Don’t be alarmed if gruff folks wearing top hats, carrying muskets, and playing the bagpipes dock their canoes in Fort Langley to trade their precious furs next weekend.
Brigade Days highlights British Columbia’s 19th century history, August 3 to 5, at Fort Langley National Historic Site (FLNHS).
Amandeep Johal, Brigade Days coordinator at FLNHS, said the annual celebration has taken place for three decades and is one of the site’s largest yearly events.
“During August long weekend, we try to reenact what Fort Langley was like as a trading post. At least 30 volunteer re-enactors put on costumes and live out the fur trade.”
Highlights include a fur trade fashion show, where the greatest grizzly garbs of the era will be modelled on Sunday at 12:30 p.m.
A “Fort Feats of Strength” competition pits contestants against each other in an old fashioned relay race. Anyone 18 or older can form a team of eight and enter the contest on the Sunday, Aug 4, at 2:30 p.m.
The most authentic experience by far will be when canoes carrying costumed actors float down the Fraser for the “Arrival of the Fur Brigades”on Monday Aug. 5 – just as Voyageurs would have done two century’s prior.
A procession led by bagpipers will take everyone to and from the historic site to witness the arrival at Fort Langley Mariana Park.
“Something new this year will be trading cards,” Johal explained. “Guests can bring anything they deem worthy to exchange for Brigade trading cards. There will be a tent for kids to bring these items and most re-enactors should have some cards.”
By anything, Johal told the Langley Advance Times, he means anything. Just as traders would have done, people are encouraged to see how successful they can be in obtaining the cards with what they already have.
Johal said people from as far south as Fort Nisqually in Tacoma, Washington will be coming up to celebrate the the fort’s history and add even more perspective and background to the mix.
“Everything we normally offer becomes all that much bigger,” Johal added. “For instance, instead of just one accredited blacksmith on site, we’ll have five.”
Packed programs each day feature Highland Dancing, historic weapons demonstrations, trapping techniques, and even “Washer Women’s laundry camp” showcasing how people in the 19th century washed their clothes.
The knowledge passed on to visitors comes from many exhibitors that have Kwantlen First Nations, French Canadian Voyaguer, and even fur trading family backgrounds – many of whom regularly share their heritage at the fort.
“[Brigade Days] is a focus on the tradition and heritage of the town itself. Fort Langley is the birthplace of B.C., all because it started as a shopping centre,” Johal said.
The fort will keep it’s regular hours for the weekend, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $7.80 while kids visit free.
For a full list of activities happening throughout the weekend, people can visit www.pc.gc.ca.
Is there more to this story?