Students watch blacksmith demonstration at Fort Langley

Communities in the fur trade (primary students)

After reading “Helen’s Surprise”—the story of a family who lived at Fort Langley along the Fraser River in the 1800s—your class will receive a letter from Helen inviting you to come explore where the story took place. Although Helen herself won’t be there, facilitators dressed in period costume will help you discover how cultures change over time through a series of mini-adventures: trying on costumes, feeling furs, watching the blacksmith at work, learning about native plants, rolling barrels, and panning for gold. Back at school, write a letter back to Helen about your experience. Your class will receive another letter with answers to your questions.

Learning objectives

  • Identify cultural similarities and differences
  • Identify changes that can occur in communities over time

Teacher information

  • Book now!
  • View cost on fee page
  • Capacity: Up to 90 students
  • Adult chaperones: 1 adult per 6 primary students, additional adults $6.60
  • Offered: September to June, morning (10:00 am – 12:00 am) or afternoon (12:30 pm – 2:30 pm)
  • Language: Available in English or French (Please note: the days with the highest capacity for French programs are Tuesdays and Wednesdays).
  • Please ensure that all schools have a fair chance to participate in our programs: give us at least two weeks' notice of any cancellations, so that we may offer the time slot to another class.
How the program works
  • Your group will be divided in teams of 15 students, called “brigades,” led by a parent volunteer or teacher.
  • A Parks Canada interpreter will give an introduction to the students, then will send brigades off on missions using “Challenge Cards". 
  • After completing the hands-on challenge, brigades report back to the Parks Canada interpreter to give their answers. Then they receive their next challenge.
Preparing for your visit
  • Divide your student list into brigade groups of approximately 15 students. Assign parent helpers to each group.
  • Programs run rain or shine, with both indoor and outdoor activities: dress for the weather. In June, insect repellent may be needed.
  • To assist us in delivering the best experience for your students, encourage adult leaders to model active listening, to silence cell phones, and take necessary phone calls or conversations with other parents outside while programs are in progress.
Classroom resources
  • Read Helen's surprise (PDF, 1.97 MB) and use the questions on the last page to prepare your class.
  • Read the Letter from Helen (PDF, 1.42 MB) before the field trip.
When you arrive
  • Check in 15 minutes prior to your scheduled program time.
  • While students have a snack outside the Visitor Centre, bring your brigade leaders inside for orientation.
  • Pay for your fieldtrip using credit card or school cheque, written out to the Receiver General for Canada.
  • Adult chaperones are required at all times while exploring the fort, visitor centre and gift shop.
  • Washrooms are located in the Visitor’s Centre and lelƏm’ at the fort Café.
Lunch facilities
  • Outdoor picnic areas and shelters are available for lunch.
  • Located inside the fort, leləm’ at the Fort Café is a great place for adults to purchase coffee, cold drinks, freshly baked goods or lunch. To arrange group catering, please arrange in advance by contacting Lauren at
After the field trip
  • Please send us your feedback (PDF - 74 KB) on the field trip.
  • With your class, write a letter back to Helen about your experience. Your class will receive another letter with answers to your questions. Email your letter or mail it to: Fort Langley National Historic Site, PO Box 129, Fort Langley, BC, V1M 2R5