Fort Langley was a milestone in the development of British Columbia. Since we live in this beautiful historic area, we wanted to learn and subsequently teach how Fort Langley came to be.
Fur Trade Beginnings
Fort Langley was first built in 1827. Fort Langley was mainly used as a fur trading post for the Hudson’s Bay Company. Located along the Fraser River, it once served as a trade route for the British Empire and a large aboriginal settlement. To keep strong ties with the aboriginals in the region, the Hudson’s Bay Company heavily encouraged their workers to marry to Aboriginal women. Through this, HBC was able to create a trade route that had access to aboriginal trade routes as well. This helped HBC spread its empire and grow even bigger. In return, HBC provided aboriginals with European resources for sale at the fort.
More Than Just Fur
Although HBC was just focused on continuing their fur empire, the people of Kwantlen had other business ideas. Chief Whattlekainum pressured the company to accept trades of salmon and cranberries. Since these new products had expiry dates, HBC had a hard time figuring out how to keep them fresh when shipping them. Eventually, they came up with the idea of storing the food in wooden barrels. With this new revolutionary way of exporting goods, the Fort now had precedence over American trade routes. Eventually, the US and Canada defined where their borderline would be. With borders set, Fort Langley was set in the perfect area between Britain and the interior of Canada. Fort Langley became an integral part of the fur trade.
In 1858, glittery metal was discovered on the shores of the Fraser River. Fort Langley went from a trading post to the centre of a gold rush for over 30,000 miners. Fearing that America may try to take over the land as their own, the colony was established by Britain as British Columbia. Eight years later, British Columbia merged with Vancouver Island and made Victoria the capital. In 1871, British Columbia was officially a province of Canada.
As British Columbia grew, Fort Langley began to decline. In 1923, Fort Langley was officially stated as a historic site. With that, historic buildings started being added to preserve the heritage of Fort Langley. You may know well today, but Fort Langley continues its tradition of Canadian business and heritage!
And that is the entire history of Fort Langley. If you have your own unique story about this wonderful heritage town, tell us in the comments below or tell us on our social media! We hope you enjoyed today’s history lesson!