BC Heritage Fairs Alumni

The Official Heritage Fairs Student Site

Looking Back to the Fur Trade — July 25, 2018

Looking Back to the Fur Trade

Today we have a post from Jaia about the history of the Fur Trade in Canada, and its effects on Canada’s earliest peoples. 

Last year, Canada celebrated its one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Confederation and I believe that the years to come are opportunities to reflect on the significant events that made Canada the nation that it is. The fur trade was one of these events and it had positive and negative effects, especially on the Indigenous peoples in Canada at this time.

Long before the confederation of Canada, Indigenous peoples were an essential part of the fur trade. These people were in Canada first and the Europeans used them for their knowledge of trapping animals and collecting furs in the winter, as well as other skills. During this time, the Indigenous peoples contributed their time and efforts to the fur trade and worked hard to trade their furs with others. However, the fur trade affected their ways of life in a negative way due to business competition, violence and foreign diseases being spread.


In the fur trade, two main companies, The Hudson’s Bay Company and the North West Company, dominated business and used competition to motivate themselves during the cold winters. Due this competition, the high demand for furs made Indigenous people highly involved in the process, and decreased the populations of animals in the area. This was not an immediate problem, but eventually began to put many Indigenous men out of work due to the lack of trapping. This was very important as many Indigenous men had to move away with their families and become farmers, not continuing their jobs as trappers.

Although the fur trade had a mostly negative impact on Indigenous peoples, it created an economy based on profits from furs. This caused general hunting grounds to be divided, but created a new concept of territorialism, which could be thought of as negative. This territorialism brought up conflict between the Algonquians and Iroquois, as well as creating high tension over the St. Lawrence (the path for French fur traders). Therefore, violence was increased and brought up controversy in the lives of Indigenous peoples, beginning the demoralization of the Indigenous reputation.


Another reason that the fur trade negatively impacted Indigenous peoples was because many European diseases were introduced to Canada, leaving Indigenous peoples to cope with their lack of immunity. Smallpox, measles, and cholera were transmitted from Europeans to Indigenous peoples who were either not able to fight the symptoms or use their traditional medicines to heal. These diseases and epidemics seriously decreased the health of Indigenous peoples by causing infections leading to fatalities. Not only did this take lives, but also caused many Indigenous peoples to be in critical condition in which working during the harsh winters was not an option of any sort.

In conclusion, the fur trade in Early Canada impacted those from Europeans, to English and French traders to hunters themselves. Unfortunately, Indigenous peoples suffered from the long-term effects, making bargains that would cause the suffering of their people for many years to come. This is why it is important to understand the hardships and sacrifices of people who not only fought to make Canada a better place, but for those who were forced to give up what they knew to make way for others.

DAY 4: Showcase at the Britannia Mine — July 8, 2018

DAY 4: Showcase at the Britannia Mine

Today was the last full day of the 2018 BC provincial heritage fair and it was also the climax of our week. Today was the showcase at the Britannia Mine Museum; here students got the opportunity to share their projects with our dignitaries, parents, the larger community and each other. We started off our morning by heading to the museum and preparing for our showcase and the opening ceremony. Our alumni emceed the opening ceremony and welcomed many professionals and dignitaries to come and talk to the students. After the opening ceremony, the BC provincial heritage fair was officially open and the students began to share information that they have been researching for months. As people came in and talked to students, they left with more knowledge about our country and its stories.



Afterwards, we went on to explore the mines ourselves. We first went on a guided tour of the Britannia Mines and got to ride a train into a tunnel in the mine. We got to see what types of drills were used when miners were finding copper, and we also got to hear the machines that were used when the mine was active. On this tour we learnt a tonne about how the mine worked and we also got to understand how the rocks were broken down into copper. Afterwards, when the tour was over, we got to have some gift shop time and got to try out some gold panning in hopes to become millionaires (see photo above), unfortunately none of us did, but not for lack of trying.


To end our provincial fair we had a banquet. Here students, and volunteers were recognized for their hard work. At this year’s banquet, students, parents, volunteers and many others gathered to have dinner, this later transitioned into speeches and other recognition. This was a great way to end off our provincial fair: at the end friendships had bloomed, and memories were made which will last a lifetime.

Congratulations to all the students and thank you to all the volunteers. It has been a fun and successful Provincial Heritage Fair!

Author: Anisha


DAY 3: Forestry, Waterfront, Downtown and More! — July 7, 2018

DAY 3: Forestry, Waterfront, Downtown and More!

