A Cyber Tour of Fort Langley
For those of you who can't make it out to Fort Langley, our webmistress would like to share some pictures she and her brother took on their June 2000 visit there. If you click on an image with a blue border, you will be taken to see a larger version of that picture; click the back button on your browser to return to this page.
Fort Langley is located east and a bit south of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. To get to Fort Langley from:
DO BE AWARE: there are two Langleys -- Fort Langley and Langley township. Fort Langley is on the south bank of the Fraser River; the Fraser River is the snaky squiggle running across the top of the middle map, below. Langley township is southwest from there at the other end of Glover Road, in the light area of the lower left hand corner of the map on the left. Glover Road is the line that runs at a 45 degree angle between the two. Once you get into Fort Langley, follow Glover Road to Mavis Avenue. Mavis is just before the bridge to MacMillan Island. Stay on Mavis and go straight up the slight hill. Do not turn onto River Road; see the map on the right, below.
The first thing you really see is the Visitor Centre (at left). The white area on the front of the building is a mural of Fort Langley as it was. The entrance is to the left of the mural. The fort itself sits behind the Visitor Centre, just about where the break in the trees is.
In the visitor center you will find a gift shop and an exhibit of glass cases and dioramas, showing artifacts, documents, and photographs -- like this one, on the left, of the ruins of Fort Langley when they were purchased by the Mavis Family, the same folks that Mavis Avenue was named after.
Once through the
Visitor Centre, there's a park-like gravel path that takes
you to the fort's main gate. The person you see in the
picture on the right, up under the trees, is my sister-in-law
On the left is what we saw as we walked through the gate. If I remember correctly, the fellow wearing black and red is one of the interpretive guides who portrays Mr. James Murray Yale, Clerk in Charge of Fort Langley from 1834 through 1844, and Chief Trader from 1844 through 1859. The building on the left is the cooperage. The white building is the Store House, and the one on the right is the Theater.
On the right is what you'll see if you look to your right a few steps the gate. The building on the left is the Operations building, built in 1997. The white building is the Big House, built in 1958, and it contains the front office, and two suites, one for the chief trader Mr. Yale, the other for the clerk Mr. Newton. In the centre is the gentlemen's mess hall. The building partially obscured by the big tree is the Servant's Quarters, also built in 1958. And the four post structure near the top of the hill is a pit saw frame. A log or plank was layed across the top and one guy sorta kinda straddled the wood and worked one end of the saw, while a second man stood down in the pit and worked the other end of the saw. Pit saws were tricky to work, not everyone could do it well, but, according to the Fort Langley Journals, there were two Kanakas --Hudson's Bay Company employees from the Hawaiian Islands-- named Peopeoh and Como who were exceptionally skilled at it.
On the left is the laundry area (that light colored peak over the wall behind it is the Visitor Centre). The laundry area is located up in what would be the right hand corner of the above picture, back between the Big House and the Servant's Quarters.
To the right is the Operations Building, which houses artifacts found at the site, photographs dating from circa 1860 through 1932, and the administrative offices for the Fort Langley staff. This was the building in which I confirmed my personal link to Fort Langley.
Here we have one of two plaques identifying the pictures that decorate the walls of the ground floor of the Operations Building. The second of these two plaques says the very same thing this one does, but in French. In the larger version of this picture -- which you can see by clicking on this one -- the words are readable.
On the large version, you'll see that next to each of the twenty picture descriptions are numbers in brackets. These numbers are catalog numbers from the British Columbia Archives and Record Service, from whom I do believe you could order copies of any of these pictures for a small fee. On the right, one of the display cases, showing assorted implements that were used around the fort.
Down the hill a bit, next to the Operations Building, is the Theater, built in 1999. Within you can see a short movie about Fort Langley. To the left of it, looking a bit like an old fashioned well, is a fur press. To make the furs easier to transport, they'd stack the furs up, and then insert wooden wedges that would move the press down, compressing the furs into nice tight 90 pound bundles.
The building next door -- shown on the left here -- is the Store House and the one building that is original. It was built by the men who were at Fort Langley in 1840. With the exception of this one building, all the rest are re-construction. Inside there's an exhibit of the assorted trade goods that went in and out of Fort Langley.
The picture to the right shows how this and the two preceding buildings are spaced. The fellow with the tripod and camera is my brother, Don Peppan. The new Exhibits Building now occupies the space between the Theatre and the Operations Building.
The Exhibits building was first used in August of 2001 by the descendants of the Hudson's Bay Company employees for their Home Coming 2001 reunion.
Which brings us to the Blacksmith Shop, built around 1970. The peaked roof behind the it is one of the bastions.
The Blacksmith Shop was of particular interest to my brother and I because our great great grandfather, Etienne Pépin, was one of Fort Langley's blacksmiths. According to Jamie Morton, Etinne made really great nails.
The picture to the right is Don setting up to take the picture on the left.
Then we round the corner to the barrel making shop-the cooperage-and the carpentry shop, built in 1993.
guide Merl, left, makes barrel stave shaving look easy. The
light coloured litter underneath him is the paper-thin wood
shavings he's pulling off the barrel-stave-under-construction
with a draw knife.
If you climb the stairs of the first bastion, you can get a peek-a-boo view of the church on McMillan Island from the catwalk atop the wall directly behind the cooperage. McMillan Island is home to the Kwantlen, First Nations people who developed an early working relation with the men of Fort Langley. Many of the men's wives were Kwantlen, including our Great Great Grandmother Isabelle.
And to the immediate right of the cooperage is a bateaux. What's a "bateaux" . . . ? Think about the biggest rowboat you can imagine, and then make it big enough to carry upwards of a ton of merchandise and men. I stand 4 foot 11 inches tall and could barely see over the sides standing on tip-toe. This one is painted brick red, and can be seen in the below picture of my brother and his camera equipment, with the front gate behind him. Yeah, yeah, I know. [insert a lopsided grin here] I can say this because I know it's there, but it is easier to see in the larger version. "Bateaux" is pronounced "baa (like the sound a sheep makes) -TOE (like the little flappy things at the opposite end of your foot from the heel)".
Now, two posts to the right of the gate, is a Native built canoe. If I remember correctly, whereas the bateaux is of fairly new construction, the canoe is like the Store House -- it's old and original. Though I don't know this particular canoe's history, I do know that like most other west canoes, it was made from a single log, which was hollowed out until the walls were of the proper thinness, then filled with water and then hot rocks. The hot-rock-heated water softened the wood and slats of wood were placed at the correct intervals to stretch the sides out. This one appears to have had a nose piece added on, as was done by some coastal canoe builders. I bet if this canoe and the Store House could talk, we'd hear some stories, by Gar, we would. Since the above pictures were taken, the canoe has been moved inside for conservation purposes.
The last stop in our tour is a building we sort of saw on the way in -- Servant's Quarters -- "servant" meaning the blue-collar-type, did-a-little-of-everything Hudson Bay Company employee.
Here interpretive guide Erin talks about the basic Servant's Quarter's set up. This one room was home for a servant, his wife, and any children they had. Cramped quarters for sure, but it was snug and dry.
When you come to visit, be sure to call or email ahead for the most recent hours and admission fees.
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created 6 Sept 2000
and was moved
28 July 2002
Updated 21 Jul 2013
Photo reprints available upon request, please.
All that we ask is that you ask.
Sepia tone photos by Donald C PeppanColour photos by Lisa M Peppan
Don and Lisa Peppan by Mr and Mrs Jack L. Peppan