Organizers of the annual Brigade Day re-enactment is putting out the call for paddlers.
On the first Monday in August, the Bedford Channel, below the Fort Langley stockade, flows back to a time when voyageur canoes loaded with furs, beaver pelts and excited paddlers arrived to cheering crowds.
Like the voyageurs of old, volunteer members of Fort Langley Canoe Club [FLCC] will be up before sunrise on Aug. 6 readying large 10-14 person canoes for the final 21.5 kilometres from Mission to Fort Langley.
At 7 a.m. other paddlers, regular folks who have secured tickets for the opportunity to be part of the re-enactment, will gather at Historic Fort Langley and from there be bused to the waiting canoes in Mission.
"Last year's Brigade swelled to eight boats and 82 paddlers," said FLCC commodore Cheryl MacIntosh. "More people wanted to go than we had seats available, so this year we are planning on nine to 10 boats allowing 90 to 100-plus paddlers."
Participants assemble their own costumes which may be supplemented by traditional voyageur sashes provided by FLCC. "Those who have made the trip in the past told us that putting together simple costumes is part of the fun," said Sherrie Thorne, FLCC's brigade coordinator. "The goal is to portray fur traders arriving at the Fort in the mid-1800s."
The event is part of BC Day celebrations and Langley is one of the few communities that holds activities.
"It's no longer just a FLCC member event, but one in which locals and visitors can share the experience," continued MacIntosh. "The response to last's Brigade paddle was outstanding and the feedback extremely positive; so this year with help from sponsors such as MLA Rich Coleman, Historic Fort Langley and LePage Realtors Sharon and Wayne Good; we are able to chauffer participants by bus from Fort Langley to the launch site in Mission as well as purchase more paddles."
The voyage takes approximately three hours, everyone paddles, with a rest stop at Glen Valley Park where participants will have an opportunity to stretch, have a snack and rehydrate.
"We really appreciate the involvement of Collins Brothers Painting Ltd. and Walnut Grove's IGA Market Place, who are providing water and snacks to the paddlers before they begin the second half of their journey," said Thorne.
At 1 p.m. the Brigade's flotilla will arrive at Fort Langley's Marina Park to a black powder salute, bagpipes, a reception committee in period dress and cheering crowds.
"It's a treat to watch from the riverbank, if you are not paddling," smiled Thorne, "so bring your camera."
After honoured guests are carried ashore so they don't get their clothes wet, one of the canoes will be shouldered by reenactors, and along with dignitaries, will lead the procession into the Fort's stockade where a reenactment camp will be set up. Everyone is welcome to follow.
The entire village of Fort Langley celebrates the occasion, so plan to be a part of the fun. Gather family and friends together and share the experience of paddling as part of the historic reenactment. Tickets are on sale now at ReMax Little Oak Realty, 9148 Glover Rd., 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The cost is $35 (cash only) per person. Paddlers must be 12-plus years old and each minor must be accompanied by an adult.
For more information visit the Fort Langley Canoe Club's website at www.fortlangleycanoeclub.ca or contact the brigade coordinator via email firstname.lastname@example.org.