Generous family donates additional $1 million to TWU for land purchase
Long-time Langley residents the Blaauw family have donated a further $1 million gift to Trinity Western University for the purchase of two additional parcels of land in the Glen Valley forest area.
The latest gift enlarges the Thomas Blaauw Memorial Forest, which was established in 2013 with the family’s initial gift of $2.5 million to TWU, for a 25-acre parcel in the Glen Valley.
For years, Thomas passed by the land, then known as Grey Pit, on his way to and from his cranberry farm. Often, he remarked what a beautiful piece of property it was. “He liked the green space, the freedom,” said daughter Janet Wiens. “It’s a peaceful, quiet piece of property.”
After he and Ann married in 1960, the couple moved to Richmond to farm for a few years. In 1966, they returned to Langley and bought their first family farm—a poultry farm run by Ann and their children, John, Janet, and Jennifer—now in its 48th year of operation. In 1984, Tom bought his first cranberry farm in Glen Valley. He felt a deep connection to the Langley community, often plowing his neighbourhood street or helping those down on their luck.
After Tom passed away on August 25, 2012, his family searched for a tangible way to honour his life in the community he loved so dearly. When they discovered that the land their beloved husband and father had admired for so long was on the market, they decided to gift $2.5 million to TWU to purchase the land.
That initial donation and resulting land deal was the culmination of several groups, including the family, TWU, the Township of Langley, and environmental advocates Watchers of Langley Forests, working together to preserve Langley’s forested area for future generations. The deal ensures the forest remains available for environmental research, education, and recreational purposes.
“Working with the Blaauw family has truly been a blessing,” said Paul Weme, TWU’s Vice President of Development. “Their gift not only honours their husband and father, it also preserves Langley’s forests for generations to come.”
The land is managed by TWU’s Environmental Studies department, which has established a stakeholders group that will meet twice yearly to discuss forest management. Last summer, fourth-year environmental science major Curtis Abney began inventory of the forest. Through his research, he discovered two at-risk species: the Red-Legged frog, and the Pacific Side Band snail. To date, over 200 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and plants have been discovered on the property.
“Knowing that the land is forever going to be preserved is wonderful,” said Janet. “The number of species the TWU environmental studies students have found is amazing. What we’re doing now is continuing my dad’s legacy.”