Thursday, April 11, 2013

Fort Langley National Historic Site

Fort Langley National Historic Site was built by the Hudson's Bay Company in 1827 as a fur trade post, located on the Fraser River with a large population of First Nations Stó:lō - "people of the river". The Stó:lō people traded cranberries, salmon, furs, etc. in exchange for materials such as ropes, metals, and the famous HBC point blankets from European traders.

With our HCOS friends, we traveled back in time on this field trip and learned about the history of Fort Langley through many interactive displays and activities.
Matchmaker - marriages between the First Nations women and Hudson's Bay Company men helped build trust and secure trade relationships. Chief Trader Archibald McDonald was one shrewd businessman, with 17 of his 18 men having Aboriginal wives!
The Fraser River Bateau - flat-bottomed boats such as this were used by Hudson's Bay Company to transport furs and provisions between Fort Langley and Fort Hope.
Blacksmith Shop - a blacksmith gave us a demonstration on how to forge a hook. Farm tools and other hardware were forged here for the fort and other trading posts.
Cooperage - this was where barrels were built to store and transport salmon, cranberries, produce, etc. The kids got to test if they're "skookum" with a barrel rolling race.
Fur Press - before being shipped to London, the furs were first compressed by this simple machine.
Storehouse - this is the only original building left at this historical site. Pelts of different animals such as beavers, minks, wolverines, raccoons, muskrats, and otters were on display.
Big House - the residence of the chief trader, the clerk, and their families. This building was reconstructed to celebrate the centennial of a historical event on November 19, 1858, when British Columbia was proclaimed a colony at a ceremony in the original Big House. James Douglas, a HBC manager, was installed as the first governor.
Gold Panning - Fort Langley became world famous as gold finds on the Fraser River were reported in 1858. It was a popular spot for prospectors to stop and stock up supplies. The kids tried their hand at gold panning and Serena was lucky enough to strike it twice!
Bastions & Gallery - bastions were lookout stations and also used as temporary housing. The gallery, or walkway between the bastions, offers a beautiful view of the entire fort.
Model Piece-On-Piece Building - Fort Langley's buildings were constructed using tongue-and-groove to save expensive metal nails and to make them easier to relocate. Kids had the opportunity to build a little play house model.

At the end of our field trip, we all sat around the fire pit and were told a true story: a blacksmith, Jean Baptiste Brûlé, accidentally caused a big fire at the fort on this very day in 1840. Ironically, his last name, Brûlé, means "burnt" in French!

1 comment:

  1. A really great day filled with knowledge
    of days past. very nice!!
    Love Nanny & Papa