|Today I did a bit of re-organizing of things in the motorhome & now I can find what I want most of the time. I’ve decided this is officially the start of my sightseeing trip with the major objective of learning more about the history & geography of Canada, plus seeing some outstanding scenery on the way.
It was overcast again so I took my umbrella when I walked to Fort Langley but didn’t need it all morning & the sun came out for brief periods this afternoon although the temperature didn’t get much above 16C.
Built in 1827, Fort Langley was one of a chain of Hudson’s Bay Company fur trading posts scattered throughout western Canada. Because of its position on the Fraser River, it became an important link between the inland HBC posts & the coast (& ultimately Britain). The natives would bring furs & fish to Fort Langley which they would trade for blankets & other goods.
However, the Indians didn’t want to hunt their native wildlife on such a scale so they convinced the Company traders to accept salmon & cranberries. Soon, Fort Langley coopers were making wooden barrels to ship salted salmon to Hawaii & cranberries to California. The region around Chilliwack is still an important cranberry growing area.
In 1846 the border with the USA was finally defined at the 49th parallel. There was some talk of the border being the Columbia River (now the border between Oregon & Washington) so the region had been in dispute between the British & Americans & the HBC moved quickly to protect its trade routes north of the border.
In 1858, the discovery of gold on the Fraser River changed everything. Suddenly 30,000 miners came calling & fearful of an American takeover of this resource-rich region, the British government quickly made a move. In November 1858, Governor James Douglas proclaimed the Colony of British Columbia here at Fort Langley.
In 1866, the Colony of British Columbia merged with the Colony of Vancouver Island, then in 1871, British Columbia became a province of Canada with Victoria as the capital.
Over time, business at Fort Langley declined & many of its buildings were destroyed by fire but in recognition of its importance in the story of Canada, it became a National Historic Site in 1923 & since then many of its buildings have been reconstructed.
When I arrived at the fort, hundreds of small school-kids were running loose everywhere but one of the guides assured me that they’d all be gone within ½ an hour & after that it was lovely & quiet so I could enjoy the atmosphere & listen to their excellent audio guide.