Today was the third day of the 2018 BC provincial heritage fair and it was a day full of learning and reflecting on our heritage. We started off the day by learning; we listened to a local historian named Eric Anderson on a tour around Squamish.  Eric talked to the students about the history of logging and how it has evolved over the past years. In this tour, we took time at important locations and learnt about how they played a vital role in creating what we know as Squamish today. In this tour, Eric explained the how the railway routes were used as the area’s layout, which I personally found very interesting.

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Next, we did a walking tour in downtown Squamish, hosted by the Historical Society. On the tour we followed a map to find historic locations around town. The map showed us to plaques around the downtown area, on these plaques we saw pictures of what the place around was and used to look like. There were 15 plaques in total each showcasing the significance of what used to be there. After we finished our tour we had lunch and then some much deserved free time where students got the opportunity to look at all the shops around downtown Squamish, and buy souvenirs for their friends and family.

After lunch, we headed on the bus for a drive up to Whistler. When we arrived we were welcomed by the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre by a song. In this song, we got to act like different animals (see a picture of “Bears” dancing below). The museum activities started off by watching an insightful video about the two Nations. Then, we headed to see the artifacts displayed in the museum. This facility is absolutely beautiful with big windows and meaningful carvings throughout the entire museum. One of the activities that we got to do at the museum was making rope out of thin strips of wet cedar. Each student got to make a piece of rope and many turned these into bracelets and anklets or bookmarks or zipper ties. Before we headed back to the university we got to walk and shop at Whistler Village.

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After having dinner and ice cream at Quest University, we got to have Paul Gravett from Heritage BC run a workshop with us. The workshop split the group up in to 6 smaller groups, and each group tackled the same questions. All the questions had to do with heritage and made us think about the purpose of heritage and what it means in our province today. This was a very important workshop, because the answers and ideas that students came up with are going to be written into a report and shown to the BC government to in effort to help get heritage more support.

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All in all we had an amazing and educational third day! Tomorrow is showcase!

Author: Anisha

DAY 2: Rails and Gondolas! — July 6, 2018

DAY 2: Rails and Gondolas!

We started the day by heading to The West Coast Railway Park. There, we were given tours of old, decommissioned steam engines and train cars by the Park’s lovely volunteers. One of these cars, The BC Car (Number 16), was bought by a top business man at the turn of the century. The wealthy man converted the car from a passenger car, capable of carrying up to one hundred people, into a private space where he could carry out his business all the while traveling across Canada. We also rode a miniature train around the park which took us by more of the park’s beautiful pieces.

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Our second stop was the Sea to Sky gondola and hiking trails. As we rode the gondola to the top of the mountain, we were amazed by Squamish’s stunning mountainous sights. One of which was The Chief, a popular spot for rock climbing and an important place for the First Nations people of the Squamish region. Once at the top, we ate a sandwich lunch amongst the gorgeous mountain ranges. With our energy restored, we set off to the park’s extensive trails. We were led by some of the most knowledgeable mountain tour guides to date who shared with us valuable survival tips! In groups, we learned how to make stretchers out of jackets and branches, and how to make a shelter from nothing more than a tarp, a rope, and our surroundings.



After riding the gondola back down the mountain, to the Whistle Punk Hollow campsite for dinner. We took a quick walk down to a nearby stream to work up out appetites before enjoying a barbeque dinner and watermelon dessert. We spent our spare time making friends and trading pins. As our slowest eaters finished their last bites, every group came together to participate in some fun games lead by our alumni team. We headed back to the Quest University Campus just as the sun began to set. Our final activities were perfect for settling down after a long day of adventuring. We played human bingo and watched a twenty-minute video about the Britannia Mines, where we will be having our project showcase on Saturday.

Author: Rhiannon

DAY 1: The BC Provincial Fair arrives in Squamish! — July 5, 2018

DAY 1: The BC Provincial Fair arrives in Squamish!

Today marked our first day of the 2018 Provincial Heritage Fair. It was a beautiful sunny day with high temperatures of 28 degrees, scattered clouds, and plenty of blue skies. Students all over the province arrived throughout the day at Quest University in Squamish. Whether by plane from Kamloops, by ferry from Victoria, or bus from Vancouver, we all arrived safely.

Fair 2018 tour photo

Our activities began with a tour of the Quest University campus, led by university alumni. We were fortunate to meet the president of Quest, who inspired students to live life to the fullest. It was fascinating to learn about the university’s unique approach on education, where the emphasis is on learning, rather than grades and competition. The small population of 700 students means that the community is tight-knit. Quest is located on a mountain, meaning lots of uphill walking for us over the next 4 days.

