There’s tales for teens and tales for the brave, tales for students and tales en Francais.
The increasingly popular Grave Tales Historic Walking Tours set out starting Friday the 13th. Since they started in 2010, more than 8,600 people have taken the tours.
In the dark of October evenings, the Fort Langley National Historic Site becomes the perfect starting and ending point for the Halloween-inspired tours that take participants through the village.
“Fort Langley’s talented storytellers spin tales of love, mysterious burials, and hair-raising amputations,” said Nancy Hildebrand, promotions officer at the historic site.
People walk to various sites around Fort Langley as storytellers regale the crowds with historic tales. Interpreters tell tales of misfortune in the cemeteries, streets, and inside the Hudson’s Bay Co. fort.
Around 2006 the historic site looked at organzing an autumn event for a few nights and canvassed the village for tales to share, hoping to get a couple hundred reports. More than 2,000 stories were received. They were whittled down to ones that had multiple sources.
Having the artifacts and sites of history right in Fort Langley helps as people, up to about 25 per tour, do a walk of sites of ghostly historical import.
The tours have become so popular that the fort is stretched to offer any more at this time of year.
“We have a small staff team, and also have the daytime operation and school programs to run, so this is the maximum amount of tours we can offer,” Hildebrand noted.
Each year the fort has added more tours to appeal to different audiences, such as a Grave Tales tour and overnight camping package. This year it added a French tour on Oct. 25, and youth tours Oct. 26 to 30.
The regular tours run from Oct. 13 to Oct. 30, three times each evening and even with all those opportunities, the spots filled quickly.
Hildebrand noted the fort has added tours in the spring starting in 2018.
“The new tour series will be historic tales with an edge of mystery, like Grave Tales,” she explained.
Trick or treat
A kids Halloween event is noon to 5 p.m. at the fort on Oct. 29. This not-too-scary event is for kids to play and show off their costumes.
They can trick or treat within the fort walls, listen to ghost stories around the fire, and see some creepy critters.
The fort has free admission during Canada 150.
Grave Tales started around 2010. The first year had about 800 participants, and about that same number in 2011. It grew by about 100 people or more per year with numbers peaking at 1,400 in 2016. About 1,300 people took the tours in 2017.