It was the first Brigade Days at historic Fort Langley since the pandemic, and “Popcorn Kate,” one of the historic re-enactors who portray real-life figures from the fur trade days, was happy to be back.
“We’re glad to see people we haven’t seen in years,” Kate told the Langley Advance Times on B.C. Day, Aug. 1, as the three-day tribute to the fur trade drew to a close.
When she isn’t honouring the memory of the mining camp “follower” who participated in gold rushes in California, the Fraser River, Cariboo, Atlin and even the Klondike, Kate goes by the name of Sue Morhun, from Oliver.
“We’re family, we re-enactors,” she said. “We’ve been greeting each other with hugs.”
It was hot, and there were mosquitoes, making the experience of wearing dark, heavy period-accurate clothing and camping overnight in canvas tents a little more challenging.
“Just a little bit hot, and just a little bit itchy,” is how Morhun described it.
Re-enactor Jesse MacIntosh, who said his hands “have been absolutely covered in dots,” set up a whimsical miniature fur-trade style trap, with a dead mosquito placed between the jaws.
“I haven’t actually got any mosquitoes [with the trap] yet,” he said, smiling.
“Piper Fraser,” who piped fellow re-enactors to the morning flag raising, and afternoon trip to the river for the arrival of the fur brigades, was portrayed by Langley’s Colin Barrett.
His historic counterpart, Colin Fraser, was a fellow bagpipes player who just happened to have the same first name, Barrett explained.
“It wasn’t much of a reach.”
Fraser was the personal piper to the-then Hudson’s Bay Company governor, George Simpson.
“Colin was a good piper,” Barrett said, one who won a race against other pipers, walking two miles while playing.
Barrett, who used to play the pipes for the local Legion branch, has been participating in historic re-enactments since 1984, at the suggestion of someone who thought a piper would be a good addition.
“I didn’t have a musket [and] I wasn’t into black powder,” Barrett remarked.
It was a busy day for the B.C. Farm Museum in Fort Langley, with close to 500 visitors, who donated about $1,000.
Museum president Karen Long said the organizers were “very pleased” with the response.
“The weather was amazing,” Long remarked.
“We had a breeze and [it was] a little cloudy.”
Among the attractions were blacksmithing and rope making demonstrations, along with the Aldor Acres petting zoo, Edmundson Jazz Band, and a concession by the Fort Langley Lions club.
It was the 10th year “except for COVID” for the Fraser Valley G Scale Friends popular model train display, said club member and organizer Laurie Griffiths.
“We’ve been into trains all our lives,” said Griffiths, who, like most members, started with smaller HO scale trains before moving up to the larger G scale models.
“We don’t really get old, we just get bigger toys.”
Next door, the Langley Centennial Museum reported a smaller turnout for their B.C. Day opening, with visitors taking advantage of the air-conditioned premises shop for clear-out bargains at the gift shop.
What is billed as the Centennial Museum’s final exhibition in its current home, “Beginning’s End” is a send-off to the old site before the museum relocates, moving across the street into the new Salishan Place, likely sometime next year.
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