August 22, 1998
Christine Nordhagen The next morning Janet and Claus picked us up after lunch and we went to Langley. We had been invited to Janet's sister Jane and her (Jane's) husband Terry. The Nichols family family lived in Langley, a suburb to Vancouver approx. 50 kilometres south of the city. On the way we picked up Aunt Ruth, who is a sister to Elvin, Janets father. She turned out to be an impressing lady of 82 years - and still capable of speaking Norwegian. The day before Aunt Ruth had come from Grande Prairie by plane to visit her sun, William, who lives in Vancouver. William had been invited to Langley too, and had been allowed to bring a date. However William would turn up later on his bike. Driving to Langley Aunt Ruth told about Christine Nordhagen, who was gold medalist at the 1994, 1996 & 1997 Women's World Wrestling Championships in her weight class and the winner of six consecutive Canadian Senior Championships. Quite impressing women, they have in the Nordhagen family.

Arriving at Langley
Arriving at Langley we had a warm welcome of Jane and Terry - not to forget the boss of the family: the 17 yrs old poodle Sparkey,Sparkey who is in a surprisingly good shape (Sparkey - not Terry!). Aunt Ruth got out of the car as the last person, surprising everybody in the family. They lived in a wonderful house. Like most houses in Canada it was made of wood. We said hello to the family, who besides Jane and Terry comprises their sons Jason (studying crimonology?) and Ross (considering to study information technology). Fine, polite and kind young men. Soon we left the family to visit Fort Langley for a few hours.

Before going to the fort - the birthplace of British Columbia - we had coffee in the town. We visited a couriosity shop, where Janet and Claus had seen a signed drawing of the Danisk King Kristian on horseback, crossing the Danish - German border in 1920. This year the Germans returned some old Danish land, which they had occupied more than fifty years earlier. Unfortunately the drawing turned out to depict the king's grandfather. But anyway it was quite an experience. And we could have used another hour in the shop - but maybe next time.

History of Fort Langley
On a hilltop overlooking a channel of the Fraser River lies a wooden palisaded fort of mid-nineteenth century design, which affected the course of Canadian history and gave birth to the province of British Columbia.

As the first permanent point of contact between European traders and the Native peoples of the area, it soon became a significant centre of cultural interaction and trade: exporting furs, salmon, cranberries, and agricultural products to domestic and overseas markets and importing manufactured goods from Britain and elsewhere.

In 1858, the discovery of gold initiated a rush of some 30,000 miners up the Fraser River. Most of them came from the gold fields of California. Fearing an American takeover, the British Government suspended the commercial monopoly of the Hudson's Bay Company and declared direct imperial control over the territory. The Crown Colony of British Columbia was proclaimed by Governor James Douglas in the name of Queen Victoria on November 19, 1858.

The ceremony took place on the upper floor of the "Big House" at Fort Langley, as a tribute to the hard-working and enterprising people. Hence, the site is known as the "Birthplace of B.C.". In 1871 British Columbia entered Confederation, extending the new Dominion of Canada from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

After 1858 the fort fell slowly decayed. In 1886 a new Hudson's Bay Company saleshop was constructed in the nearby village, and Fort Langley ceased operations as a company post. In 1923 the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada declared Fort Langley to be of national historic importance. The process of restoration was begun for celebration of the centennial of the Colony of British Columbia in 1958.

Today much has changed, but the fort still stands, partially reconstructed since 1958 around the surviving storehouse. The farm developed so long ago remains under cultivation. Across the river, where The Kwantlen tribe built their village shortly after the company built its fort. On the day, we were there, a pow wow was taking place, but we did not have to time to pay a visit.

Fort Langley
Fort Langley As mentioned Fort Langley was the birthplace of British Columbia and played an important role in the fur trade activities of the Hudson's Bay Company west of the Rockies. Outside the fort is a large building offering various information of the site. Besides there is a gift shop. Fort Langley was originally built in 1827, four kilometres downstream. It was relocated to its present site in 1839 and rebuilt following a disastrous fire in 1840. It closed its operations in 1886. The fort now houses a collection of 3,500 objects from the area. Fort Langley was declared a site of national historic significance in 1923. We were so lucky to show up, just as a series of small plays, describing various events in earlier times, started. The actors, who were non-paid (I asked one) volounteers, were dressed in costumes of that time.

Of sixteen original buildings situated within the palisade, only the storehouse dating from ca. 1840 remains. The others were destroyed by time. Six buildings and the palisade have been constructed in the past few decades to help tell the story of Fort Langley.

Servants' Quarters Servant's quarters were built for the 1958 centennial of British Columbia. Inside the quarter a young girl explained about everyday life in the 19th century. Here lived the company's workmen together with their native wifes and their children. There lived about 100 people on the fort. Only 1 leading officer had a white wife. Many of the workers were Hawaiian - probably living almost like slaves, and many of them did not survive forlong. There were also many French-Canadian and Scottish workers employed at Fort Langley. The fact, that all the workers married native women, is probably the reason, why the fort was never attacked by the indians. In fact they came along very well.