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After our tour of the campus, we were rewarded with an outdoor pizza dinner, complete with juice boxes, water, and vegetables. After the dinner, we finally got our roommates and room assignments. The dorms exceeded any of our expectations – not only does each room have a spectacular view of the mountains and university campus, they have a common room, 2 bedrooms, and a private washroom. This spacious layout allows us to socialize with our roommates comfortably.

Next, alumni students and coordinator Britney led the delegates in a series of icebreaker games. Fun games such as Atoms, Freeze Tag, and the Human Knot successfully integrated students and people were able to learn new names and faces. This was one of the most exciting and rewarding parts of the day, and a perfect way to get to know everybody. Forty-seven students arrived today, mostly strangers, but today was the first step to creating new friendships.

Fair 2018 Ice cream

Finally, to cap off our first day at the fair, everyone had a chance to create their own unique ice cream sundaes. Whether it was covered in jelly beans or finished with caramel drizzle, delegates left with huge satisfied smiles on their faces. Finally, delegates drifted off to their rooms for quiet time and a chance to write their reflective journals. It was a successful first day for the Provincial Fair, as students were welcomed to Quest University and began making new friendships.

Author: Samantha

Regional Heritage Fair Wrap-Up — July 3, 2018

Regional Heritage Fair Wrap-Up

With our Provincial Heritage Fair just days away, we thought it would be a great time to do a wrap-up of some of our regional fairs! Heritage Fairs, from school fairs to the provincial fair, are a time when all the hard work is done and students have the opportunity to show off what they’ve spent so long creating. I was able to attend the Richmond Regional Fair as a judge, and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing all of the projects the local students had created.

Are you interested in getting involved in your local fair, but don’t know where to start? Leave us a comment and we’ll get you in touch with the right person. Maybe you’re a student or teacher looking for information on how to do a heritage fair project – we’ve got a resource for that, and the Richmond Regional Heritage Fair has a website with resources dedicated to teachers, students, and judges! Or maybe, just maybe, you’re going to the provincial fair this year and you’re already thinking about how to stay involved next year – if so, check out our Alumni Program page, or chat with one of our alumni at the fair. – Rachel, Alumni Coordinator


Thanks to several of the alumni who have sent these summaries of their individual fairs. First up, here’s a summary of the Rivers to Sea Fair from Lucas:

There were around 60 projects entered this year, from a handful of elementary and secondary schools. The weather held up for the opening ceremony, and students eagerly crowded around the bandstand to hear the fair being opened. Judges then went around and interviewed students for a few hours, and some of my favourite projects included ones about Japanese-Canadian Interment in the Second World War, Tommy Douglas, and Billy Bishop. The whole Burnaby Village Museum was also open after the judging finished, and students were able to enjoy rides on an original Ford Model T vehicle and the iconic C.W. Parker Carousel. The closing ceremonies were held the next day. All in all, it was an extremely well-run fair, and I was again amazed at the time and care that students invested in their project!



Here’s a photo of Vedanshi with another judge and a student participant at the Richmond Regional Heritage Fair:



And last but certainly not least, a roundup of the Kamloops-Thompson Fair from Julia:

This year, Kamloops students arrived to an exciting itinerary for the day. One group was sent to the museum and City Hall for the morning, and the other got to go to the Kamloops Art Gallery.


At the gallery, students were given a guided tour and had the opportunity to draw – inspired by a few pieces in the gallery. They were then taken to a classroom where they worked together to create paintings, which they then cut to create a collage.


Both groups met up downtown to eat lunch and the afternoon proved to be the highlight of the day. Everyone embarked on the 2141 – the historic Kamloops steam train, for an exciting trip. Students were running to the dining car, where they could sit at a table and order water. Others were in the caboose, where you could climb up a ladder to peek over the train. The 2141 took the group all the way across the river to the junction, where the train stopped so the captain could move a very important bag of letters. The train then headed back to the starting point when students were met with a surprise.



Robbers! Three women on horseback surrounded the train, and the leader climbed aboard. The “important bag of letters” actually contained gold, and the robbers were out to get it! With their guns held out, all the passengers had their arms up, and the robbers even stole the captain for a bit.

The 2141 train trip recreates the famous Billy Miner robbery that happened near Kamloops, and the kids had the most fun time. For the history of the 2141 and Billy Miner, see this post.

Thanks to the museum, city hall, art gallery, and especially the staff at the Kamloops Historic Railway. Many thanks to the committee who worked tirelessly to make sure this day was a success. The students enjoyed the day’s activities as well as the project scavenger hunt and the opportunity to present their projects to the public. It was another unforgettable Heritage Fair here in Kamloops!