Historic Fort Langley lights up during Heritage Holidays in the Cooperage building. (Parks Canada/Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Christmas the way it used to be, at historic Fort Langley

Traditional festivities are based on actual documents from the early days of the fort

Letters and journals from the early days of historic Fort Langley show what Christmas was like, living in a fur trade outpost in a remote wilderness environment, where temperatures would plummet, and letters from home could take more than a year to arrive.

Christa Hanson, interpretation coordinator at the fort, was struck by the “sense of distance” revealed in the hand-written entries that recorded day-to-day events at the fort, as well as letters home.

“It really transports you to another world,” Hanson related.

“The idea of being in this vast wilderness and the loneliness people felt.”

Hanson reviewed the texts as part of her research for the annual heritage Christmas event at the historic fort which gets underway this Saturday, Dec. 21.

Featuring recreations of Christmas events from those days, the holiday festival runs until the end of the month, except for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s day.

Back then, winters were considerably colder, noted Fort Langley National Historic Site promotion officer Nancy Hildebrand.

“It was frozen enough that you could walk across the Fraser River,” Hildebrand remarked.

A Fort Langley journal entry from Tuesday, 18 December, 1827, the first year the fort was built, reveals how much harsher the winter could be back then, in what was sometimes referred to as the “little ice age,” a time of below-normal temperatures in Europe and North America.

“Pierre Charles went off early. All the men at the Fort occupied as yesterday. The cold is increasing, and the river is frozen across so solidly that the tide does not as usually break it up.”

The next day, it was even colder.

“Severe cold. The ice is so strong that the river may be crossed. The men have now finished hauling the wood for the mess house.”

READ ALSO: VIDEO: Fort Langley Christmas tree lighting an emotional experience for volunteer

Longing for home and loneliness fills almost every line of a letter William Cromarty, the master cooper (a maker of casks, barrels, buckets, and tubs) at Fort Langley, sent to his brother in Scotland, dated March 18, 1852, almost pleading for news.

“I received a letter from John about Christmas, he told me you was all alive but my parents are very feeble. I hope the fishing is doing better now. I heard that Peter was home and had gowen (sic) out to Canada. I wish him well but I would rather he had come here.”

A full version of the letter will be on display at the fort when heritage holidays get underway.

“Visitors will be able to reflect on Canada’s history and culture as they enjoy the peaceful setting of Fort Langley National Historic Site,” Hildebrand commented.

Attendees will be able to taste a roasted chestnut, watch demonstrations, hear live music, and take a guided tour along the lantern-lit pathway to the different buildings in the fort.

Hot drinks and heritage-inspired treats and lunch are available at lelәm’ at the fort café on site, and unique gift ideas await at šxwimelә Boutique & Gifts.

Heritage Holidays at the fort takes place December 21-23, and 27-30, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Admission is $7.80 per adult, $6.55 per senior, and annual site passes are on sale for $15.70 per adult and $13.20 per senior.

On Dec. 25, 26 and Jan. 1 the site will be closed.

READ MORE: Photo: Photographic Memories

Activity Schedule:

10:00 a.m. Site opens

10:30 a.m. Guided tour (Cooperage)

11:15 a.m. White Glove talk (Big House) where visitors will have the opportunity of hands-on contact with heritage documents that require wearing gloves to prevent damage.

11:30 a.m. Pen & ink (Big House)

12:00 p.m. Guided tour (Cooperage)

12:45 p.m. White Glove talk (Big House)

1:00 p.m. Pen & ink (Big House)

3:00 p.m. Guided tour (Cooperage)

3:45 p.m. White Glove talk (Big House)

4:00 p.m. Pen & ink (Big House)

4:30 p.m. Flag lowering

5:00 p.m. Site closes

Music Schedule:

Saturday, Dec. 21

1 p.m. to 3 p.m. – Lisa Shepherd and Keith Hill (Servants’ Quarters)

1 p.m. to 5 p.m. – Mount Pleasant Brass Band (Theatre)

Sunday, Dec. 22

12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. – Vita Quartet carolers (Theatre or fire pit)

1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. – Harpist Leanne Page and Conner (Big House)

Monday, Dec. 23

1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. – Harpist Leanne Page (Big House)

Friday, Dec. 27

1 p.m. to 3 p.m. – Lisa Shepherd and Keith Hill (Servants’ Quarters)

Saturday, Dec. 28

1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. – Harpist Leanne Page (Big House)

Sunday Dec. 29

12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. – Vita Quartet carolers (Theatre or fire pit)



dan.ferguson@langleyadvancetimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Historic Fort Langley heritage interpreter Hazel Gludo, a Kwantlen elder, demonstrated chestnut roasting during Heritage Holidays in the Cooperage building. (Parks Canada/Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Comments are closed

Just Posted

VIDEO: Medea Ebrahimian mourned by friends and family

Memorial held for one the of three found dead at a house fire in Langley Meadows last month

LETTER: Politicians should be held accountable for their decisions

Another letter writer is critical of Langley Township’s handling of the Yorkson community park

Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce to hold series of COVID-related webinars

Tourism updates, Canada Emergency Response Benefit details, and public speaking workshops expected

Langley seniors centre offers food care and tax help but no recreation

The seniors facility has announced a partial reopening with limited services

17-year-old Langley resident Dylan Patterson earns free Chevy Malibu

Integra Tire owner Peter Foreman held an essay contest to determine a fitting recipient for the car

VIDEO: Musqueam Chief captures captivating footage of bald eagle catching meal

‘This is why we have chosen to live here since time immemorial,’ Chief Wayne Sparrow’s nephew says

Semi and BMW collide on South Surrey highway

At least one person to hospital, both vehicles sustained significant damage

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest

Liberal party finished 2019 having spent $43 million, raised $42 million

All political parties had until midnight June 30 to submit their financial reports for last year

Most Read