HomeComing 2001

Oh, people, what a weekend it was!

(The size of this page is testimony to that.  I tried hard to make it a quick loading page, but the best I could do was 128 seconds at 28.8 baud.)


Photo by Al Kline All I knew for certain when I left my place Friday morning was that we had a room reserved at the fort for our use over the weekend.

As I drove north, I worried over a million small things that -- in the end -- didn't matter one bit, and the closer I got to the fort, the less I worried and the more excited I got.  The yellow sign on the Visitor Centre fed that excitement; the reunion was really and for truly happening.

The Fort Langley Visitor Centre

I went up a day early for a couple reasons.

The first was to attend a meeting with the Friends of Fort Langley to discuss next year's big 175th anniversary celebration.  They had sent me e-mail about next year, asking if I'd extend a special invitation to the descendants of the First 25, and mentioning the Friday meeting.  I asked if I might attend.  They said yes.  The upshot of that meeting is that they want next year to be Special with a capital S -- after all, 175 years only comes round once -- and they want as many of us there as possible, both the First 25 and everyone who followed them.  The dates for this are the 3, 4, & 5 of August (Saturday, Sunday, and Monday).

The other reason was to pick up Laurel Katernick at the Langley City Greyhound.

Oh, and I wanted to get my computer setup so I wouldn't be driving around with it in my trunk.

So.  I arrived at the Fort about 9:30am.  Asked about a spot to put my computer and, with a smile, was escorted to our room.

Surprise Number One

Our room was in actuality the newly completed Exhibits Building, located between the Theatre and the Operations Building (see the Cyber Tour).  Later I found out that we were the first to use it.

When I walked in the door the first thing I saw was a 2 foot by 3 foot sign on an easel almost as tall as me that showed a pretty full voyaguer canoe, with "Welcome Descendants" above it and "Fort Langley N.H.S. Brigade Days 2001" underneath it -- hand drawn by one of the Fort Staff in coloured marking pen. 

(And yes, the picture on the right is a photograph of the actual sign. Thank you Al Kline.)

Next to that was a long table with potted flowering plants, a stack of flyers, and a small white-leather-bound guest book.

Photo by Al Kline
After hauling my computer in from the car, I took a moment to read one of the stack of flyers on the table next to the welcome sign.

There were two sheets of paper stapled together; one was the same paper that was available in the Visitor Centre, the other was-- Well, I guess the best way to do this is to show you the info as I read it.  I am still overwhelmed at how very well the way the entire weekend went and find myself at a loss for words to adequately describe what happened.  Those of you who were able to make it understand, I think, and I do hope those of you who couldn't make it will be able to make it next year.  For now they're calling it "Come Home to Langley in 2002", but more on that in a bit.

Back to the flyer

It was two sheets of letter-sized paper stapled together, the top one of which reads, and I quote:


Fort Langley National Historic Site of Canada
Descendants Reunion 2001 - Itinerary

Welcome to the Descendants Reunion.  We hope you will enjoy the time chatting, listening to guest speakers, and experiencing Brigade Days on the site where your ancestors once walked.

Please contact Nancy Hildebrand (Fort Langley NHS staff) or Lisa Peppan (Children of the Fort) if you have any problems.  The Exhibits Building will be available to you throughout the weekend.

Welcome Coffee and Tea Times:

Saturday and Sunday between 10 am and 12 noon, coffee and tea will be served in the Exhibits Building, the headquarters for the Descendants Reunion.  During these times, you can share your information and history and talk with resource people.

Sto:lo Welcome Ceremony - 1:00pm Saturday:

This ceremony is to welcome you and celebrate the First Nations side of your heritage.  The event will take place outside in front of the Big House.  You will meet behind the Big House at the back palisade door to be led in to the ceremony.

Chief Trader's Dinner -- after site closes, Saturday at about 6:00 pm:

This is the potluck dinner that the encampers staying on site hold traditionally every year in the fort.  This year, we are inviting you to join this celebration.  In order to join the meal, you must provide your own cutlery, dishes, and enough food for yourselves to share.  There is an IGA and a bakery in Fort Langley.  The next nearest food stores are in Walnut Grove on 88th Ave., including Save-On-Foods and IGA.  Jamie Morton, a fur trade historian, will be attending this meal and will be available to show you around the site with some of his insights.

Descendants Homecoming - Sunday at 1:00

At about 12:45, a piper will lead you and the public down to Marina Park to watch the Canoe Arrival - where costumed paddlers will arrive from Mission by the Fraser River.  You can stand together in the group, putting anyone in costume in front.  After the arrival, you can follow the piper back to the fort and up to the steps of the Big House.  There will be reserved chairs for you to sit on.  At this time, Bryan Jackson, the Superintendent of the site and Jamie Morton will give a public talk about the original Fort Langley employees.

