Says John. the above picture was taken on "Georgia Street, Vancouver, outside TV station. We were asked to pose in a "typically Victorian way"by the TV cameraman and although we did our best, I think we ended up looking like wax figures from Madame Tussauds!
From right to left: Foster, Tucker, Miller, King, Thomas
Original pen and ink by John in 1958
PRINCESS SEES HISTORY
ROLL BACK AT LANGLEY
It was good.
It was genuine.
It was something Hollywood could never attain.
There was only one difficulty, and that is the usual one in Canada. There was no on to tell the crowd how much history, how much discipline they were seeing in the changing of the guard at Fort Langley, B.C. on July 22, 1958.
Because Hollywood can make it look so much better, Hollywood is not hampered by history. It doesn't ask the extras to march 120 to the minute against 100.
There was on one to tell of the November day when McMillan and his men came down with the light bateaux of Michel LaFrombois through the birch and alder thickets and shot the elk for camp meat on the Langley Prairie portage.
No one to tell of the coopers who cut staves for the barrels when B.C.'s first salmon pack--died and salted--was exported from here in wood cut on the lake which is now know as Stave Lake.
No record, public, of how much whiskey they could drink, how well they could shoot, how far they could travel on two pounds of pemican a day.
Museum Former Cattle Barn
Except a few old timers like Duncan Mackenzie ("yes, probably related to old Sir Alexander --all sheep stealers you know") who prospected in the north, in the Yukon, in the Northwest Territories.
He is curator of old Fort Langley museum, the last building of the original fort settlement in existence.
It was used as a cattle barn by the farmer who owned this land in the 1920s. Only a new floor and one new beam and electric lights, he says. Everything else the same.
The timbers squared and groove-in-tongued in the French-Canadian style of long ago. They don't make log building like that any more.
She walked down the red carpet, laid over the gravel pathway.
"That guy," said the photographer to the Mountie, "He's moved right out in front of us. no credentials. Get him out."
The Mountie moved over to the amateur with the movie camera and spoke to him.
"Get him out. Get him out," said the cameraman.
The Mountie blocked the intruder's lens.
Princess Sees Ancient Relics
There are two museums at Fort Langley now. The old one, at the stockade, the original with the squared logs which used to be a cow barn and is now a federal park shrine, and the new one, built by the municipality a block away.
Princess Margaret moved slowly through the old museum, declined a glass of water from the gallon glass jug wit the prominent manufacturer's label, asked about the picture of the Coast Salish longhouse, the stone adze they used in canoe making, the packsaddle, and the model of the old fort (which has since been found to be inaccurate.)
She was particularly interested in the old, iron Hudson's Bay safe.
"They kept the gold dust in it," said Mackenzie.
"Did they grind up the gold nuggets to make gold dust?" she asked.
As I say, she is typically feminine.
Ex-prospector Mackenzie is an equable man.
He explained that gold dust is all they ever got from the lower Fraser River bars. Flour gold, they called it.
It was the man who went looking for the big nuggets, the heavy stuff which couldn't carry down this far, who opened up this province. Looking for the motherlode, and finding the big nuggets in the Cariboo, up north of the Fraser Canyon.
When it was time to go, she paused beside the desk and the old chair (the chair made in the Hudson's Bay fort).
There was a clean, blue-lined ledger in front.
"I believe," said Lieut.-Gov. Frank Ross, "that there is a register for Your Royal Highness to sign in the new museum."
Her Royal Highness said, "I would like to sign this one."
So she took the governor's pen and wrote in a clear hand, "Margaret, July 22, 1958."
Which a lot of British Columbians are going to remember.
Old Fort Vivid Reminder
Of 1858 For Royal Visitor
The plane buzzed back as she was saying the expected: "... to see what 100 years have done for British Columbia ... most fitting that the reopening of Fort Langley should have been chosen as one of the main projects ... feel sure this will continue to be a source of pride.
Flag Unfurled Bit Too Soon
Most of it came in a clear voice with a strong English accent. The loudspeaker quit on a few words--it seemed that she has lost the thread of her talk, but it was the equipment.
A Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman yanked a cord too soon and the Centennial flag snapped open. When the princess pulled, only the Union Jack remained to open. It did.
July 22, 1958
Two men of the Royal Engineers from Chatham, England, standing at ease in the old-fashioned style -- one foot ahead of the other, arms folded frontward, instead of backward, enclosing the Lancaster muzzle-loaded rifle. (It fires 70 grains of black powder in a blank charge salute, is .57 calibre, and can shoot almost as hard backward as frontward.)
