On Sunday, visitors to Fort Langley took a step back in time to see the province’s birth.
Staff and volunteers at the Fort Langley National Historic Site re-enacted the proclamation that created British Columbia as a colony of Great Britain on Nov. 19, in 1858.
The weather was historically accurate, with heavy rain expected.
“This area was a disputed territory for a long period of time,” said Joe Daniels, a Fort heritage interpreter playing Sir James Douglas, B.C.’s first governor.
The colony was proclaimed largely to assert that what would become B.C. was British territory, as an influx of mostly American miners arrived for the Fraser River gold rush.
WATCH: “James Douglas” on Sir James Douglas
Local residents with an interest in history took on several roles, including Michael Martin and Graham MacDonell, who have both been Canadian military engineers in real life, and Royal Engineers for Saturday’s recreation. Martin is still in the Canadian Reserves.
“He’s current and I’m vintage,” joked MacDonell.
“We consider the Royal Engineers to be the parent unit of the engineers here in B.C.,” said Martin.
Their fellow sapper was played by Daniel Holmberg, a staffer at the Fort.
“It’s absolutely wonderful,” said Holmberg. “I love the history. This is my favourite way to learn.”
The red jacketed Royal Engineers helped visitors to the Fort get dressed up in their own military coats for reenactments and readings of the proclamation.
Although Sunday’s event was planned for outdoors, the original proclamation was moved inside. The reason? Bad weather.