Monday, August 04, 2008

Happy 150th - BC!

Today is B.C. Day and our province celebrates its 150th birthday. One of the best places to celebrate is Fort Langley, where it all began.

The Fort was busy on Saturday when we visited. The grounds were full of people dressed in costume, going about their pioneer business. We took the self-guided tour and learned a lot about B.C.'s history.

Fort Langley was founded in 1827 by the Hudson Bay Company. It was first a little further west on the Fraser River from its present site and moved to where it sits now in 1839. It was in a good location, in the middle of a large Aboriginal population and prospered first as fur a trading post.

Furs were bound together and pressed into neat bundles using this press.

The HBC encouraged its employees to intermarry with Aboriginal women. This helped them break into the Aboriginal trading networks and soon the HBC in Fort Langley was also trading farm products and salt fish (mostly salmon).

The storehouse is the only original building left on the site. It is full of typical supplies - fur pelts and barrels...

Hudson Bay blankets and sacks...

packages ready for shipping

After the U.S. border was fixed at the 49th parallel in 1846, Fort Langley became the depot for the summer "fur brigades" which carried fur from the interior posts through the mountains to Fort Langley. They returned with winter supplies.

Blacksmith shop

Kitchen in the Servants' Quarters

Cradle, churns and broom

Servants' sleeping quarters

The hearth with hide rugs

In 1858 gold was discovered on the Fraser River. That changed everything. Fort Langley became the starting point for the hordes of gold seekers, most from the United States. The British feared an American takeover. Thus in late 1858 (November 19th) James Douglas, a Hudson's Bay Company manager and Governor of Vancouver Island, read a proclamation of the British government.

It declared the territory a British colony. The proclamation named the new territory British Columbia and installed Douglas as the first governor on the condition he sever his fur trade connections.

Douglas recommended Fort Langley be the capital city of the territory. But the British Royal Engineers overruled him in favor of New Westminster which they thought easier to defend. Later, when Vancouver Island joined the province, Victoria became the capital.

Carving canoe paddles.

Women showing how to card and spin wool.

On our way back to the car we passed the bannock stand we had resisted earlier and bought two large hunks of this delicious Aboriginal pan bread. I figure if you're partaking of history you might as well make a thorough job of it and engage all the senses!


More reading for B.C. Day - Articles about the contribution and faith of some of B.C.s fathers - by Rev. Ed. Hird (excerpted from Battle for the Soul of Canada):

- Governor James Douglas was strengthened by Scripture.

- Mapmaker David Thompson: a godly figure

- Frederick Seymour: the forgotten governor of B.C.

- B.C.'s first war and its Common Prayer warrior


Anonymous said...

Very interesting, links, articles and photos. It's encouraging to know about the faith of our founding fathers of Canadian confederation; also, the faith of our founding fathers of British Columbia. -E.

Iris Godfrey said...

Very informative and I love the pictures. I have never been to BC (Washington state yes -- BC no) so I glean all I can from the photo's. Thanks so for sharing.

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