by Nancy Hildebrand
Photo Credit to Parks Canada.
Canada: the land where wild rocky coastlines, endless forests and diverse modern culture combine. Where you can walk in a rainforest, enjoy a maple latté and see a beaver all before breakfast. Is the west coast of Canada on your bucket list? Then 2017 is the year to visit. In honor of the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation, Canada’s national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas are offering free general admission.
If you are drawn to the beauty of the Pacific Northwest, then chart your course through the beautiful Fraser Valley. Spend a day at Fort Langley National Historic Site, the birthplace of the province of British Columbia. Here, you can connect with the stories of the men and women whose simple actions shaped Canada’s future.
Located just 50 minutes east of Vancouver and 30 minutes north of the U.S.-Canada border, Fort Langley is a picturesque village packed with interesting shops and restaurants along a quiet arm of the Fraser River. This same river, as well as its First Nations inhabitants and their rich resources, is what induced the Hudson’s Bay Company to establish a trading post in 1827 on this site, 50 years before Vancouver’s first neighbourhood popped up.
Start your day by touring our scenic coastal landscape, and delight your senses with a stop at one of the wineries or specialty farm markets on the Langley Circle Farm Tour. Then make your way to Fort Langley National Historic Site, where you will be welcomed at our Visitor Center and spacious bus parking. (Photo Credit to Parks Canada.)
Groups can book ahead to get an introductory guided tour with an engaging costumed Parks Canada interpreter. You’ll discover that Fort Langley was a truly unique place. You will definitely want to snap a photo in the Big House, the spot where British Columbia began, to show your friends back home.
Plan on having lunch in the charming on-site restaurant, lelem’ at the fort, operated by the Kwantlen First Nation, who were the original fort trading partners 190 years ago. Today, they are eager to share local favorites, coffee and baking with your group, as well as great souvenirs in the gift shop, Sxwimele.
If your group is keen on history, you should definitely reserve the “Faces of Fort Langley Audio Tour,” where colourful characters bring to life the inter-related personal stories behind the Fort’s history. Pick up a multilingual audio wand for a small fee, and choose from English, French, Spanish, Mandarin, Japanese and German.
Learn how the colony of British Columbia’s first governor took a stand at Fort Langley during the Fraser River gold rush and forged a milestone in Canadian history. Hear how a chief trader in 1840 rebuilt Fort Langley after a catastrophic fire. An elder shares legends about the First Nations people’s reverence for the local bounty of cedar and salmon.
As you listen, set your own pace exploring the Fort from end to end. Climb the palisade and bastion to scan the Fraser River for echoes of the Fort’s noble trading past. Stop in to chat firsthand with the costumed blacksmith or cooper hard at work.
After you explore the site, save at least an hour to explore the village shops located within walking distance from the site.
If you are touring Vancouver Island, be sure to visit Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Sites near Victoria, BC.
To book a group tour and meal at Fort Langley National Historic Site, please phone (604) 513-4799 or e-mail us at Fort.Langley@pc.gc.ca. Visit pc.gc.ca/eng/lhn-nhs/bc/langley/index.aspx to learn more. For more information on the Langley Circle Farm Tour and wineries, visit circlefarmtour.com/langley. To book nearby accommodations, visittourism-langley.ca.
Photo Credit to Parks Canada.