Fort Langley has been on my “bucket list” for awhile.
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My previous camera club had organized a field trip there, but a scheduling conflict prevented me from joining them. However, the images that they brought back suggested that a visit would be worthwhile.
Following our 2016 road trip, Angela became interested in visiting National Historic Sites in South West BC and Vancouver Island. Unfortunately, busy schedules and bad weather always seemed to prevent a visit to Fort Langley.
We finally got an opportunity for a visit when Angela’s sister visited us, for the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday, in early October. The opportunity was too good to pass up.
Sadly, almost all of the original buildings were demolished before Fort Langley became a National Historic Site in 1923. The Storehouse is the only remaining building from the original Fort. Every other building on the site is a replica. Beginning in the 1950’s, replicas of the other buildings have been added to the site.
What is the significance of Fort Langley? Simple. BC started here. Fort Langley was the first permanent European settlement in BC. I was surprised to learn that Fort Langley became a Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) trading post in 1827, trading furs and fish with First Nations people. More important, the fort established a continuing HBC and British presence in the Fort ensured that there would be a continuing British presence in the Pacific North West. It served as a link between the HBC posts in the Interior; and the Pacific Ocean (leading to Britain)..
I shot a lot of images. But Fort Langley’s role can be summed up with three images.
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BC has some of the most challenging rivers in the world. Yet flat-bottom Bateau’s like this one delivered trading goods to interior trading posts in Interior locations like Fort Kamloops or Fort St James; while bringing back furs and salmon for export to the world. This meant transiting white-water rapids in the Fraser Canyon.
Fort Langley was also a self-sufficient farm, exporting produce to other HBC posts; and to the Russian-American Company in Alaska. Which brings us to the subject of goats. I’m including these goats because they stole the show. As you can see, one of them was smart enough to figure out that removing the lock on the gate was the key to freedom. He just wasn’t able to work out how.
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Back to the story, in 1858, the discovery of gold along the Fraser River changed everything. During the resulting gold rush, the Fort was the centre of activity for as many as 30,000 miners. Fearing an American takeover of the region, the British government proclaimed the Colony of British Columbia. In 1866, Colony of British Columbia was merged with the Colony of Vancouver Island. In 1871, the merged colony of British Columbia joined Canada as a province, and has never looked back.
Looking at the Fort itself, I was also struck by how differences in occupation and social status persisted, even on the frontier. The fort’s managers lived, slept and dined in the Big House.
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Meanwhile, the servants had very different quarters.
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When I was reading about the servant’s quarters, I was surprised to learn that many HBC employees were from Hawaii. I had known for many years, that Saltspring Island, in the Gulf Islands, had hosted a large Hawaiian settlement. In fact, one of my former co-workers was of Hawaiian descent and proud of it. However, I had always thought that his roots were in the Gulf Islands; not in the Fraser Valley. Who knew?
Would I go back? Yes. We are talking about the history of my home; and it’s fascinating. However, I think I would want to go on a weekday. While tripods aren’t prohibited, holiday crowds made using one a bit awkward. A weekday visit, with a monopod or tripod would work for me.
I hand-held all of these shots, using Auto-ISO because of changing light conditions. I used LR Classic CC, Nik Color Efex, Nik Silver Efex and Photoshop for post-processing.
Thanks for looking everyone.