Every day that we spend in our building on 197 Street, we connect with our firm, family, and Langley history—which, at MacCallum Law Group, is all intertwined. And if anybody knows that history well, it’s Evie MacCallum. She’s the wife of Allen, mother to Matt, and a major player in the creation of the building where we spend so much of our time. In fact, Evie’s rich memory is a goldmine of stories reminding us of where we come from, and what makes us the firm we are today.
In the late 1980s, Allen MacCallum decided to relocate his small law firm from downtown Langley, out of the office above the Surrey Metro building. The location where he and Evie decided to buy land and develop a building was
“mostly bare land. It was just a hodgepodge of small homes, industrial buildings, and car dealerships along the Number 10 Highway.”
The Vancouver-based developer who owned the land at the time had had some trouble finding people with the vision to build the new neighbourhood. But in Evie and Allen, he found the pioneers he was looking for. Allen’s only concern was that his clients might not follow him to a new location. But they assured him that they’d go anywhere, “as long as there was plenty of parking!”
First on the docket was creating a plan for the building that would ultimately be nominated for the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board’s 1990 Award of Excellence. Evie says the challenge was to
“create a place where you could have celebrations, and make our clients—families, farmers, and construction professionals—feel comfortable.”
The MacCallums asked for proposals from three parties, including Teresa Syrnyk, Evie’s architect sister. Ultimately, Teresa’s vision of a “West Coast contemporary hacienda style that was open yet accommodated for privacy” fit the bill. The MacCallums were a contemporary young family investing into a fresh new city-to-be. That’s what they wanted their building to reflect.
When it came time to decorate, Evie, Teresa, and another designer, Corrine Chan, handled the challenge of translating that contemporary vision. At times, the boldness of their choices ruffled the lawyers, who, in the late 1980s, happened to all be men.
“We didn’t want bland and traditional,” Evie giggles. “But when the male lawyers found out what we were planning, they would say things like, ‘I don’t know if I can live with purple. Don’t we want something a bit quieter?’”
The three women persisted with their instincts. Evie observes that because they pushed for contemporary, most of their design choices have “stood the test of time.”
The three designers also kept the firm’s clientele top of mind. It was essential that the people who were, year by year, growing the firm felt comfortable dropping by the office.
“When you entered the building, you saw features like the lofting of beams like you’d see in a barn. And we intentionally used terracotta for our floors so that people coming off a construction site felt comfortable walking in in their boots.”
A splash of forward-looking style and a firm footing in unpretentious small-town culture: Evie had the MacCallum brand down pat, thirty years ago. As she correctly observes, the choices she and the team made then are still reaping dividends for the firm, the family, and the city of Langley.
“Who would have known, thirty years ago, when we designed and built the MacCallum Law Group building, that there would come a time when all the choices we made would keep visitors safe during a pandemic? The spaciousness, the ability to have private meetings, the ventilation…it’s all serving a special purpose now.”
What more could you ask of a building?