In November of 1824, an expedition was sent out to explore the shore line of Puget Sound and the waters of the Fraser River.  The party was comprised of McMillan, three clerks and an interpreter, 36 men and an Iroquois Freehunter and his slave.

The three clerks were:

Thomas McKay, step-son to Dr. McLoughlin (Dr M married the widow of Thomas' father; the elder McKay accompanied Alexander Mackenzie on his expedition to the coast in 1793)

Francis Noel Annance (which is spelled "Annanour" in the Washington Historical Quarterly)

John Work (whose family name was originally Wark, but because HBC made his commission out in the Work spelling, that was the spelling he used thereafter.)

The interpeter was Michael Laframbois, and the 36 men -- listed as they were spelled in Work's journal -- were:

  • Jas. Portneuf Abanaker
  • Jos. Loui Abanaker
  • Louis Anawano, Jr.
  • Alexis Aubuchon
  • Peo Bean (Islander)
  • Cannon (American)
  • Cawano, Jr.
  • F.H. Condon
  • Leo Depuis
  • Joseph Despard
  • Louis Diomilea
  • J.B. Dubian
  • Joseph Grey (Islander)
  • Louis Hanatiohe, Jr.
  • Chas. Jaundeau
  • Wm. Johnson (Englishman)
  • Pierre Karagaragab, Jr.
  • Pierre Karaguana, Jr.
  • Andre Le Chappel
  • Segwin le Deranti
  • Piere L'Etang
  • Andre Lonctoin
  • Momonta (Islander)
  • Ettuni Oniager
  • Jacques Patvin
  • Pierre Patvin
  • Basil Pioner
  • P.B. Proveau
  • Chas. Rondeau
  • Louis Shatakorata, Jr
  • Louis Shorakorta (Islander)
  • Thos. Toyanel (Islander)
  • Pierre Villandri
  • Louis Vivet
  • Peter Wagner
  • Thos. Zawaiton (Islander)

They brought the Iroquois Freehunter along because he was acquainted with the coast line for part of the way.  The voyage was made in three boats.

Thursday, November 18, 1824: left Fort George, 1:15pm, picking up Pierre Charles on November 30th.

Monday, December 13th: entered Mud Bay and started up the Nicomekl River. Their Indian guides wanted to go by way of Point Roberts, but the Nicomekl led to a portage to the Coweechan River (their name for the Fraser). The stream was blocked with driftwood through which the guides cut a passage that was "hardly wide enough for the white man's bateaux."

Tuesday, December 14th: Portage was commenced. Boats and baggage were carried for 3970 yards, a little more than half the total distance. The portage was through what is now know as the Langley Prairie, and they described it as being "rich, swampy soil, and abounding in beaver."

Wednesday December 15th: at the Salmon River, and the end of the portage, covering another 3930 yards, for a total distance of 7910 yards. Mr Stanley Towle, of Jardine, said that the spot where the British Columbia Railway Trestle bridge near Jardine stands was called "The Portage" in his younger days. A similar name is recorded on the Nicomekl at the back of the Michaud farm.

Thursday December 16th: At 11 am the expedition started up the Salmon River, and reached the Fraser at 1 o'clock.

Friday December 17th: spent proceeding up the Fraser as far as Hatzic Slough. They spent the night at the mouth of the river which later came to be confined by the Canadian Pacific Railway embankment and the pumping station.

Saturday December 18th: they started the return trip, made entirely by water.

Sunday December 19th: passed the mouth of the Pitt River -- though it wasn't yet named the Pitt River. However in the journal for 1827 it is said they marked this occassion, in 1824, by carving "H.B.C." on two trees on the south side of the Fraser.

Monday December 20th: passed Point Roberts and Birch Bay

Thursday December 30th: arrived Fort George

A few months later Dr. McLoughlin moved his headquarters to a new spot up the Columbia, naming it Fort Vancouver; it was the capital of the company on the Pacific Coast for the next 20 years.  Then he sent another expedition from Fort Vancouver to the Fraser, to select a site and establish a trading post to be called Fort Langley.

The Birth of Fort Langley

Wednesday June 27th, 1827: James McMillan, the head of the 1824 party, left Fort Vancouver with two boats early in the morning.

Saturday, July 21st: the party anchored a mile inside the mouth of the Fraser.

Sunday, July 23rd: the journal mentions "Point Garry".

Tuesday, July 24th: they pass the two Hudson's Bay Company trees, and the "Quoittle or Pitt's River."

