Trust support helps keep the culture at The Langham strong.
Over the 125+ years of its existence, the current Langham Cultural Centre has been a boarding house, a bank, a bar, a bottling plant and a boat factory. At its darkest moment, it was home to 80 Japanese Canadians who were forcibly interned during World War II. Today, the building is in great shape and – while honouring its history – serves as a significant arts and culture centre.
“It’s really the cultural hub of the North Kootenay Lake region,” says Paul Grace-Campbell, outgoing Executive Director of the Langham Cultural Society. Here, you’ll find art galleries, a performance theatre and studios rented to artists and community organizations. You’ll also find the Japanese Canadian Museum, plus regular programming focused on the Japanese Canadian community.
When the society purchased the building in 1974, however, it wasn’t in such impressive condition. In fact, “Graffiti on the side of a wall said, ‘Burn it down,’” Grace-Campbell says. They didn’t. Rather, initiatives across the decades have made the Langham the historical icon it is today.
Over more recent years, “The Trust has been hugely important in helping with a huge list of renovations,” Grace-Campbell says. These have included exterior paint; new carpet, theatre seats and doors; structural work in the basement and attic; improved ventilation; upgraded lighting and sound systems; the addition of a second art gallery. “It’s in really, really good shape.” So good, in fact, that the Langham is a provincial and federal historic place, and was recognized by the Architecture Foundation of British Columbia as one of “BC’s 100 Best Buildings.”
The Trust also aids when it comes to the Langham’s events. Grace-Campbell says, “We get funding through the Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance,” which delivers the Trust’s arts and culture program. Special exhibitions, recurring activities like the ever popular ‘Halloween Haunt’, the more recent ‘Kaslo Summer Music Series’ – these have all taken place with Trust support.
The facility’s Japanese Canadian focus is also getting a boost. In fall 2023, the final fencing is going up on a Japanese garden. “The Trust has been very instrumental in making this project happen. We have really felt very, very well supported by the Trust over the years.”
All told, the building preserves the past, celebrates arts and culture, and helps create a vibrant future in the Basin – three aspects valued by people across the region, which is why the Trust supports projects like these. “Kaslo would not have an arts centre, a cultural centre or a heritage centre if it weren’t for the Langham building,” Grace-Campbell says. “It has really become such an important asset to the community.”
Columbia Basin Trust