Holidays in the 1800s: Revisiting Fort Langley’s Christmas traditions

A Fort Langley Christmas runs on December 22, 23, 27-30. Admission is free as part of Canada 150.

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Traditionally, Christmas festivities at Fort Langley during the mid-1800s were simple. Workers received the day off for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and a ration of rum. On Christmas Day, the Chief Trader of the fort hosted a social event, dance, and feast. New Year’s was celebrated in Fort Langley with a day off work, extra provisions, a rum ration and dancing.

In 1924, Jason Allard shared his recollections of Fort Langley’s holiday traditions in the Daily Province: “On Christmas morning all the employees of the fort, dressed in their very best, marched in a body up to Mr. Yale’s quarters,  it was called the big hall. Mr. Yale usually received them kindly and held a sort of smoker for a couple of hours in which the decanter was passed around freely… In the afternoon of Christmas Day the men’s wives were invited to the big hall where they were given two or three “shots” of wine after which their baskets were filled with cookies, cranberries and blueberry jam and ships biscuits.”

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Today, we share the history of this special place, while giving visitors a chance to celebrate the holidays with A Fort Langley Christmas, which runs at the National Historic Site on December 22, 23, 27-30.

Hear Kwantlen stories, taste a chestnut roasted over the fire, and make a beautiful cedar ornament. Take a guided tour or see what Fort Langley’s interpreters have baked up in the outdoor oven. Admire the giant outdoor Christmas tree and take family photos at various scenic spots on site. lelem’ at the fort café will offer hot drinks, baked goods, tourtière and cookie decorating.

As a season finale to the free admission Parks Canada has offered in 2017, mission to “A Fort Langley Christmas” is FREE. The event takes place December 22, 23, 27-30th.

For more information, visit Fort Langley NHS online HERE.