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

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

 

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)

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)

Just Posted

Kevin Kelly, and his wife and hereditary chief Marilyn Gabriel. (Langley Advance Times files)
Leaked memo shows head of Kwantlen business group ‘unavailable’

Earlier this month a letter about “allegations” in the businesses was sent to band members

Langley Lodge CEO Debra Hauptman, B.C. seniors advocate Isobel Mackenzie and Shannon Woykin, Langley Meals on Wheels, took part in the recent seniors summit. (Photo composite)
COVID shone harsh spotlight on Langley seniors health and wellness issues

Isolation, housing, food insecurity and more discussed at recent seniors summit

Langley Arts Council has launched a new Facebook page for local artists to submit projects and keep in contact. (Special to The Star)
Langley Arts Council launches Facebook page for local art community to connect

Artists, artisans, creators, photographers, and musicians can share upcoming gigs, exhibitions

Volunteers Jessica Horst (L) and Angela Womitowy (center) and Lisa Dreves, LEPS Stewardship Coordinator (R) stand in the middle of a clearing they hacked out near Betrand Creek on Saturday, May 15 (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Battling invading plants in Langley

May is invasive species month in BC. It isn’t a celebration.

(Black Press Media file)
VIDEO: Langley RCMP officer takes down robbery suspect

Brookswood residents impressed by police response to backyard bandit

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Sicamous RCMP Sgt. Murray McNeil and Cpl. Wade Fisher present seven-year-old Cody Krabbendam of Ranchero with an award for bravery on July 22, 2020. (Contributed)
7-year old Shuswap boy receives medal of bravery for rescuing child at beach

Last summer Cody Krabbendam jumped into the lake to save another boy from drowning

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the province’s COVID-19 vaccine program, May 10, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays below 500 a day over weekend

14 more deaths, down to 350 in hospital as of Monday

Royal Bay Secondary School’s rainbow crosswalk was vandalized shortly after being painted but by Monday, coincidentally the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the crosswalk had been cleaned up and students had surrounded it with chalk messages of support and celebration. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C. high’s school’s pride crosswalk restored following ‘hateful’ graffiti attack

Hate terms, racial slur, phallic images spray-painted at Greater Victoria high school

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Terrance Mack would have celebrated his 34th birthday on May 13, 2021. Mack’s family has identified him as the victim of a homicide in an apartment on Third Avenue in Port Alberni sometime in April. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Family identifies Ucluelet man as victim of Vancouver Island homicide

Terrance Mack being remembered as ‘kind, gentle’ man

Vancouver Canucks’ Jake Virtanen (18) and Calgary Flames’ Josh Leivo, front right, vie for the puck as goalie Jacob Markstrom, back left, watches during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, on Saturday, February 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen sued over alleged sexual assault

Statement of claim says the woman, identified only by her initials, suffered physical and emotional damages

Linda Annis, executive director of Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers, at press conference Monday. (Submitted photo)
Crime Stoppers receiving $200K from province for ‘Guns and Gangs’ tip line campaign

Executive director Linda Annis broke the news Monday morning in Surrey

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Most Read