source: Donna J. MacDonald's "The Booth Travelling Store"; Inventory of Historic Buildings in Langley by the Langley Heritage Society.
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Argus v18.104.22.168 - Langley Centennial Museum