Administration Building The original Big House (administration building) was the place, where James Douglas was sworn in as the first Governor of the new Crown Colony of British Columbia. This reconstruction was also built for the 1958 centennial. The house is quite impressive with 2 stores. Besides James Douglas lived the Yale family in the building. Every night the 2 men met for dinner, discussing problems of the fort. On the terrasse the proclamation from British Parliament, that made British Columbia a British colony. We witnessed Union Jack go to top.

Fur trading This store house building is the only original structure at the fort. It was built around 1840, after the fire. The three storehouses held goods awaiting shipment to foreign markets, transport to inland posts and for use at the fort. Actual trading was carried out in a trade shop, that straddled the north palisade. The traders at Fort Langley had access to a large variety of resources including beaver, black bear, fox, and racoon. Salmon was both a major food source and component of trade for both Fort Langley and the inland posts. The bulk of the salmon runs would have occurred during the fall, the size of the runs varying considerably from year to year. These salmon runs can still be witnessed today and salmon remains a local favourite both fresh and smoked. Later the same day we should benefit from that fact.

Blacksmith The fort blacksmiths made axes and other goods for trade as well as hardware for the fort itself. Metal tools were highly valued by native customers. During the gold rush, the blacksmiths were busy making pickaxes for sale to the prospectors.

Aunt Ruth and Claus This building is located south of the original cooperage building. It was constructed in 1993. It was demonstrated to us, how barrels were made. They used barrels for a lot of different purposes: transport and storage of goods like salmon and cranberries, in the housekeeping, fx. for cooking.

Besides buildings there was a kitchen garden in the fort. And an outdoor bake oven. We were all thrilled to expierence the past of Canada and get an impression of, how it all started. Finally all the actors lined up for a foto session. Would you honestly believe, that aunt Ruth is more than 60 years old?

Bastions The bastions served as lookouts and temporary accommodation for visiting servants. Access to the gallery is possible from the second story. From the bastions we could overlook the river and se the native reservate on the other side.

Dinner at the Nichols
The Nichols residence - click for larger foto Then we returned to the Nichols home. William called and told, that he had problems with his motor bike, and the 2 sons of the house went to pick him up. It seemed like every person in the household his/her own car. In Denmark you pay 225 percent tax, when you buy a car. And approx. 1˝ dollar for 1 liter fuel. Maybe this is part of the explanation. When William showed up, we experienced a Canadian protocol, which is different from the Danish one. A person, who joins a group of people, has to be introduced by somebode. William - almost in despair - exclaimed: "Won't somebody please introduce me?!

Tekande fra Overwaitea Terry told us, that he was working for "Save on foods", a retail chain with more than 700 stores in B.C. and Alberta. The company started as a grocery in 1915 by an entrepreneur named Robert C. Kidd´. He developed several innovative merchandising techniques to attract customers to his store. His most famous 'trick' was adding an extra two ounces to each pound of his Indian and Ceylon-blended teas. The store was soon known as the "overweight tea" store. When he opened his second store, Kidd decided to call it "Overwaitea". In 1968, the company directors sold controlling interest in Overwaitea to Jim Pattison, a successful Vancouver-based business man. The sales is approx. 5 billion dollars a year. When I asked Terry, if his company were planning to expand eastwards, he ansvared, that "Save on foods" was only a minor chain in Canada! But probably larger than the biggest chains in Denmark.

Have a great vacacion While we had visited Fort Langley, Terry had been busy barbecuing a salmon. No, not a salmon, but the salmon. None of us had never seen a salmon this huge. Almost 18 pounds - without head and tail. I wonder if someone will believe me, when I return to Denmark. We get a lot of salmon in Denmark from Canada, but these usually don't weigh more than a couple of pounds. Probably made in salmon farms. Unfortunately we did not get a foto of the monster. But we did et a foto of the cake, that Jane and Janet had made for us.

My cousin Enis- click for larger foto At 4 o'clock Enis og Jim Bare arrived - directly from the golf course. Enis is my cousin, and we had not seen each other since she and her sister Kirsten and her parents Frida and Ove emigrated to Canada in 1957. 41 years ago. For the last 10 years we have been keeping in touch. It was quite an experience to meet after so many years. The Nichols had been generous enough to invite these strange people to their home. I very much appreciate that! It turned out, that both the Nichols and the Bares were passionate golfers. Jim told, that he and Enis had the ambition to play on every golf course in B.C. And as far as I remember, they had a score of more than 50 percent. I remember having spoken once to Jim on the telephone. It was about X-mas time and I asked Jim this silly question: "How is the weather in B.C.?" - and Jim, who is a walking encyclopedia, gave me a lecture of the size of B.C. It is so vast, that there is no such thing as "the weather in B.C", since you often have 10 centigrades in the south and -40 centigrades in the north. Enis and Jimmy invited us to dinner the following Saturday.

We told, that we would go to Jasper National Park the following morning. And there were no ends to the warnings, that we got. I think, that the boys were trying to 'mob' Claus. The claimed, that it would take at least 3 hours just to get to Hope. Nevertheless we had a great evening with some wonderful people, and we were hoping to get the opportunity to meet with the Nichols at least once more before going back to Denmark.