Joanne Estelle Plourde (centre) sang a traditional song. (Dan Ferguson Langley Advance Times)

History, with pastries, fruit and lemonade

Langley picnic a celebration of founders

An online description of Annacis Island makes a passing reference to the man it was named for, noting it is a contraction of “Annance’s Island,”for Noel François Annance, a Hudson’s Bay Company clerk who travelled with Chief Factor James McMillan to found Fort Langley in 1827.

In fact, there is considerably more to the story of Annance, according to Joanne Estelle Plourde, who portrayed him at a Sunday picnic and fundraiser for the Langley Heritage Society at historic Michaud House in Langley City on the B.C. Day long weekend (Sunday, August 4th).

Annance, she said, was a “highly educated” man who also happened to be great at hunting, traits that won him his job with the McMillan expedition.

He was the great-grandson of a couple who had been kidnapped in Massachusetts and raised by indigenous Abenakis, Plourde explained.

“That’s the reason why he was educated at Moor’s Indian Charity School in Hanover, New Hampshire,” Plourde described.

“Then he entered Darthmouth College in 1810 for three years. [It was] a really high education for the days.”

His written accounts of his explorations were near-poetic, with descriptions of riding out “boisterous storms and waves,” and how “the ground wept and moaned” as a result.

Plourde is a history buff who stages events like the picnic to raise awareness about almost-forgotten historical characters.

She founded Voyageurs and Co. to dramatize and preserve the stories of the Voyageurs, French Canadian paddlers during the fur trade.

Members dress up in traditional garb and sing French, Canadian, and First Nation songs.

READ MORE: VIDEO: A walk through history, in costume

The Michaud picnic began with a visit to nearby Portage park, where an expedition from the Hudson’s Bay Company portaged to the Salmon River and on the Fraser River, searching for a site to build what would be known as Fort Langley.

Then at Michaud House, over tea , pastries, fruit, and lemonade,Maurice Guibord, President of the La Société historique francophone de la Colombie-Britannique (SHFCB), gave a presentation about the historic building at 5204 204 Street in Langley City.

It was built in 1888 by Joseph and Georgiana Michaud, the first French-Canadian family to settle in the Langley area.

Michaud House was once a thriving dairy farm while the very first Roman Catholic mass was said to take place inside the house.

The structure was designated as a heritage site in 1980 and underwent restorations by the Langley Historical Society and Arts Council.

More information about Voyageurs and Co. is available on their Facebook page.

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