Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Festival du Voyageur

On Monday, we had a provincial holiday in Manitoba. It was called Louis Riel Day and you can read more about it here. Provincial holiday means that not everybody in Canada had a holiday, the federal government still went about its business, but our province took the day off. I celebrated the day by doing a lot of things outdoors! First I went skating on the river, which was the first time I've done that. It was bumpy and windy. (no photos, I can't skate and shoot photos at the same time.)

Then I walked my dogs, which is a normal daily activity. Then....the professor and I went to Festival du Voyageur. Festival (with a French pronounciation of fest-ee-vaaal!) is a chance to learn about Manitoba's fur traders, Western French Canadians and the culture of the early Red River Colony. It's also a chance to have fun outside, see amazing snow sculpture, hear fun music and eat fair food.

It was a bright sunny day and very crowded. Here's the line to get into the reproduction of Ft. Gibraltar. We parked very far away and walked a long while to get to the line. I was very sore the next day from skating, walking and tromping through snow and wished I'd brought my snow shoes!

Then we went to see my friend Carol, whose beautiful weavings are featured at the festival. These traditional sashes are handspun and woven very tightly. The commercial yarns Carol uses all have to be "respun" to make them stronger before weaving--the original use for "energized singles!" The fur traders used these sashes to carry hundreds of pounds of fur on their backs as they travelled long distances. They are also very pretty!
Carol weaves the sashes in a variety of ways. Some are done on a loom, and some are done with finger weaving or sprang. Her sashes are in big demand in the province.

After saying hello to Carol, we sampled some bison jerky and even some bannock cooked on a campfire outside. We visited a tipi and the fort museum. We heard live music from loud speakers, but didn't manage to settle down in one of the tents to listen for any length of time. There was so much to see!

We also watched these fun games where adults in canoes (with wheels) competed and had to use their paddles to beat other competitors. They tried to use their paddles to push off of snow banks and other canoes. The only thing they didn't try to do was portage the canoes! All in good fun...
We finished off our visit with some hot mini doughnuts coated in cinnamon and sugar. We limited ourselves to 15, but we could have bought an entire bucket...and they even offered bucket refills! While that seemed decadent and unhealthy, we could see the temptation of hot fried sweet food that boosts the energy of people who spent all day outdoors working in the cold.

We admired all the snow sculptures (there were lots) and then took the long trudge back to the car. I ended the day with a hot bath and woke up with sore muscles, but it was worth it!

(I hope I made up for the lack of photos in the last post! All photos here are courtesy of the professor, who took these. My hands were too cold and I'm not good with the camera while wearing my mittens...)

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Blogger Geek Knitter said...

You are a stronger woman than I! Being cold makes me cranky, I don't think I'd make it up there.

February 17, 2010 at 12:55 PM  
Blogger Jame said...

Looks like a fun festival! I am envious of your opportunity to skate on the canals. We're limited to skating in circles at the local rink in Cary, NC. :-)

February 17, 2010 at 1:00 PM  
Blogger PghCathy said...

Looks like lots of fun. I would have sprung for the donut refills, though. Healthy eater I'm not. I would have needed the carbs to help keep me warm.(anyway, that's my excuse!)

February 17, 2010 at 4:31 PM  
Blogger ilana said...

wow! this looks like so much fun! the canoe race reminds me of the outhouse racing on lake george in ny. and the snow sculptures look fantastic. i wonder if the one with a person riding a dragon-looking creature is a nod to avatar?

February 17, 2010 at 8:31 PM  
Blogger Freyalyn said...

Oh what fun! I'm fascinated by the sashes, and keep finding references to them. And proper snow and ice!

February 18, 2010 at 2:22 AM  
Blogger AdrieneJ said...

How interesting that the yarns have to be respun to be woven into sashes! I never knew that before!

February 19, 2010 at 10:22 AM  
Blogger Alison said...

Cool! (Or downright cold, take your pick, but still!)

--AlisonH at

February 19, 2010 at 4:11 PM  

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