In 2004 Richard and Laura Rees donated a property they owned since 1967 to the Township of Langley. The Township Council designated the property located on 202 Street, south of 32 Avenue, as a Natural Park. The Rees-Callard Natural Park Area is named in honour of Richard’s and Laura’s families.

Laura Callard was born in Yorkton, Saskatchewan and at age 17 moved to B.C. with her parents and younger brother in 1937. Laura’s father, Gwyn Harry Callard, became principal of Belmont School. In 1943 he retired after 37 years of teaching to take a position as bookkeeper at the Yale Garage in Langley Prairie.

Before moving to BC, Mr. Callard was the principal of the four room school in the Harris, Sask. The little school had a belfry but no bell, so Principal Callard held fundraising events in order to purchase a bell. The school also did not have Grade 12 requiring students to go to Saskatoon. For many the 40 mile trip was too far, so Mr. Callard taught many students Grade 12 on his own time after regular school hours. His dedication to the teaching profession was commemorated in 1980 when a new school was built. His commitment to education was recognized with the unveiling of a cairn to his memory in front of the new Harris school. The cairn incorporates the old school’s bell that his fundraising acquired.

During World War Two, Laura’s father was a warden in the A.R.P. (Air Raid Prevention); Laura also served her country during the war as a Corporal in the Canadian Air Force. She was a member of the Eastern Star Chapter No. 50 in Langley for over 50 years. Her brother, John, signed up for the Canadian Navy and continued in the service for many years after the war. During the war, Laura’s future husband, Richard Rees, served in the Merchant Navy.

Richard was also born in Saskatchewan. In 1940, he came to Vancouver in search of work and took a job with David and Spencer, a department store. In 1941 his father, Reverend W.T. Rees, passed away and his mother and sister moved to B.C. to join Richard.

Three of Richard’s four brothers followed in their dad’s footsteps and became United Church ministers in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Mt. Forest and Guelph, Ontario. His sister, Mrs. M.R. (Annie) Grant, worked in the office at Langley Memorial Hospital. Richard’s mother, Catherine Anne Rees, lived an active life on Livingston Road (232 Street) to become on of Langley’s oldest residents. She passed away in 1977 in the Cedar Hill Centre of the Langley Memorial Hospital at the age of 101. Pallbearers for the funeral service were Mario Borsato, Emil Morelli, Jack Maitland, Richard Lee, H.D. Brewer and Reinhold Wagner.

Catherine Anne Rees (nee Jones) was born in Carmarthen, South Wales in 1876. In 1883 her parents and family emigrated to Patagonia, Argentina, South America, to join the Welsh Colony, which was established there in 1860. Later, as a young woman, she returned to Wales where she met and married Reverend Rees. In 1899 they immigrated to the U.S. where her husband ministered to several Welsh Baptist congregations in Pennsylvania, Iowa, and North Dakota. In 1917 they moved to Canada and settled in Atwar where Rev. Rees continued his ministry to Welsh congregations. He later joined the United Church of Canada. Catherine Rees was an active member of Sharon United Church during her years in Langley.

Richard Rees and Laura Callard first met at the Sharon United Church where both have been members for over 60 years. Laura also taught Sunday school for 15 years. Their meeting at church blossomed into a romance and eventually marriage in 1962. Richard worked in the real estate business for over 30 years and served on the Langley Memorial Hospital Board from 1971 to 1980. Laura worked at Rexal Drugs, Stewart Drugs and at Cunningham’s as they were taken over and lastly at Shoppers Drugs.

Both Laura and Richard had a passion for horticulture and gardening. They planted many native species trees at their home on 232nd Street and some are now over 40 years old. They originally purchased the property on 202 Street in 1967 as an investment. Richard and Laura decided to donate their investment for public enjoyment as Langley’s first designated “Natural Park”.