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An interest in history became surprisingly personal for organizer of historic picnic in Langley City

A cousin she didn’t know about
At the historic picnic at Michaud House in Langley City in 2022, Réjean Bussières and Joanne Plourde performed in character as French Voyageurs from early history. (Langley Advance Times file)

Joanne Plourde’s fascination with history and the days of the voyageurs recently resulted in the discovery of a cousin she didn’t know about.

Plourde, who organizes an annual Langley City event devoted to the days of the fur trade and the voyageurs who made it possible, had traced her ancestry to one of two brothers in Kamouraska, Quebec.

One became a voyageur while the other remained in Kamouraska, likely becoming a farmer or fishermen.

When Plourde posted about her discovery online, it drew an unexpected response from historian Nancy Marguerite Anderson, who messaged her with the information that she, too, had an ancestor from Kamouraska.

“Our ancestors were brothers, and one of the two came out west,” Plourde told the Langley Advance Times.

As it turned out, Anderson is related to the brother who became a voyageur, while Plourde’s ancestor stayed in Kamouraska.

“That was a really nice connection,” Plourde remarked.

On Saturday, May 13, the unexpected cousins will both make presentations at the annual Heritage Picnic, organized by Plourde’s group, Voyageurs & Co, at Langley City’s historic Michaud House .

READ ALSO: VIDEO: Langley City heritage picnic shines a light on the almost-forgotten history of the Voyageurs

Plourde, a professional costumer whose credits include Cirque de Soleil and the series Smallville, will be providing era-accurate costumes for interested participants.

“I’ve always been fascinated with the costumes of the past,” Plourde remarked.

Anderson, who has described herself as an “accidental historian,” will be giving a presentation about stories from the west side of the Rocky Mountains.

Other presenters include host Sandra Reams, the custodian of Michaud House and an expert on its history, and musician Réjean Bussières, Seattle historian Robert Foxcurran, researcher Brodie Douglas, whose interests include the fur trade and Metis culture; Patrick Calihou, a B.C. Métis artist and wood worker who makes carved paddles and custom cedar row boats and canoes; Mark Forsythe, vice-president of the Langley Heritage Society, and lecturer Max Likin.

Finger food, homemade ice cream and live French/Canadian music are on the menu for the event.

It is the most ambitious Voyageurs & Co program yet, with Plourde describing it as laying the groundwork for next year, which will mark the bicentennial of the voyageurs trade.

Tickets can be purchased at under “The Heritage Picnic at Michaud House.”

They can also be purchased at the door Saturday morning, depending on availability.

More information about Voyageurs and Co. is available on their Facebook page.

READ ALSO: VIDEO: Vive les Voyageurs returns to historic Fort Langley

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Dan Ferguson

About the Author: Dan Ferguson

Dan Ferguson has worked for a variety of print and broadcast outlets in Canada and the U.S.
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