Once a year, on the first Monday in August, a special celebration is staged on the Fraser River.
Participants don their voyageur costumes and become an integral part of Fort Langley’s Brigade Days celebrations. This year, Fort Langley Canoe Club (FLCC) is inviting the public to be part of this historic re-enactment and paddle from Mission to Fort Langley.
On Aug. 1, participants will meet in Fort Langley for an early morning drive to Mission where they will receive safety information and basic paddling instructions before launching the canoes. The journey down river from Mission to Fort Langley takes approximately three hours with a rest stop along the way. It’s a wonderful and unique way to see and experience the Fraser River and complete your long weekend. The brigade boats, in practised unison, will arrive at Fort Langley’s Marina Park at 1 p.m. and be welcomed by a black powder salute, bagpipes and a cheering crowd.
Once the dignitaries have ceremoniously been escorted ashore, the re-enactors will disembark. One of the canoes will be taken on a processional walk, lead by a bagpiper and dignitaries, into the Fort’s stockade where a light lunch of bannock and beans will await the paddlers. Each paddler will receive a small memento from Fort Langley Historical Park.
Fort Langley National Historic Site (parkscanada.gc.ca) is opening its doors free to the public. Even if you are not paddling you can take part in the celebrations by being part of the welcoming crowd on shore then follow behind the procession and enter the Fort stockade where there will be a historic encampment re-enactment, blacksmithing, coopering demonstrations and other entertainment. The village of Fort Langley is also a special place to stroll, shop or enjoy a sidewalk café.
The paddle from Mission to Fort Langley requires a nominal level of fitness (everyone paddles a total of three hours). Paddling experience is an asset, but not required. Participants must be 12 years or older and each paddler aged 18 and under must be accompanied by a responsible adult in the same boat.
Bring your own costume: baggy pants, plain dark shoes, loose cotton shirt, scarf or suitable hat. A sash is a nice addition if possible. Anything modern such as wrist watches and sunglasses, must be hidden from view.
Use sunscreen and bring a snack and water.
The cost for participating is $15 for FLCC members and $25 for non-members. These prices include day parking at Historic Fort Langley, ride to Mission, use of a paddle and personal floatation device (pfd), a light lunch in the Fort and a memento. Smiles, laughter, camaraderie, applause, that real-good-feeling when you do something special and a memory which will last a lifetime are all bonus.
More information about joining the paddle and pre-registration may be viewed at http://fortlangleycanoeclub.ca/voy_brigades_2011.html or email firstname.lastname@example.org.