Fort Langley The next important fur trader to visit the lower Fraser River was James McMillan in 1827. By this time, the North West Company and the Hudson’s Bay Company had merged under the name of the latter company. McMillan built a Hudson’s Bay Company trading post, Fort Langley, on the Lower Fraser River, not too far from today’s Coquitlam. Over the years, Fort Langley developed into a small community where First Nations people and Europeans exchanged not only furs, but salmon and other goods. Farming also started in this area. But no European settlement occurred in Coquitlam until thirty more years had passed, at which time a natural resource other
than furs would suddenly attract thousands of non-native men (and a few women) to the Fraser River.
H.B.C. Trading Post near Presentday Corner of Austin Avenue and Mundy Street? Local historians Monk and Stewart, writing in the late 1950’s, suggest that a Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) trading post was built here sometime before 1858, possibly as early as 1827. “Until very recent years there were definite signs of an old Hudson’s Bay Company trading post at the corner of Austin Avenue and Mundy Street. Of course, the old buildings have long since fallen down and only the ruins remain.”6 They suggest that there was a trail connecting the end of Burrard Inlet to this post and then south to the “Indian Village” at what is now Colony Farm. According to this theory, the HBC used the trail to transport supplies overland from Burrard Inlet to the Fraser River. When in 1858 travel up the Fraser River by boat became common, this trail became unnecessary and was abandoned. There is some other evidence supporting the existence of this trading post.7 On the other
hand, there is no record in the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives of a trading post at this location.8 Furthermore, it seems an odd location for a trading post, as it is not near any body of water, is at a higher elevation than other potential sites, is not near any known First Nations village, and is in an area that would have been heavily forested with huge timber. Probably there was no such trading post.
Fraser River Gold Rush Gold was discovered in 1858 on the Fraser below present day Yale. Over the next six months, thousands of miners, many from the United States, arrived in Victoria and travelled from there to the gold fields on the Fraser River. The British authorities, wanting to prevent an American takeover in the area, created the new mainland colony of British Columbia. They also sent a company of 400 Royal Engineers, led by Colonel R.C. Moody. Their job was to help create the infrastructure of roads and bridges needed for settlement and to maintain order in the new gold mining fields. Road building began in the Lower Mainland, and paddlewheel steamboats transported the miners up the Fraser River.
Exploration and Settlers
In summary, Fraser and his men, aided by many First Nations people along the way, accomplished the following three things. First, they made the journey without loss of life or serious injury to any member of the party. Second, they established that the Fraser River was not the Columbia. Finally, the journey of exploration contributed to the later development of supply lines to Hudson’s Bay Company fur trading posts throughout British Columbia.
“Until very recent years there were definite signs of an old Hudson’s Bay Company trading post at the corner of Austin Avenue and Mundy Street. Of course, the old buildings have long since fallen down and only the ruins remain.” 23
Published on Mar 3, 2017