It's a celebration that marks the founding of British Columbia, but Douglas Day remains a very local event for Langley residents.
On Nov. 19, 1858, James Douglas was sworn in as the first governor, of what was then the colony of British Columbia.
The colony itself was proclaimed the same day, a typically dreary and rainy fall day, within the pallisades of the Hudson's Bay Company's Fort Langley.
The colony was far from what would become modern British Columbia. The Fraser River gold rush was underway, and miners were flooding into the now officially British territory.
But the bulk of the province was still peopled with First Nations, a few fur traders, and isolated bands of settlers from Canada, the United States, and Europe.
The diversity of the future province of British Columbia was exemplified by the diversity of its first governor.
Douglas was Scottish on his
Douglas Day Events
10 a.m. Sign the giant-sized proclamation of British Columbia at the Fort Langley National Historic Site. Runs all day.
10: 30 a.m. Black powder salute at the Fort.
11 a.m. Highland dancing and music by the White Spot Pipe Band at Fort Langley Community Hall.
Noon Parade to the Fort from the community hall.
Noon to 3 p.m. Experience the Warmth of the Caribbean
12: 30 p.m. Ceremony, proclamation re-enactment, and black powder salute at the Fort.
2 p.m. Fur trade game show at the Fort.
3p.m. Black powder salute at the Fort.
4 p.m. Are you wealthy? At the Fort. father's side, Guyanese creole on his mother's. He was schooled in Great Britain and spent most of his adult life in what would become northwestern Canada as a trader. His wife Amelia was Cree on her mother's side and the daughter of one of Douglas's senior traders.
The multiple heritages of the Douglas family, from Guyanese to First Nations, will all be represented at this Saturday's celebration in Fort Langley.
"It will be quite a colourful event up at the Fort," said Grant Rawstron, one of the co-organizers along with Bays Blackhall.
The day will begin at the Fort Langley Community Hall on Glover Road.
Inside, the White Spot Pipe Band will be hosting a craft fair to raise funds.
Outside, if the weather is good, there will be live performances and Highland dancing, with most of the festivities to start at around 11 a.m.
There will be a procession to the Fort Langley National Historic Site down Glover Road and Mavis Avenue, where there will be a welcome from the Kwantlen First Nation, a re-enactment of the proclamation of British Columbia as a colony, and then a variety of events from black powder gunnery to Guyanese steel drumming will take place.
The Guyanese Canadian Cultural Association of B.C. will be taking part again this year.
Rawstron said that he's somewhat disappointed that a celebration of the founding of B.C. doesn't get wider support from around the province.
"It's mainly local," he noted. Langley has taken Douglas Day seriously for decades, and in the past, it was even a public municipal holiday, with school children getting the day off.
That seems to have ended sometime in the late 1960s or early 1970s, said Jane Lemke, arts and heritage curator at the Langley Centennial Museum.
To the disappointment of generations of kids, it was decided that they could learn more about Douglas Day from inside a classroom.
Another tradition that has waxed and waned is that of having a provincial cabinet meeting in the Big House of the Fort Langley National Historic Site on Nov. 19.
W.A.C. Bennett was fond of the tradition, as was his son Bill Bennett when he held the premier's chair. When the Social Credit Party was tossed out of office in 1991, however, the tradition came to an end.
Neither the NDP nor the Liberals brought it back fully, aside from a 2008 meeting held during the 150th anniversary of the province's formation.
That was a big year for Douglas Day, with more resources, recalls Rawstron. Now that the big anniversary has passed, it's again the residents of the birthplace of B.C. who will carry the burden of remembering when the province was created.
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