Bo Lannin

French fun at the fort brought out the public

Big crowds were at the Fort Langley National Historic Site.

French-Canadian workers from Eastern Canada played a huge role in Fort Langley’s formation.

Construction of the first Fort Langley commenced on Aug. 1, 1827, the same year James McMillan arrived on the Fraser River with an Iroquois, a Hawaiian, several Britons and Scots, but mostly French Canadians.

At the peak of its fur trade days, Fort Langley boasted a French-Canadian population of about one-third of its total employees. As a result, the principal language spoken among the employees would have been French.

As a tribute to its French-Canadian roots, the fort hosted its annual Vive Les Voyageurs festival, featuring music, Métis dancing workshops in the Big House, maple taffy on a stick, historical presentations, spoons and jigging, French 101 lessons, and fur trade weddings.

This year’s festival was blessed with unseasonably warm and dry weather, which made it a resounding success, said FLNHS promotions officer Heather Ramsay.

Parks Canada staff welcomed nearly 800 visitors Saturday and Sunday, which more than doubled the attendance during the rainy French festival weekend last year.

As well, 1,300 students attended the Vive Les Voyageurs French school programs last week, with another 1,100 expected at the FLNHS this week.

“The excellent weather brought in the crowds,” Ramsay said. “The kids made crafts, and learned finger weaving, while families enjoyed the fort’s historical presentations throughout the day.”

Encouraging Canadians to visit their historical places like Fort Langley, Parks Canada allows them to experience the outdoors and learn about local history, Ramsay said: “Building these connections, we can create a community of stewards – people who know and care about these irreplaceable treasures.”

See more photos HERE.

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