They wore 1858 uniforms, found in the Royal Engineers museum in England.
"Progress," whispered Capt. Bus Breivik of the Royal Canadian Engineers who has toured B.C. with them, "Red flannel, buttoning up to the neck. Look at me in 1958; blue serge buttoning up to the neck in my Number Ones. Even worse."
The vets of the Legion were watching closely at the changing of the guard. So was the princess. There was a lot to see for the army men.
Engineer Drill 'Like American'
The Royal Engineers guard marching out in the manner of the last century. The forearm bending at each step, the pace slow, slow, slow.
The engineers still march 120 to the minute instead of the 140 to the minute of the light regiments of British and Canadian armies. but this was the ancient step of 110. It looked like slow motion.
"The Americans kept the old style. This is more like American army drill than modern British or Canadian," said Royal Engineer Captain Geoffrey Gathercole.
Opposite, the Royal Canadian Engineers marching in at 120.
Try marching 120 a minute against 110 a minute some time.
The Canadians in khaki. Carrying the Belgian FN. They carry it down, by the long pistol grip, parallel with the body. A stubby little ceremonial bayonet on top. The gun itself a wicked-looking thing --not much wood and a lot of blued steel.
The Royal Engineers, the Lancaster muskets sloped, 18 inches of sword-bayonet on the top, mounted sidesaddle in the old way.
The British corporal inspected his guard and straightened one man's bearskin busby. The crowd laughed. The princess laughed.
Pictures on Page 25 By PAUL ST. PIERRE Vancouver Sun Staff Reporter July 22, 1958, Fort Langley. One of the flags came unfurled too soon.
The loudspeaker blooped in the middle of the princess's speech.
The flower girl was stricken with the heat and excitement, the 350 yards of royal red carpet couldn't be kept clean and inside the stockade of the reconstructed Fort Langley it was as hot as the hinges on the gates of hell.
But these things were superficial.
The ceremony with which Princess Margaret officially opened Fort Langley Historic Park, Tuesday, July 22, 1958, ran far smoother undoubtedly than the one at which Governor James Douglas proclaimed the founding of the colony of British Columbia on November 19, 1858. On that day cold winter rains drove the whole ceremony indoors.
July 22, 1958, Fort Langley
To all those with an ear open to the faint but clear voices from the past, a historic day, colorful, warming, stirring.
The princess was one of those who felt it.
She was to prove this--not with her routine and some-what silted little speech but later, in the old Fort Langley storehouse that is now a museum.
If she doesn't know much about washing gold, she does know history when she sees it.
She arrived crack on time, 2:15 p.m. at the stockade gates, wit the usual retinue of politicians behind her.
Rebuilding of Fort Not Yet Complete
She wore a light blue dress and a blue turban. They drew attention to her blue eyes which, with her full and very mobile lips are her most striking features.
The old fort has been reconstructed, parts of it are still being rebuilt, on the mound on the bank of the Fraser behind McMillan's Island.
(They know it's the original site--University of B.C. students dug trenches to find the old footings for the palisades before the new construction was put up.)
Nearby the meandering creek called Salmon River where James McMillan of the Hudson's Bay Company, guided by an Iroquios named George and George's slave, paddled down from Mud bay in 1824.
"The soil here appears very rich, a black mould, " reported McMillan of the Langley Prairie.
In 1827, when the first Fort Langley was built and in 1840 when the present site was occupied, the Hudson's Bay farmed these lands. Some of the produce was sold to the Russians who came down in their ships from Sitka, Alaska.
July 22, 1958.
Defence Minister George Pearkes, VC, wasn't able to be present. He had been summoned to Ottawa because of the international crisis.
In Extreme Heat
Almost a thousand people sat on chairs on the sloping grounds inside the stockade.
At the far end, nearest the Fraser (called the Coweechin by McMillan, called the Tahlko and sometimes the Patoochlie by the Salishan Indians of a century ago) was the dais for the official ceremony.
Roberta Poppy, 9, daughter of Reeve Poppy of Langley municipality, had been taken outside the stockade to St. John Ambulance tent, the first of a dozen children and adults who keeled over. "Heat and over-excitement" was the diagnosis.
She had recovered by this time and walked up to the platform, curtsied, and presented a bouquet of yellow roses.
