Kids and adults lined a small section of the river’s edge to watch a fistful of canoes and a York boat arrive in the ceremonial Brigade Days early Monday afternoon. (Roxanne Hooper/Langley Advance)

VIDEO: Langley paddles into history on BC Day

Hundreds gathered on the shores of the Bedford Channel in Fort Langley to witness Brigade Days.

A few hundred spectators gathered along the banks of the Bedford Channel in Fort Langley Monday to witness the historically accurate arrival of the fur brigades.

The annual mock event seems a fitting way to celebrate B.C. Day, explained long-time Fort Langley National Historic Site interpreter Aman Johal.

Each year, the fort hosts a three-day Brigade Days celebration. The festivities include a procession of fort staff and volunteers – adorned period costumes – parading down from the fort to the shores of the nearby river – where they meet a number of arriving canoes and boats.

It’s a re-creation of the arrival of the fur brigades in the early 1800s, when the fort at Fort Langley was in its heyday and was an active Hudson’s Bay Company trading post.

“We were a supply depot,” Johal explained to the crowd watching the ceremonial arrival.

• CLICK HERE TO SEE MORE PHOTOS

Several members and canoes from the Fort Langley Canoe Club accompanied a team of “dignitaries” in the Bedford Rowing Society’s replica York boat called Brenda A, came ashore after a drumming welcome from members of the Kwantlen First Nation.

Hudson’s Bay constructed the first fort about four kilometres downstream from the current fort site in 1827. By 1830, it was a major export port for sale salmon in barrels, as well as cedar lumber, and shingles bound for Hawaii. And, of course, beaver pelts.

“All the other forts in the Interior would pack up their furs for the Hudson’s Bay Company and bring them down here with the voyageurs. Voyageurs” who Johal equated to “primitive UPS men” bringing all their furs to the coast.

At Fort Langley, the furs were repackage into larger bundles, and when staff got word a ship from England had docked in Fort Victoria, on Vancouver Island, they would load up the furs on a steamboat and send them off.

“The steamboat would then take four days from here to get to Victoria. In Victoria, you load up that giant sailing ship. That sailing ship goes around South America to England. At top speed, six months.”

Why all this effort?

John offered the answer. “Fashion, that’s all it was… All so gentlemen in England can wear one of these,” Johal said, tipping his top hat.

Explaining that it took one full-grown beaver pelt to produce a top hat, he said the furs were in high demand.

“The value of a hat back then varied like a watch today,” he said. “You can buy a Rollex or get one in your happy meal. Same thing with top hats.”

After regaling the spectators with some of this history, he again tipped his sweat-soaked beaver hat, and welcomed the fur traders ashore.

“So this is what we’re celebrating today,” he said.

Just Posted

New Langley mall owners have multi-use vision in mind

H&M opens in Willowbrook Thursday, offset some of the space left vacant by the departure of Sears.

Pitt Meadows airport manager resigns

Guy Miller was just two months on the job

UPDATED: Controversial “covenant” now optional for TWU students

The move may allow the school to start its own law school, after a long legal battle.

Legendary umpire retiring after 40 years

Aldergrove’s Gord Hanly caps an outstanding 40 year career

Early success sees Clayton farmers’ market looking to grow

The first half of the season exceeded expectations, and now the market could go to once a week

Average Canadian family spends 43% of income on taxes: study

Fraser Institute’s consumer report shows taxes accounting for larger chunk of income each year

UPDATE: ‘Faint fuel odour,’ ‘sheen’ seen on Fraser River beach after tug carrying diesel sinks

Tugboat carrying up to 22,000 litres of diesel sinks in Fraser River Tuesday morning

Column: Mother orca’s display of grief sends powerful message

The grief of this orca mother may not be visible anymore, but we must not forget.

Seven people with ties to Red Scorpions gang arrested in B.C. drug bust

Delta police have secured 94 charges against seven people, including drug and firearm offences

Second measles scare this summer at YVR

An infected traveller flew out of Vancouver’s airport three times

Judge OKs Weinstein suit, cites casting couch’s history

Actress Kadian Noble can sue disgraced Hollywood mogul for violating sex trafficking laws

Employers to raise salaries 2.6% on average next year: report

Firm points to factors such possibility of more trade protectionism, rising interest rates

PM Trudeau and federal ministers to meet on Vancouver Island

Cabinet retreat will be held in Nanaimo from Aug. 21-23

Most Read