Culture is discussed a lot these days. The culture of a business, various ethnic groups’ cultures, and the arts and culture activities within a community.
The term may seem like something of a buzzword, but culture has been celebrated for a long time – even if it wasn’t referred to as such.
At the Fort Langley National Historic Site, celebrating the culture of the past meshes with the future on Jan. 21 and 22 during the Vive les Voyageurs Winter Festival and admission is free as part of the 150th anniversary of Canada’s confederation.
Promotion officer with the fort, Nancy Hildebrand, noted the festival – now in its eighth year – was discussed for many years before the first celebration in 2010.
“We wanted to highlight a little-known aspect of the history of Fort Langley: the French-Canadian workers who contributed so much to the life and work of the fort,” she said.
The fort is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday so that visitors can experience the contributions French-Canadian culture made to the region established by the Hudson’s Bay Company.
Along with a guided introductory tour of the fort at 10:30 a.m., visitors can experience Metis dancing at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., musical performances at 12:30 and 2:30 p.m., barrel making at 2 p.m., all-day maple taffy making, hands-on activities and a wide range of other demonstrations like beadwork and spoon-and-jig workshops.
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On Saturday at 1 p.m. Harold Sawatzky will host a special Canada 150 ice sculpture demonstration while Parka, the Parks Canada mascot spends time with some of the younger guests. This will be the fort’s own Canada 150 kick-off.
“Whether you only know one word of French or you’re fluent, you will have a fantastic time at this event,” Hildebrand said. “The atmosphere is warm, fun, tasty and will give you a real feel for Canada’s early days in the region.”
French-Canadian dishes will also be available for purchase throughout the day at lelem’ at the Fort Café including poutine, tourtiere and other delicious cultural dishes.
Hildebrand is especially pleased the event is free of charge to guests this year.
“In addition to all of the great culture, food and fun we offer every year at the Vive les Voyageurs Festival, in 2017 we have the unique opportunity to offer the event free of charge,” she noted. “The government [of Canada] is very pleased to offer free admission for all visitors to national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas operated by Parks Canada in 2017 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation.”
Kids may already be aware of the event with two weeks of Vive les Voyageurs programming offered in schools to French Immersion and Francophone school students.
Anyone curious about what it was like to live in the fort in the early beginnings of the country is likely to enjoy this weekend’s events at the Fort Langley National Historic Site.