Farewell - Sunday at about 4 pm

The piper will pipe you around the fort one last time as a formal farewell.  If you can stay for this, please meet at 4pm in the Exhibits Building.

I turn the page over and on the back side -- page 2 -- it read:

Special Thanks to the following Special Guests in attendance, who helped to make this a memorable weekend:


Keith Bennett - Abbotsford Genealogical Society

Dr. Penelope Christensen - Abbotsford Family history Centre

Gilbert Joe - Sto:lo Nation

Alice Marwood - Sto:lo Nation Genealogist

Morag Maclachlan - Vancouver Historical Society; Editor "The Fort Journals, 1827-30"

Sonny McHalsie - Sto:lo Nation, Cultural Advisor

Gary Mitchell - BC Provincial Archivist

Jamie Morton - Fur Trade Historian

Lois Penner - Abbotsford Genealogical Centre

Lisa Peppan - Children of the Fort

Brenda L. Smith - Family Tree Consultant, Wellspring Communications

Bruce Watson - Vancouver Community College

A special thank you to the Friends of the Fort for providing refreshments and making the Descendants Reunion possible.

Page 3 looks a whole lot like this (I had seen stacks of these in the Visitor Centre on my way in):

. . . every summer, the Hudson's Bay Company employees at Fort Langley looked forward to the weeks of merriment that accompanied the arrival of the fur brigades by river . . .

During Fort Langley's peak years, one of its main roles was that of interior depot for the inland Hudson's Bay Company trading posts.  In the winter supplies for the interior were shipped to Fort Langley from Fort Victoria.  Fort Langley staff spent the winter months dividing the bulk provisions into smaller units, filling oak kegs from large puncheons of flour, molasses, tobacco and liquor, and making oilcloths for wrapping bales of goods.  Once everything was ready, the supplies were shipped by bateaux to Fort Hope.  The brigade men and furs were brought down on the return journey.  As many as 60 men and officers arrived at Fort Langley in the summer, often with whole families accompanying the brigade.  The annual stay at Langley was an occasion for celebration by the labouring men of the interior.

During the four weeks the brigades were at Fort Langley, Chief Factor James Douglas came from Fort Victoria to renew employee' contracts, receive reports from the officers and discuss arrangements for the following year.  Once the business and social activities had ended and the brigades had left for their return journey to the interior, the work of preparing the furs for England began.  The last brigade left Fort Langley in the summer of 1858.  A few months later James Douglas read the proclamation creating the Crown Colony of British Columbia from the Big House at Fort Langley.

Fort Langley National Historic Site highlites the important role the brigades played in its history at the Brigade Days special event held on the August long weekend.  This year, descendants of the original Hudson's Bay Company employees are gathering for a reunion at Fort Langley.  To celebrate this event, we are having several guest speakers, a Sto:lo Welcome Ceremony, and the "Descendants Homecoming" - events which everyone is welcome to join.

And, finally, Page 4 says:


Every day: See costumed re-enactors of all ages living in the style of the 19th century fur trade

*Blacksmithing *Coopering demonstrations *Bake oven *Gold panning
*Contract signing *Concession *Woodworking
*Children's games and activities *Special presentations
*Genealogical society display tables

Saturday August 4th - 10 am-5 pm

12:00 pm-CLAIMS, COLONY, COUNTRY: Find out the events that led up to the creation of British Columbia.
Location: Upstairs in the Big House

1:00 pm-STO:LO WELCOME CEREMONY: Witness a traditional ceremony welcoming descendants of the original Fort Langley Hudson's Bay Company employees to the site.
Location: Within fort palisade.

2:00 pm-VOYAGEURS: Discover the role of the voyageurs in the fur trade.  Try your hand at carrying a fur bale!  A family activity.
Location: Meet outside the Storehouse.

3:00 pm-"ACCESSING THE B.C. ARCHIVES" by GARY MITCHELL, PROVINCIALS ARCHIVIST. This public talk will be of interest to everyone wishing to discover more about his or her family history.
Location: Theatre.

4:00 pm-FISHING FOR FOOD AND PROFIT: Fort Langley's salmon industry contributed valuable cargoes to the Company's commercial shipping.  Find out more about the role of the First Nations in the this important aspect of the fort's business.
Location: Theatre

Location: Flagpole.

