Visitors will get the chance to try maple taffy at the Vive les Voyageurs festival. Courtesy Fort Langley National Historic Site

Métis dancing, maple taffy eating, and more at the Fort

Vive les Voyageurs Winter Festival at the Fort takes place Jan. 19 to 20.

French culture will be in full swing at the Fort Langley National Historic Site from Jan. 19-20 to celebrate the 10th annual Vive les Voyageurs Festival.

The festival is a French-Canadian winter event that allows visitors to experience interactive cultural practices such as Métis dancing, eating maple taffy, and celebrating the important of trappers, interpreters and voyageurs who helped shape the history of the Fort and of Canada.

“Fort Langley National Historic Site developed the Vive les Voyageur Festival as a way to celebrate the Fort’s French-Canadian heritage and to engage the region’s Francophone population by offering a fun setting for everyone to discover the culture and practice the language. It is one of our favourite events with a full line-up of music, cultural demonstrations and great food,” explained Nancy Hildebrand, Fort Langley National Historic Site promotion officer.

The two days of French-Canadian culture include a Métis dance workshop, spoon and jig demonstration, flint and steel demonstration, Metis buffalo coat presentation, fur trade game show, and music performances.

Hildebrand said there’s a “substantial Francophone community in British Columbia.”

“While the number of households in Langley where French is spoken as the first official language is not a large number, the interest in learning French and experiencing the culture across the Lower Mainland is very high, as we see based on the demand for French Immersion in schools.”

And although there’s not a huge number of French speakers in Langley, Hildebrand added that festival visitors are often surprised that many of the original Fort Langley workers were French-Canadian.

“Many developed legendary reputations for their work transporting furs by canoe across the wild reaches of the country. They helped negotiate trade with First Nations, and navigated great rivers, carrying bundles of fur over portages,” explained Hildebrand.

While the festival itself doesn’t start until Jan. 19, a variety of French programming for students has been taking place since Jan. 14 and goes until Jan. 25.

The school program version of the Vive les Voyageurs Festival gives over a hundred students each day the opportunity to experience six different French-Canada activities.

“Students will get to try maple taffy, discover voyageur tools, learn to dance a jig, weave, meet with a Kwantlen elder and even participate in an escape room, all the while learning some new French words and connecting with French-Canadian culture,” explained Hildebrand.

Vive les Voyageurs Festival runs on Jan. 19 and 20 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both days.

Admission is $7.80 for adults, $6.55 for seniors, and free for youth 17 and younger.

For a complete schedule of events visit https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/lhn-nhs/bc/langley/activ/calendrier-calendar#92f3a824-ea79-4223-8c38-4ea20a7c04a5

 

One of several re-enactors at Vive les Voyageurs Winter Festival last year. Dan Ferguson Black Press Media

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