PHOTOS: Rowers re-enact a 100-km fur trade excursion to Fort Langley

Activities abound in Fort Langley this weekend, allowing folks to explore B.C.’s rich history.

As Langleyites prepare to celebrate B.C. Day in a myriad of different ways this holiday weekend, it’s apropos that a variety of family-oriented activities are planned in and around the literal birthplace of B.C.

The village of Fort Langley will be alive with various activities Saturday to Monday, Aug. 5 to 7.

Festivities include train days at the BC Farm Museum, and a free, three-day history exploration at the Fort Langley National Historic Site, to a fur brigade organized by the Bedford Rowing Society (BRS) that will leave Hope on Friday and arrive on the shores of Fort Langley midday on Monday.

The rowing society chose to take on the brigade in their replica York boat – like those used by the Hudson’s Bay Company to carry furs and trade goods along inland waterways) from Hope to Fort Langley as a way to celebrate Canada 150, said Paul Sleightholme.

Three years ago the society drew up plans, received donations of lumber, and set about building the 32-foot boat. It has since been used in subsequent Brigade Day celebrations – transporting a gaggle of dignitaries in period costumes from the Fort Langley airport to the village shores in a ceremonial arrival of the fur brigade.

“This year the BRS, never shy to take on a challenge, is re-creating the fur brigade voyage from Fort Hope, a 100-km trip,” Sleightholme explained.

The first time since the 1850s, the Hope Mountain Centre – which opened up the historic Hudson Bay Company’s 74-km trail from Hope to Tulameen – will be helping to send off the boat from Fort Hope.

The departure – happening Friday at 9:30 a.m. – includes a group marching from the original Fort Hope site to the encampment on the river bank for cast off, Sleightholme elaborated.

“The oarsmen and members of the BRS will row the boat to Fort Langley airport, stopping for one or two overnight encampments, depending on the oarsmen’s abilities and stamina,” he said.

Among the crew will be a black powder musket bearer and fur trade reenactor/historian, Rick Herfst.

Herfst will be announcing the arrival on Monday, as the boat will be joined by dignitaries (including Cloverdale-Langley City MP John Aldag and Township of Langley Councillor Blair Whitmarsh – who wil be manning the oars for part of the journey) and the canoes for their final approach to Marina Park.

“What a fitting way to celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit that built the Hudson’s Bay Company’s initiative to open the West and this great country of Canada,” Sleightholme said.

Full steam ahead

In the meantime, the BC Farm Museum is celebrating B.C. Day with a focus on trains.

There will be a focus on their “massive” model train exhibit, plus various equipment demonstrations, and some furry friends on site, courtesy of Aldor Acres.

These festivities run Saturday through Monday, Aug. 5 to 7, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day.

The farm museum is located next to the Langley Centennial Museum – and very near the Fort – at 9131 King St. in Fort Langley.

Exploring B.C.’s history

How many local folks have captured their own dinner, portaged a canoe, or made their own clothes?

Fort Langley’s annual Brigade Days is a chance to people to visit the Fort Langley National Historic Site and to meet people who carry on the unique skills and traditions of those who lived and travelled along the Fraser River more than 150 years ago.

During the three-day festival, people can meet history enthusiasts from all around British Columbia and Washington, who will be on-hand showcasing 1800s fur trade culture through demonstrations of sewing, laundry, weapons, blacksmithing, cooking, and music.

“Best of all, the whole event is free in 2017 because of Parks Canada’s free admission for the 150th anniversary of the Confederation of Canada,” explained the Fort historic site’s own Nancy Hildebrand.

Among highlights at the Fort this weekend, there’s a fur trade era fashion show on Sunday, at 1:30 p.m., behind the Big House.

There will be old-fashioned cooking demonstrations as re-enactors prepare their meals, including the use of the traditional bake oven to roast a pig.

Guests can have a chance to learn about catching food – which might be considered recreation today but back in the mid-1880s was a life skill.

Visitors can also learn about the tools and techniques of the fur trade, and hear and watch the firing of a musket and other historic weapons. Or on more of the domestic end of things, spectators can try their hand at some laundry using a scrub board, wringer, and historic iron.

The weekend will be capped off with a bagpipe procession down to the Fraser River shore for the fur brigade re-enactment. The procession leaves the Fort at 12:30 p.m., the brigade arrival is expected at Marina Park at 1 p.m., followed by a procession from there to the James Douglas statue at about 1:30 p.m.

Sir James Douglas, as way of a history lesson, is dubbed the Father of B.C. He was a fur trader who became the first governor of B.C.

He chose Fort Langley to be the provisional colonial capital – before the capital was moved to Victoria.

A statue honouring the man stands on the lawn in front of the Fort.

WATCH: Last year’s brigade


• Saturday, Aug. 5

10 a.m.: Flag-raising procession

All day: Pig roast demonstration

11 a.m.: Historic weapons demonstration

12:30 p.m.: Chinook jargon

1 p.m.: Trapping techniques

2 p.m.: Farm and garden tour

2:30 p.m.: Historic weapons demonstration

3 p.m.: Washer Women

4 p.m.: Voyageurs

4:45 p.m.: Flag lowering

• Sunday, Aug. 6

10 a.m.: Flag-raising procession

11 a.m.: Weapons demonstration

12 p.m.: Washer Women

12:30 p.m.: Fur trade fashions

1:30 p.m.: Trapping techniques

2 p.m.: Farm and garden tour

2:30 p.m.: Fort feats of strength

3:30 p.m.: Weapons demonstration

4 p.m.: Chinook jargon

4:45 p.m.: Closing time at the Trading Post

• Monday, Aug. 7

10 a.m.: Flag-raising procession

11 a.m.: Weapons demonstration

11:30 a.m.: Washer Women

12 p.m.: Voyageurs

12:30 p.m.: Bagpipe procession from Fort to Marina Park

1 p.m.: Arrival of the fur brigades

1:30 p.m.: Procession from Marina Park to James Douglas statue

2:30 p.m.: Unveiling a plaque recognizing Simon Fraser

3 p.m.: Weapons demonstration

4 p.m.: Farm and garden tour

4:45 p.m.: Closing time at the Trading Post


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