Women Sewed Old Costumes
Nineteen-year-old Anne Seigo, representing Maple Ridge branch of the Canadian Legion from across the big river, presented the princess with a needlepoint picture of the church of St. John the Divine, built originally at Fort Langley, transferred to the Haney district where it still stands.
"She asked me about it but I was nervous and couldn't think of what to tell her," said Anne.
July 22, 1958.
A float plane buzzed back and forth, altitude about 600 feet, south of the crowd.
On the grounds: Brownies, Girl Guides, Legion men in their tams, TV camera atop a big giraffe-like crane, a half-moon of photographers in front of the stand, Langley district women in old fashioned dresses -- "we found some that were really a hundred years old, other we sewed ourselves," said a matron.
Over the main gate of the stockade three flags -- the Centennial flag, the Union Jack, the Hudson's Bay flag.
Over the stand, two flags with WO2 W.A. Foster of the British Engineers watching them fretfully. "It's the way you tie," he said. "I've been doing it for 24 years. One snap and the silk should just burst out, but the halyards were cut a little short."
The princess was speaking.
She had held her script in her hand while Premier Bennett and Langley's Alec Hope spoke, looking a little nervous.
After she spoke she crossed her legs with their brief, white strap shoes. When relaxed, she has a habit of turning her feet as though she wishes she could kick her shoes off and wiggle her toes. It is part of her particularly feminine way.
The Frozen Miner -- Century Sam
As I sat down one evening
Within a small café,
A forty year-old waitress
These words to me did say:
"I see that you're a miner
And not just a common bum,
Because nobody but a miner
Stirs his coffee with his thumb".
I told that pretty waitress
"There's none like me today,
If you'd pour whiskey on it,
I'd eat a bale of hay".
I never shave these whiskers
From off this horny hide,
I just drive 'em in with a mattock
And bite 'em off inside.
I went to see my waitress
'Twas on a wintery day'
I held her in a fond embrace
That broke three vertebrae.
I kissed her when we parted
So hard it broke her jaw.
She could not speak to tell me
I'd forgotten my mackinaw.
I left my pretty waitress
Went wading thru'the snow,
Going bravely home wardbound
At forty-eight below.
The weather it tried to freeze me
It tried its level best,
At a hundred degrees below zero
I buttoned up my vest.
I went up to the Klondyke,
In eighteen eighty two,
I met a working pal of mine
His name was Dan McGrew.
We panned for gold together
In prospects old and new,
Until the fatal shooting
By the lady known as Lou.
It left me broken-hearted
For I had lost my mate,
And so I left the Klondyke
with dear old Klondyke Kate.
Now as the years roll onward
I hold on to my pan
And there you have one story,
Of me Old Century Sam
(To the tune of "I tooral I ooral I addee")
"I don't know the history of this poem. It was recited now and again in 1958, but may have been written especialy for the centennial celebrations," says John. "Century Sam was a caricature drawn for the occasion and displayed in a number of places, especially in the Lower Fraser."
Of this last piece, John says, "History unknown, but it has been around since WW II, at least."
- 21 -
Now a Lord of the realm has glorified
the charge of the Light Brigade,
and the thin red line of the infantry,
when will its glory fade?
There are robust rhymes on the British tar
and classics on Musketeers,
but I shall sing till your ear-drums ring
of the MUDDY OLD ENGINEERS.
Now it's all very fair to fly through the air
or to humor a heavy gun, or to ride in tanks,
through the ranks of the crushed and battered Hun,
And it's nice to think when the U-Boats sink
of the glory that outlives years.
But who ever heard one vaunting word
for the MUDDY OLD ENGINEERS.
Now you mustn't fell when you read this spiel
that the sapper's a jealous knave
that he joined the ranks for a vote of thanks
in search of a hero's grave.
No! Your mechanized cavalry is quite alright
and your Tommy has darned few peers,
but where in hell would the lot of them be
if it weren't for the ENGINEERS.
Oh, they look like tramps and build your camps
and they sometimes lead the advance
and they sweat red blood to bridge the flood
to give you a fighting chance.
Who stays behind when it gets too hot
to blow up the roads in your rear,
just tell your wife that she owes your life
to some MUDDY OLD ENGINNERS.
No fancy crest is pinned on his chest!
If you read what his hat-badge says,
why 'Honi soit qui nal y pense'is a gruesome sort of phrase.
But their modest claim to immortal fame
has probably reached your ears,
the first to arrive and the last to leave
are the MUDDY OLD ENGINEERS.