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Ft. Langley Living Museum

dressing up and getting the scowls right

Last week we didn't have much to do with our history curriculum as we're finishing up the year and I'm tired of the kids' text book we've been reading from, frankly. Instead, I declared the afternoon a field trip and we were going to check out our local town's national historic site, Fort Langley

Wow! What a gem. I had no idea that this living museum would be as large, interesting, and completely child-friendly as it was. While we were there a pack of 5th graders (?) from a local French-immersion school was also there, and we loved getting to stand in at their presentations (all in French, of course!) as well as taking off on our own, with the audio wand as our guide through the 24 buildings, rooms, and sites of the first fur-trading location this far west from the Hudson Bay Company.

Lukka sitting at the letter writing desk

There were people milling about on this slow Monday afternoon, workers in period dress and able to answer any questions. I found out later that the entire site is okay to touch, unfortunately, scolding my kids unnecessarily for putting their hands on all the things. Next time I'll know better and let them touch away. That is the best kind of museum--the artifacts begged to be held and felt!

The top three pictures are from 'the big house', where a wealthy family lived, where important decisions were made, where gold was weighed, etc. The bottom picture is from the actual fur-trading building, full of various animal pelts, packaged cubes (you can see mid-line in the photo--they're huge and heavy!), and the beautiful wool blankets that the HBC was known for at the time, and still is!

Ani keeping warm by the fire in the family room

When purchasing tickets and selecting an audio wand, I chose one for the three of us, but realistically, it didn't work as great as I thought it would. The kids got frustrated that they couldn't hear very well, since it's really made for one person, and I felt if I would have purchased one for each, they would enjoyed the audio portion so much more, and learned a bit more about it rather than me trying to listen with one or both of them and recapping their "what? what did they say?"

The audio wand tells 24 stories, historical importance and individual's stories from the time they spent there. There were children who told of growing up in the fort, and men and women's journey's all the way from Hawaii! It told of the shipbuilder's family and why the specific river boat (one on site) was made to hold all the weight while still being able to ford the rapids. It was fascinating and very well done. 

Ani exploring various animal pelts

This is the kind of tour I like to go on, and that my kids love to explore. There haven't been as many opportunities for these types of field trips, simply because I don't know what's out there or available until someone tells me or I happen on it on my own. The Fort Langley Historical Site, though, is a gem and should be given a full afternoon. The cashier told us we'd need a bit over an hour, we were there for three and I was begging my kids to leave because I hadn't had lunch yet and was starving!

Living museums are great opportunities to instill a Love of Learning in your home, and if you give kids time to explore, and the ability to touch and receive information in an engaging way, you and they will retain so much more. Just don't forget to bring some snacks...

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