Sunday August 5 - 10 am-5 pm

Location: East side of the Big House

12:45 pm-FOLLOW THE PIPER TO MARINA PARK FOR THE ARRIVAL OF THE FUR BRIGADES, and then join the procession back to the steps of the Big House to meet some of the descendants of the original Hudson's Bay Company families.

2:30 pm -"LIFE AT FORT LANGLEY" by JAMIE MORTON - Discover more about the people of the fur trade.
Location: Theatre

3:30 pm-TRAPPER'S RACE: Watch the excitement as the costumed re-enactors compete for prizes.
Location: In front of the Big House.


Monday August 6th - 10 am-5 pm

10:30 am and 2:30 pm-"CLIMBING YOUR FAMILY TREE" BY KEITH BENNETT OF THE ABBOTSFORD GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY: If you have ever wanted to find out more about your family's roots, be sure to catch Keith's talk.
Location: Theatre

11:30 am and 3:00 pm-FISHING FOR FOOD AND PROFIT: Fort Langley's salmon industry contributed valuable cargoes to the Company's commercial shipping.  Find out more about the role of the First Nations in this important aspect of the fort's business.
Location: Theatre

12:00 noon-CLAIMS, COLONY, COUNTRY: Find out the events that led up to the creation of British Columbia.  A B.C. Day event located at the site where BC was proclaimed a crown colony.
Location: Big House

Location: Theatre

2:00 pm-FASHION SHOW: A colourful look at 19th century fur trade costumes.
Location: Front Steps of Big House

Location: Flagpole

5:00 pm-The fort closes for an hour in preparation for the evening's free concert.  Time to eat or fetch food for an evening picnic.


For information on other Fort Festival performances during the weekend, phone the Fort Langley Tourist info centre at (604) 513 - 8787.

There were a lot of surprises.  I lost count.

Pictures were taken -- but not by me (it was the one thing I forgot) -- and as they come in they will get put up.
Photo by Al Kline. I would at this time ask a favor of those who also attended: if you could, please write a short bit about the reunion.  There were things I missed, and things that the details are a bit fuzzy mostly because I was just so totally overwhelmed (if we talked, and you think I've forgot, please remind me).

My thanks to everyone --

From left to right:
Lynn & Pat Piaggio, Laurel Katernick, Lisa Peppan, and Jill Edwards.
especially those of you who tied that good stout string to my leg to keep me from floating away.
Now, your mileage may vary but the Sto:lo Welcome Ceremony flat blew me away.  I have no words to describe this, just a soft smile and happy tears.  Chief Henry, Sonny McHalsie, Gilbert Joe-- thank you.

For those of you who couldn't make it this year, I wish I could say something more intelligent than a still slightly awestruck ". . . wow . . .", but [insert a SHRUG here].  If you can, please try to make it out next year.  I have a list of local lodging information that I would be happy to pass along.


There were two guest books: one for the Fort and one for us. Some signed both, some signed only one, some didn't sign either; the below list comes from our guest book (which was a half dozen loose sheets of paper stacked next to the Fort's small white book).  If you were there and don't see your name below, drop me a line and and I will be happy to add you to the list.

On Saturday August 4 we had, listed Employee: Descendant . . .

Amable ARQUETTE: Judy Bridges William Henry NEWTON through John Tod: Al Kline
Basile BROUSSEAU: Tricia Datené, Joanne Peterson, Gerry Evans, Ken Scott, Bruce Scott Étienne PÉPIN: Lisa Peppan
William CROMARTY: Jane Cromarty, C. Christie Wong, George K Wong, and George Wong Simon PLAMONDON: Micheal J Hubbs and wife Irene Miller-Hubbs
Magnus CROMARTY: Michelle Taylor, Lorraine Lindsay, Tiffany Lindsay Samuel ROBERTSON: Pearl Boyce
Narcisse FALARDEAU: Tannis Pond, Darlene Heal François Xavier VAUTRIN: Laurel Katernick, Lynn and Pat Piaggio, and Jill Edwards
James A. McMILLAN: Cathy and Jim Toogood Robert WAVICAREA: Muriel Robert, Lorelei Roberts, Ulani Roberts, Samantha Roberts, Lawrence and Jennifer Roberts, Zelda Jackson, Kelly McHalsie, April McHalsie, and Chandra McHalsie
Donald MANSON: Judy Bridges And Mable Nichols, related to George Perrier and Alice Davis who was raised by the Taylor family
And on Sunday August 5 (again listed Employee: Descendant) . . .
Basile BROUSSEAU: Shalayne Scott, Doug Scott, Hayley Scott, Marcie Scott, Roxanne Scott James McMILLAN: Karen Carignan, Ginny Wall
William CROMARTY and Salumi'a: Mrs. Rozina Buker, Laura Buker Donald MANSON: Lorraine Sandry
Narcisse FALARDEAU: Gillian McCombie, Gerald McCombie, Drina Allen, Gerri Williams James TAYLOR: Gillian McCombie, Gerald McCombie


