Fort holidays historic

Next time the temptation to complain about the office Christmas party arises, think about how the traders at Fort Langley’s Hudson Bay Company fort marked the holidays back in the 1800s.

“Traditionally workers got the day off and Christmas Eve,” said Nancy Hildebrand, the marketing manager at the Fort Langley National Historic Site. “They [the company] gave a ration of rum and the chief trader would host a feast.”

Feast would be defined as foods like fish, salted meats, potatoes, peas – in other words the same foods they ate day in and day out, just more of them.

Decorating for Christmas wasn’t a part of the culture. Most of the traders had First Nations wives unfamiliar with western holiday practices.

A lot of the men, being French or Metis, would have been Catholic but there were no churches.

Occasionally a priest would visit the area to formalize marriages and conduct other religious rites and duties.

There were also men of Scottish ancestry with the company and even Hawaiians who has migrated into the area.

When pioneer families started to settle in the area, the traditions associated with Christmas became more common, such as decorating, having a Christmas tree, holiday baking and caroling.

To give people a sense of how Christmas was celebrated many decades ago, the national historic site hosts Heritage Holidays at the Fort Dec. 20 to Jan. 4.

There will be crafts and kids activities.

At 2 p.m., join a costumed interpreter for chestnut roasting and stories around the cosy fireplace in the cooperage.

Daily, join a guided tour at 11 a.m., watch blacksmithing at 12:30 p.m., barrel-making at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., and the flag lowering song at 4:30 p.m.

The fort is closed Dec. 25 and 26 and again Jan. 1.

Learn more about the fort, the holiday program and its many other activites during the year at

To hear more about the history of the site, there is a new audio tour, which is free for annual pass holders.

Annual passes are on sale for $39.20 and pass holders receive a discount at Sxwimel Gifts, the Kwantlen First Nations gift shop at the historic site.

Regular admission is $7.80 for an adult or $19.60 per family.

Admission rates apply for Heritage Holidays at the Fort, but alas, the fort no longer offers the menfolk rations of rum.

Just Posted

VIDEO: Saturday was devoted to the arts in Langley City

The 25th annual Arts Alive festival took over a main thoroughfare.

Arena opens at Aldergrove Credit Union Community Centre

Grand procession brings Aldergrove ice arena users to new facility

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

Air quality advisory continues in the Lower Mainland

Smoke from Interior fires brings fine particulate

VIDEO: Tire recycling at Kal Tire

All tires will be recycled back into products to be used in British Columbia

‘We will not forget:’ Thousands attend funeral fallen Fredericton officers

Hundreds of officials marched in the parade, which included massed band, several police motorcycles

Lions give up late TD in 24-23 loss to Argos

B.C. falls to 3-5, fumbling away last-minute chance in Toronto

Eagle tree cut down legally a 1st for B.C. city

Planned eagle preserve ‘a first for City of Surrey’

Smoky skies like a disappearing act for sights, monuments around B.C.

Haze expected to last the next several days, Environment Canada said

Canadians react to death of former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan at age 80

Nobel Peace Prize-winning former UN leader died early Saturday following a short illness

44 drownings so far this year in B.C.

Lifesaving Society urging caution to prevent deaths while on lakes, oceans and in pools

Some of B.C.’s air quality levels worse than Jodhpur, India

Okanagan, northern B.C. seeing some of the worst air quality globally

VIDEO: Ground crews keep a close eye on largest B.C. wildfire

Originally estimated to be 79,192 hectares, officials said more accurate mapping shows smaller size

Most Read