The Fort Langley Storehouse: BC’s Oldest Surviving European Structure

In a way, today’s post is an extension of the one from Tuesday on the National Historic Site of Fort Langley.  While the site today is actually located on different land from its historical site and the majority of the buildings are newer constructions then those built at the fort’s inception in 1827 there is one building there that deserves special attention.

The Fort Langley Storehouse. Image courtesy of: www.fortlangley.ca

The Fort Langley Storehouse. Image courtesy of: http://www.fortlangley.ca

Believed to be the oldest building constructed by Europeans still standing in the province today, the storehouse of Fort Langley has obtained a far higher historical value than its original function would have suggested. While the building does not date as far back as the origin of Fort Langley itself it is still a remarkably long lived structure seeing as how it is a wooden construction located in the damp, rainy region of the Pacific Northwest Coast.

Within the initial construction of Fort Langley, the location within the compound where this building was to be constructed was originally the site of a blacksmith’s shop.  However, and this is entirely legend with no hard facts to back it up, it is claimed that sometime in the early 1840’s an unnamed individual decided that this was an excellent place to cook their dinner.  It appears that something went wrong and pretty much the entire post was burnt to the ground.  I think its probably safe to assume that the reaction to this was something along the lines of an 1800’s Gordon Ramsay style rant.

The Storehouse in 1931; image from Wikipedia

The Storehouse in 1931; image from Wikipedia

After this disaster, one of the first buildings to be built was a storehouse which was required for the storage of goods that the HBC employees used in their trading with the local First Nations and it is this building that was the only one to survive the demise of the fort itself as an active trading post.

In the roughly 170 years between its construction and today, the building has remained almost entirely unchanged although it has undergone two relatively minor adjustments; at some point in those years the storehouse was painted white and electricity was added to the building in 1967.  Other than those appearance-based changes, the building has seen a few status changes in the past 90 years:

  • In 1923 the building was declared to be of national historic importance
  • It was opened as a museum in 1931
  • Finally in 1955 the compound of Fort Langley as a whole was named a National historic Site
A more modern photo, taken after the building was painted white. Image from www.historicplaces.ca

A more modern photo, taken after the building was painted white. Image from http://www.historicplaces.ca

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s