Saturday, July 06, 2013

Fort Langley

A few days ago we spent the afternoon exploring the birthplace of British Columbia, historic Fort Langley. Situated strategically on the Fraser River, the fort was run by the Hudson's Bay Company. HBC men were encouraged to marry First Nations women, strengthening the ties between the two. For the most part the Company and the First Nations peoples had a peaceful relationship. The fort has been wonderfully restored and is a great way to experience hands on history. All of the employees within the fort dress in period costume, and are very helpful and ready to answer any questions visitors might have. 

The wall and watchtower as we approached the fort. What kid could resist? We were able to climb up into the watchtower and walk along the upper walkway. 
The cooperage was an important part of life in the fort. While it was the fur trade that fueled the early economy, goods such as salted salmon and cranberries were also shipped out from Fort Langley and became important commodities. There are ongoing demonstrations of barrel making in the cooperage.
There were all kinds of furs that the kids could touch and feel. And try on, if they were so inclined!
We happened to be there on a day when there weren't many visitors, which was nice. The staff were all friendly, helpful, and available to answer our questions. 

This map showed how most of the goods traded went to and from Europe, all the way around the tip of South America. Beaver hats were all the rage at the time, and the demand for pelts was huge. I found this map especially interesting after having visited the Panama Canal earlier this year, and learning how the opening of the canal has changed worldwide shipping. At this time the TransCanada railway was not yet completed either, and the "kilometres of daunting wilderness" in the middle of the country made it impractical to transport goods from the East Coast of Canada.
We almost had the place to ourselves!
Panning for gold was a big hit with all the kids. Or maybe I should say it was a big splash, as they all came away rather soggy!
This woman was showing Peregrine the ropes. After the California Gold Rush died out a bit, over 30.000 American miners came north to seek gold in and around the Fraser River. At the time, the area was known as New Caledonia, and while Russian and European traders were active in the region, the Hudson's Bay Company had a monopoly on trade in the region.  The governor of Vancouver Island claimed it as British territory to prevent what seemed like a possible takeover from the US, and thus it became official Canadian land. One of the great things about travel is getting to hear history from different perspectives. 
Poppy found a nugget! 
Raphael was taking it very seriously after both Peregrine and Poppy found some. Where did my round faced little toddler go? 
There is a nice, big garden inside the walls of the fort, as well as chickens, rabbits, goats, and sheep. The kids enjoyed getting to feed them. Historically, the HBC farmed the lands around the fort, providing wheat and butter to Russian traders, as well as other types of produce.
Fort Langley is "the birthplace of British Columbia". That short fellow in the front looks an awful lot like Peregrine, doesn't he? 
One of the buildings contained rooms set up to look like family dwellings would have back then. I had to take this picture to compare with the next one, which was taken six years ago...

.... when Poppy was only two! I visited Fort Langley with Peregrine and Poppy while I was up in BC visiting my friend Shelley. She could hardly see over the top of the bowl! (You can see more pictures from our previous visit here.)

My handsome boy.

And my sweet big girl.


  1. It was a fun day. I'm glad that we could all be there together this time.

    1. Me too! I like having you around.

  2. Wow, that was really interesting. I know next to nothing about Canada, so it was good to get this mini history lesson!

    I'm keeping this place in mind in case we ever get to do any traveling!

    As always, it was wonderful to hear about your travels!

    1. Leanne, I know a pathetically small amount about Canada's history, and I lived here through grade seven! I love getting to learn alongside the kids; it's one of the best things about homeschooling!

  3. That looks like such a fun, educational journey through time!

    Your children are ALL so beautiful! What a blessing!

    1. Thanks, Michelle! Yours are too.


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