Tech added to Langley history

Where new and old collide at the Fort Langley National Historic Site, technology is bringing history to life.

Just in time for its Aboriginal Day activities this week, the Fort has launched a new series of audio tours for visitors.

The tours will complement the existing information visitors can get from the costumed interpreters who staff various positions around the recreated Hudson’s Bay Company fur trading fort.

The traditional activities will be fully on display during the Aboriginal Day events this Saturday.

From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sonny McHalsie and Fern Gabriel, both from local First Nations groups, will be on site.

McHalsie will be roasting salmon and speaking to visitors from about 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and there will be samples of the salmon from about 11 a.m. on.

Starting at 12:30 p.m., there will be a native plant walk to look at some of the plants that grew around the Fort when the early traders arrived.

In between those activities, people can check out the audio tours.

This is not the first time the Fort has looked into creating an audio tour. Such tours are popular in museums around the world, and have existed ever since the Walkman made casettes portable.

About 15 years ago in pre-MP3 player days, the Fort looked into creating an audio tour, and even had a script drafted, but the technology wasn’t quite up to scratch for the kind of experience they had in mind.

Now, with new funding approved last winter, they have started again, digging into the old script and writing new material.

Visitors can now pick up a device that resembles an oversized TV remote control and carry it around the Fort. Numbers at various buildings, when punched into the device, give them different pieces of the audio, so they can wander and experience the Fort in any order they choose.

“It’s a flexible way to see the site and also get the story,” said Hildebrand.

Lower Mainland Sto:lo First Nations members consulted on the script, and Fort interpreter Fern Gabriel was one of the voices, acting as a Sto:lo woman from the time of the first arrival of Europeans on the coast.

There has been a lot of interest in the audio tour from overseas tourists. Hildebrand said the tours have been translated into French, Spanish, German, Japanese, and Mandarin. A local firm that creates such productions did the translations.

During June, the use of the audio tour is free, so visitors can check it out.

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