A place that’s steeped in history marks a historic occasion this BC Day long weekend.
The 30th Brigade Days takes place Saturday to Monday (July 30 to Aug. 1) at the Fort Langley National Historic Site.
While the event launched in 1979, the fort decided to stick with celebrating the last 30 years, since a huge event was held in 1986 for Expo 86.
Brigade Days is such a fixture, second generation volunteers are now taking part.
Since the inception of Brigade Days, dozens of people from B.C. and Washington State have set up a period encampment and demonstrated skills like quilting, braided rag rugs, fireweed jelly, outdoor laundry, Royal Engineer display and demo, flint and steel fire making, playing wooden spoons, traditional fingerweaving, playing the bones, beading looms, cattail projects, trapping, raw spices, tailoring, knot typing, historic weapons, and historic cooking.
Now, some of the original re-enactors’ children are carrying on the tradition.
This weekend, explore the encampment of Hudson’s Bay Company workers, Aboriginal traders, Royal Engineers, Metis trappers and more as they swap stories, play music, and show off traditional skills.
Re-enactors dressed in period costume will be seen throughout the fort.
A highlight each year is the arrival of the fur brigades on holiday Monday.
On Aug. 1 at 1 p.m., re-enactors will paddle to Fort Langley and unload their cargo of furs, barrels, and dignitaries at Fort Langley’s Marina Park.
While the canoe brigades make their way towards shore, the air will be filled with the sound of bagpipes and a black powder salute, to welcome the brigades.
The traditional reenactment portrays the annual return of fur traders in the 1800s, who transported the year’s intake of furs from interior and northern trading posts to Fort Langley, later to be delivered by ship back to England.
Later that evening is the annual “Picnic in the Fort,” a free concert presented by the Fort Langley Community Improvement Society.
The concert includes performances by the Langley Music School Fiddlers with Andrea Taylor leading in for the Celtic headliner, Pat Chessel.
Regular admission fees apply for the weekend, or visit free with an annual pass. Adult day admission is $7.80; family admission is $19.80.
In 1848 Fort Langley became the main depot for the Hudson’s Bay Company on the west coast. Every summer in the 1850s, the fur brigades traveled 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 also brought other supplies back from Fort Langley at the end of the summer.
Who’s up for cretons, wild rice, duck and bulrush shoots, bear sausage, stew cooked with hot rocks, and bannock?
These are just a few of the dishes that have appeared in the annual Encampment cook-off at the fort this weekend. Re-enactors will be facing off with their traditional dishes on Sunday starting at 4 pm.
On the trail
With Canada’s 150th birthday coming up in less than a year’s time, the fort invites the public to join in on a historic, epic trek to follow the Hope Brigade Trail.
Imagine traveling 70 kilometres from Tullameen to Fort Langley on the same route used by the Hudson’s Bay Company over 150 years ago alongside experienced hikers, fur trade re-enactors, and ambassadors of the trail. The same route was used by the Hudson’s Bay Company to get the furs from the interior forts to the coast. During Brigade Days, come hear one of our 2017 Hope Brigade Trail talks to find out more. Saturday July 30th at 12:30 pm, Sunday, July 31st at 2:30 pm or Monday, August 1st at 12 pm. Can’t make it? Message us to find out more.