A night soaking in the historic past of British Columbia? Count me in!
On a sunny Sunday in May I hopped into my Modo car. The plan: explore the farms and wineries of Langley before arriving at Fort Langley National Historic Site for a night in a unique accommodation.
Centuries ago, the Hudson’s Bay Company constructed the Fort Langley trading post along British Columbia’s Fraser River. The First Nations people had been using the river’s natural highway for millennia before European contact, shipping goods to the coast, and from there as far south as California and as far north as Alaska, so the Langley area was already a well-established transport hub.
Armed with only my sleeping bag, pillow, toiletries, clothing and food, I was ready for the evening. I was finally going to be spending a night in an oTENTik! What’s an oTENTik? Think of it as the beautiful love-child of a cabin and tent, with the best features of both. It’s a semi-permanent wood-frame structure with a canvas covering. Inside you find all the comforts of home, including heating, thick mattresses, power outlets, a dining room table and chairs, dishes and utensils, a mini fridge, a kettle, a fan and wi-fi. This cozy home requires zero setup, a welcome feature at the end of a long day. For a woman like me, who loves even regular camping in a conventional tent, it was fantastically luxurious. For those don’t enjoy or aren’t comfortable with tent camping, it would be a perfect solution, and perhaps even a stepping stone to tents. You get the fresh air and wonderful rest of being outside, without the hassle of set-up or concern about leaky roofs and floors.
On arrival, I was greeted by the lovely staff at Fort Langley. After check-in, I had the keys to my home for the night, so I could drop off my luggage securely. I was given a tour and then had the freedom to explore the site on my own. I strolled along the gravel path from my tent, then climbed inside the bastions gallery and walked along the wooden planks to view the Fraser River, imagining tall ships arriving at the Fort, disgorging tons of European-made trade goods, then departing with the fat bellies of their holds crammed full of fur pelts; it transported me back to my province’s early post-contact history. As I took in the view, I could hear the rhythmic clang of metal on metal. I followed the sound to the fort’s blacksmith, where I watched him bend steel as he explained the iron tools that were made here for trade or for use at Fort Langley and other HBC posts.
With so much to explore and the sun starting to fall, I made my way to the storehouse, where I learned more about the fur trade and the items that were desired for trade such as salmon pickling. The storehouse was built in the 1840s. It’s is the only remaining original building at Fort Langley and is believed to be the oldest post-European contact building in British Columbia. There is much lot to explore in Fort Langley; you’ll need to dedicate at least a few hours to take it all. Don’t shopantibioticsonline.com miss a visit to the Big House, where you can read the 1858 Proclamation of BC.
As all the guests left and the staff packed up, I was the only one left in the Fort. I grilled up a delicious dinner on one of the provided BBQs. Later, my oTENTik camp hosts, who stay just outside the Fort, came by to check in and light a campfire. As long as there are no fire bans (check out this website to find out), you can enjoy a campfire in the group fire pit along with other guests. Since I was the only overnight guest this early in the season, I sat with my hosts, enjoying chips and dip and sharing stories. Parks Canada has chosen awesome, warm and friendly hosts, who will give you your space and privacy if you prefer, or provide entertaining companionship if you’re feeling social. It was fascinating to by the fire and hear about their travel adventures and what paths in life brought them to this job. I had no any issues during my stay, but the host will help with any questions or concerns you have, and are reachable by phone anytime during the night. It’s like camping with concierge service on call!
With the sun setting and the fire dying down, it was time for them to head off. I was tempted to throw on more wood and keep the fire going, but sleep was calling my name as the day’s adventures started to catch up with me. With the fire out, I ended back to my tent to set up for the night. With the option of either of two queen-size beds or a double bunk above me, I settled on the double. I set the heat on low, then climbed into my sleeping bag. Just then, rain began to fall. It was unexpected, but the light drumming on the secure canvas roof was a welcome sound, emphasizing the coziness and security of my home for the night.
All was quiet as I woke up the next morning and opened my door, with the sun lifting lazily above the walls. I took a leisurely last walk around the Fort before loading my luggage back in my Mondo and dropping off my keys.
Getting to Fort Langley
You can access Fort Langley National Historic Site by transit, vehicle and bike.
If you are coming from Downtown Vancouver, it takes just under two hours to take a mixture of trains and buses. Go to Translink website for detailed instructions.
By car, Fort Langley is only 48 kms away from downtown. Because I wanted the freedom to explore the countryside and greater ease in transporting my overnight gear, I booked a car from Modo, a Vancouver car sharing co-op. I’ve been a member and fan of theirs since 2010. I love not having to own a car while having access to a fleet of 500 vehicles. Insurance, gas and maintenance are included Modo’s fees, keeping the cost very reasonable and much less than I would spend to own a private car. That leaves me more money for trips like the one to Fort Langley. To learn more about Modo or sign up, check them out here.