Here's some of us on the front steps of the Big House.  This was taken in the afternoon on Sunday.
Off the top of my head, Mike Hubbs is in the dark blue shirt and black hat, third from right on the porch.  Jane Cromarty is the woman holding the white sign near the centre of the porch.  Judy Bridges is second from the left, in the basket-work hat and blue top.  The woman second from right in the white blouse is Lorraine Sandry.  I'm at the foot of the stairs. Photo by Barbara Smith.
If you can help me put names on the rest of the folks here, drop me some e-mail.

I'm not exactly sure what time it was but someone official looking with a clipboard asked me if I knew anyone who wanted to paddle a canoe, they'd had some unexpected last minute cancellations and needed bodies to man the canoes bringing in the Brigade.  I asked when.  He replied, "In 10 minutes," adding that the staging area was down by the IGA, a two minute walk away.

On Sunday, August 5th, had you followed the Piper to Marina Park, you'd have seen the following, looking east from Marina Park at about 1:00pm.

Photo by Barbara Smith The picture on the left was taken from the top of the boat launch at Marina Park, looking north and a little east, across Bedford Channel at McMillan Island.

The picture below is an enlargement taken from the picture on the left, showing that there are 6 canoes coming down along the south bank of McMillan Island.

I knew Mike Hubbs was one of the people already on the list to either ride or paddle, and since I hadn't seen anyone there yet who looked like canoe paddlers, I hiked up my skirt and ran down to the staging area down by the IGA.

I got to paddle.

Photo by Barbara Smith.
I expected to be sore afterwards and was not disappointed . . . but even if I have to hold the paddle in my teeth, I want to do it again next year.  Judy Bridges rode in "our" canoe as the Honoured Passenger.  If I remember correctly, "our" canoe is the second from the left in the below photo.
Photo by Barbara Smith.
Photo by Barbara Smith. The plan was for us to come down river along the north side of Bedford Channel, then in a sweeping arc, land at Marina Park, with the big canoe flying the HBC flag touching in first and the furthest downstream.  Unfortunately, we were in the smallest canoe and either we were lighter and thus faster moving, or we managed to find the swiftest portion of the channel -- or both -- but we landed just west of the big canoe.

If you know what/who you're looking for, you can just make us out through the foliage of the bush on the left side of the picture on the right.


The ceremony took place in front of the Big House. Here on the right is Sonny McHalsie -- wearing the beige blanket -- explaining to all in attendance about the ceremony. Photo by Joanne Peterson
Photo by Joanne Peterson On the left with the drum is Gilbert Joe.  To his left is Chief Betty Henry.

Come Home to Langley in 2002

Early in the morning of Wednesday 27th June 1827, twenty-five men slid their two boats into the waters of the Columbia River at Fort Vancouver on their way to "form an Establishment at the Entrance of Fraser' s River".

At noon, Monday, 30th July 1827, the men were "all busily employed in clearing ground for an Establishment", though they spent that night -- as well as the next 5 nights -- aboard ship.

The 2nd August saw them clearing ground for the Bastion, the 21st saw them digging a trench for the walls, by the 31st, the second Bastion was up and roofed.

And on Monday 8th October, clerk and journal keeper George Barnston writes in The Journal,

"We got comfortably housed in our new lodgings, and the men are now all occupied in rendering their own dwellings habitable, with the exception of a few hands who are kept constantly employed in rooting out & burning the Stumps within and without the Fort, which is a work of no small toil and trouble..."

Now, fast-forward 175 years.

Beginning 10:00 am on Saturday 3rd August 2002, the Fort Langley National Historic Site of Canada will be celebrating the summer of 1827 for three days.  As I understand it, the big spot light will be on the descendants of the First 25 -- with a special ceremony to recognized them (they were after all the guys who did the actual grunt work of building the first fort AND were the new kids on the block who had to learn to work with their neighbours) -- but the Fort was also emphatic about having as many of all The Descendants, of all the guys, as possible.  My hope is that the current World Uglies will have been settled to the point that all of us will be able to Come Home to Langley in 2002.

One thing I am working on for one of these years is a large sign for the procession from Marina Park to the Fort . . . maybe two -- out of cloth.

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This page created 24 August 2001
moved 28 July 2002

Updated 21 July 2013