Thursday, July 26th: Mcmillan selected the site for the fort on a piece of land below the mouth of the Salmon River, on the south bank of the Fraser, which, today, is called Derby and is opposite the A. & L. logging railway teminus above Port Haney.

Monday July 30th: They landed the horses on and started the laborious task of clearing the land.

Wednesday August 1, 1827: The first stick for Fort Langley was cut, said McMillan in a letter to a friend, John McLeod.

Fort Langley was named after Thomas Langley, a prominent member and stockholder of that name, who was associated with Sir J. Pelly in the management of the company.

Fort Langley was moved up-stream in 1839 due mostly to the fact that the river showed an alarming propensity to flood the origin site. Then in 1840, due to carelessness with a fire, the fort almost burnt to the ground. It was rebuild, however, and continued operations until 1896.

From Archibald McDonald's journal, we get a description of Fort Langley in 1828.

"The fort is 135 X 120 feet with two good bastions, and a gallery four feet wide all round. A building of three compartments for the men, a small log house of two compartments in which the gentlemen themselves reside, and a store, are now occupied, besides which there are two other buildings, one a good dwelling house with an excellent cellar and a spacious garret. A couple of well-finished chimneys are up, and the whole inside is now ready for wainscoating and partitioning. Four large windows are in front, and one in each end, and one, with a corresponding door, in the back. The other is a low building with only two square rooms, with a fireplace in each, and a kitchen adjoining made of slat. The out-door work consists of three fields, each planted with 30 bushels of potatoes, and looks well. The provisions shed, exclusive of table store, is furnished with 3000 dried salmon, 16 tiers salted salmon, 36 cwt. of flour, 2 cwt. of grease, and 30 bushels of salt."

source: Fort Langley 1827-1827: A Century of Settlement in the Valley of the Lower Fraser River, by Denys Nelson, Fort Langley, BC. July 1927

If you have any info on the members of the 1824 expedition, drop us a note, we'd love to hear from you.

The following information comes from a pamphlet Lisa Peppan got while up in Canada in March of 2000.  It shows not only cool places to check out, but it has a map showing where Fort Langley is located on Mavis Street, just off Glover, between the Lougheed Hwy and Highway 1, on the south bank of the Fraser River . . . east of Vancouver BC via Highway 1.

The pamphlet was put out by Canadian Heritage/Patrimoine canadien and The Corporation of the Township of Langley.

For up-to-date information on any of the below, please their individual websites.

Fort Langley: Birthplace of British Columbia
Things To Do

Fort Langley National Historic Site

Location: 23433 Mavis Street
Open 7days/week March 1 - October 31
10:00 am - 5 p.m. daily
November - February for booked tours
Admission Fee/group rates
Costumed guides, children's activities, new exhibits and programs. Gift shop.

Information: (604) 513-4777

BC Farm Machinery and Agricultural Museum

Location: 9131 King St.
Hours: April to October - Tues.
to Sat. 10:00 am to 4:45 pm
Admission Fee

Information (604)888-2273

Langley Centennial Museum and National Exhibition Centre

Location: Mavis & King Streets
Summer hours:
Monday - Saturday 10:00am - 4:45 pm.
Sunday 1:00 pm - 4:45 pm
Winter Hours: Closed Monday
(September - May)
Admission by donation
Gift shop and school programs

Information: (604) 888-3922

Village of Fort Langley

An Historic Village with a Difference!
Disitinctive shops, restaurants and antiques.

Tourist Information (604) 888-1477

Special Events at Fort Langley in 2010
Click the link for more Information on individual events.
French-Canadian Winter Festival
     8th Olympic Torch Relay
     12th-28th Gold Rush in the Valley
     21st Historic Half Marathon
     8th-12th Spring Break
     Weekends Village Lantern Tour
     9th Mother's Day
     22th-24th Victoria Day Weekend
     29th Summer Preview
     4th-5th Children's Festival
     20th Father's Day
     19th, 21st Aboriginal Day
     19th, 21st Great Rides
     1st Canada Day
     17th Parks Day
     31st-2nd Brigade Days
     4th-6th Farm & Harvest Fair
     26th Rivers Day
     1st-3rd, 8th-10th, 15th-17th, 22nd-24th Ghost Walks
     9th-11th Cranberry Festival
     29th-31st Eerie Nights of Fright
     19th Douglas Day
     20th Douglas Day and Victorian Parade
     9th Old-Fashioned Musical Christmas
     22nd-2nd Holiday Festivities in Fort Langley

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moved 28 July 2002
updated 21 July 2013