WITH VIDEO: Brigade boats dock on Fort Langley shoreline

“See you in about 10 pounds,” joked Fort Langley National Historic Site interpreter Aman Johal as he left the comfort of the air-conditioned FLNHS Visitor Centre to join the procession heading northwest towards Marina Park.

Adorned in mid-19th century garb in 30 degrees Celcius heat, Johal – dressed in the likeness of Sir James Douglas, the first governor of British Columbia – was likely accurate in his prediction about how much water weight he would shed over the course of Monday afternoon, Aug. 4.

He and fellow FLNHS interpreters were part of the annual re-enactment of the arrival of the fur brigade canoes on the southern shores of Fort Langley.

The arrival of the two canoes from the Fort Langley Canoe Club and, for the first time in some years, a York boat, was the signature event of the Fort Langley National Historic Site’s (FLNHS) B.C. Day weekend-long Brigade Days celebration, which marks the arrival of brigades from B.C. Interior posts between 1848 and 1858.

During that period, hundreds of people arrived with their year’s return of furs.

Brigade Days annually celebrates the fur brigade route that the voyageurs of the 19th century would take. The route follows rivers from the forts in the Interior to the banks of the Fraser River at Fort Langley.

In 1848, Fort Langley became the main depot for the Hudson’s Bay Company on the West Coast. Every summer during the 1850s, the fur brigades would travel down the rivers to Fort Langley.

The brigades came down in canoes full of furs and other goods that had been traded with First Nations at the Interior forts, and would bring other supplies back from Fort Langley at the end of the summer.

Not taking part in the proceedings for the first time since 1980 was Stewart Goodin, who for the past 13 years has played the role of Mr. Yale, chief trader of Fort Langley.

He suffered a mild stroke shortly after last summer’s re-enactment and followed doctor’s orders not to participate in the 2014 event. So he joined the visitors who crowded around the Marina Bay dock to watched the boats arrive.

“I’ve never seen it; always done it,” Goodin said.

Monday afternoon’s re-enactment was a carbon copy of the past few years, with bagpiper Colin Barrett leading costumed interpreters and the public as they walked in procession along Mavis Avenue and then into Marina Park.

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