David Thompson Brigade  

David Thompson Brigade

Wilderness Edge recieves visitors from history...


Leanne Playter, coordinator of the David Thompson Brigade event, photo taken by Anita Drabyk.It all started a little over a year ago; when Leanne Playter the coordinator first reached me to explain to me about this wonderful opportunity for our communities to be part of the Brigade Chronicle. They were hoping we would celebrate the David Thompson Bicentennial with a variety of people from all walks of life, communities, and provinces who were paddling to Old Fort William for the July 12th Rendezvous. Since then I have been mentioning the progress the Winnipeg River Rec District and Pinawa CDC have been doing in preparation of the day the Brigade would arrive.

As we counted down the days through May and then June all of a sudden they were in Lac du Bonnet. A family fun hour was planned at the beach while we waited for the canoes. When they did arrive it was to musket shots and much fanfare as they raced to the beach. A parade was formed to walk to the Community Centre where later a Voyageur Ball was held with about 100 plus participants attending the play put on by Parks Canada David Thompson Live and also a chance to experience a variety of local entertainers. The paddlers rested on Monday until they were up bright and early to feast on a breakfast provided to them by the Lac du Bonnet Pioneer Club on Tuesday, and then paddle up the river to Pinawa.

FW Gilbert School accompanied by the Grades 3 & 4 from Lac du Bonnet eagerly awaited the canoes by experiencing their own rendezvous at the school yard.

Caber Toss, photo by Sharalyn ReitloWildlife identification photo by Sharalynn Reitlo

Nail pounding photo by Sharalynn Reitlosack race photo by Sharalynn Reitlo

Caber toss, nail pounding, wildlife identification (after all a voyageur needs to know what he can eat or what animal would bring lots of money), human canoe, and a variety of other games and then a quick hike and bike to the beach.

school children arriving at the beach to greet the brigade.  Photo Pinawa CDC

For the participants at the beach there was a display of furs and other trapping paraphernalia hosted by the Whiteshell Trappers Association and Brendan Simard entertained the crowd with his fiddling.

Photo by Pinawa CDC

Photo of Brendan by Anita Drabyk

Mayor Blair Skinner arrives to welcome the paddlers.  Photo by pinawa CDCMayor Blair Skinner all decked out in mukluks, buckskin jacket and later a coon hat arrives at the beach to give a formal greeting which involves a welcome and an invitation to come to the beach. Historically canoe journeys were guided by a code of hospitality on the part of the host and respect on the part of the visitor. The needs of the guest were well-understood safe harbour and nourishment. Likewise, the guest recognized the prerogatives of his hosts permission to land on the locals' home territory and the offer of food and rest. Today the Brigade's code is to leave a site cleaner than when they arrived if at all possible.

David Thompson Brigade

As the Brigade enters the mouth of the bay a piper (Norm Crerar) from the brigade plays a welcome while the canoes paddle past the Mayor to wait for a formal creating of welcome.

One of the Brigade pipes a welcome to the canoes.  Photo by Pinawa CDCThe canoes get ready to do a circle eight before asking permission to land. Photo by Pinawa CDC

Photo by Pinawa CDC Photo by Pinawa CDC

Mayor Skinner photo Pinawa CDC

"Bonjour, Hello, Because of our past trading experiences with all of you, and on the behalf of your many wives and children waiting to visit with you on your annual trek to the south; We welcome you to Fort Pinnowok! Welcome David Thompson Brigade to our fort and beach. Where you will find comfort in a hot meal, refreshment, and hot showers before you leave for the Rendezvous at Fort William! You are WELCOME To Come Ashore!

Photo by Pinawa CDC

Photo by Pinawa CDC

A musket is fired by Any Korsos( President of the Brigade) and is answered from another musket in one of the canoes and with a great shout they paddle onto the beach.

Ted the Water Captain answers all the eager questions from the school children while the Principal of FW Gilbert takes a moment to meet Monroe Kinloch (below) a member of the advance crew and greet Mayor Skinner and Rec Director Sharalynn Reitlo.

Photo by Anita Drabyk.

Pinawa school children learn the methods of paddling.

The Brigade spent a lot of time mingling with close to 300 residents who gathered to meet the Brigade some not total strangers because as a friend of a friend helps to make instant contact.

The ground crew, earlier in the day had set up camp around the beach area and soon droves of the voyageurs were making their way to Wilderness Edge and the Orville Acres Arena for a hot shower.