Fort Langley was the source of all of our earliest non-native settlers. From the Kanakas who rode the Hudson’s Bay Company ships seeking adventure to the Royal Engineers who were mustering out for a private life, all comers to the Fort could look across the river to the forests and mountains of the north side.
To settlers from the impoverished or land-poor parts of Europe, it was an amazing sight to see all that wild, unclaimed land. Many of our earliest settlers were young Scots from the Orkney Islands & always land-poor when it came to agricultural land. The Hudson’s Bay ships stopped at the Orkney’s to load up on fresh water before making the trip across the Atlantic. Young men with little prospect for advancement could take passage on these ships on the promise to work off the cost of that passage at one of the Hudson’s Bay forts.
The very earliest arrivals on the north bank maintained their ties to Fort Langley for supplies and services, including churches and burial. For most of them, it had been their first home in this region and there were few services available on the north side of the river until the 1880’s.