Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Frosty & Fiery In Fort Langley

FORT LANGLEY IS a small picturesque community in British Columbia along the southwest portion of the Fraser River that was once a hubbub of activity. Over centuries it has transformed into a quiet village with quaint shops and a museum at its heart where tourists gather. Although I see it differently now, the town seemed unexciting when I lived there for awhile as a young girl.

We traveled to Fort Langley and its historic cemetery a few days ago to pay respect to deceased family members. My mother died from a sudden heart attack decades ago and was laid to rest at the foot of a dogwood tree. My family was allowed to transplant the young tree from my mother's backyard in Langley to the site. Two of my sisters were also buried there more recently. I brought some holly sprigs for each and placed them on the frozen ground.

Even with bare branches, the grown dogwood tree gives hope. It is mossy covered but alive. Its seasonal changes year after year provide a mystifying glimpse into the cycle of life and renewal.

We did not go into the museum located a few blocks away. But we found an interesting scene depicting pioneer life on the outer wall of an entrance to the old fort buildings.

There was part of a steamship on the grounds nearby. Before there were BC Ferries there was a paddle boat called the Beaver that sailed from Vancouver Island to the mainland.

A plaque beyond the icy rope explained that the historic vessel performed several important tasks in the mid 1800s when the Hudson Bay Company traded in the area and when BC was a British Colony.

Thoughts of the past merged with the present. On our way home frosty wires sagged from pole to pole glistening wintry white. They reminded me of summer spider webs dangling in the sunlight.

POSTSCRIPT, Jan. 5: I was shocked to learn last night that while I was preparing this post yesterday morning, a fire in Fort Langley was raging. It completely destroyed one of the town’s “newer” landmarks, a 70-year old grocery store that became part of the IGA store chain. This is where I once shopped for groceries and in later years bought flowers for the gravesite where my mom is buried. It’s as if I was meant to see the building one last time ... just two days before it was gone forever.


  1. Hi -- So nice that you were able to go out to Fort Langley to "visit" your mother and sisters and that beautiful tree. It's wonderful that you were allowed to plant the tree from your mom's yard, and watch it grow all these years in memory of her.
    Luv, K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  2. That looks like a nice place, your photos are certainly excellent.

  3. Dreadful about the fire. So wonderful to read that the IGA in Walnut Grove will deliver food to elderly Fort Langley residents who have lost their only supermarket.
    The first fire I remember in Fort Langley was when the old Fort Hotel burned down. Must have been the late 60s, maybe early 70s. It was the oldest hotel in BC. Can't find it on Google.
    But I seem to recall there was a problem with fire at the fort in the 1800s. Yes, found that one on Google. 1840.
    This one will make a big difference to a lot of lives, though. Very sad. Shopping in Walnut Grove is not at all easy.
    -- K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  4. You mother has got a very peaceful and nice resting place under this beautiful tree. It will flower for her in spring. As adults we look with different eyes at the place we have grown up.

  5. That is shocking about the fire, Penelope, and as you say, it doesn't seem coincidental that it was happening at the very time you were writing about Fort Langley. I'm glad you did see the store one more time.

    The first two ethereal photographs, the drawing (?) of a scene from long ago, and the spider web lines all have a lovely sense of mystical whimsey. Buried under a tree, with a river flowing nearby, is my idea of the perfect place for the spirit to rest. (My parents are buried in a similar setting, in a town called Riverfield.)


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