|Boundary Waters Canoe Area- The Ultimate Outdoor Experience|
Happy New Year! I hope everybody had a great Holiday season. 2009 is here and with it comes a new Wilderness Journey season, new trips, new hopes and new memories.
The first show of the season will be at the Ultimate Fishing Show- Jan 8-11, 2009 at the Rock Financial Showplace Center in Novi, MI. Click here to see Showspan's website We hope to see all the past and future clients at the show. Come by our booth and we will be happy to review your routes as well as answer any other questions you may have. Plus, you have to check out the show special- it can’t be beat! With the condition of the Michigan (and national) economy, we made sure that anybody can afford a trip of a lifetime. We have included a 4 day trip show special this year.
January’s Fish Contest
This month’s fish category is the smallmouth bass.
We had a tremendous year for Smallies. I was witness to many trophies taken. I probably saw over 50 that were 19” or larger and that doesn’t include the hundreds of fish that were 15” to 19”. We had 4 that were 20 ½”. So the winner of this month’s category will be the first one caught in the 2008 season.
So the winner of the January Fish Contest is Dave Blake. Dave has been on numerous trips with us and it doesn’t surprise me that he caught one of these fish. We do not have a photo of this fish but we do have a past trophy of Dave’s.
January's History Lesson
The word Voyageur is a French word meaning 'traveler', either an explorer, trader, or given to anyone who ventured into the Northwest. Through time, it began to be applied solely to the French-Canadian paddlers of the great trading canoes. The canoes used ranged from the famous canoe de nord's or North canoe which run upwards of 26 feet long and weigh 250 pounds. They would be capable of transporting 8 men with a 2 1/2 ton payload. The largest of the great Voyageur canoes was the canot de Maitre or Master Canoe. It reached 40 feet in length, weighed upwards of 400 pounds and carried 10-12 men with a payload of 4 tons. Our Voyageur canoe is 32 feet in length, can accommodate 14 adults comfortably and is of wood construction. The original Voyageur canoes were made of a wood frame covered by sewn birch bark. The stitching was waterproofed by pitch rendered from pine. The canoe was very fragile but paddled with great skill and respect, and due to its natural fiber construction, was repairable during any part of a trip.
To be a Voyageur was a highly sought after position. The pay was low: about 80 dollars per season!. The food rations were meager: the staple was Bannock and a pea soup mixture with chunks of pork thrown in or occasionally this fare was replaced by pemmican. And the life harsh and extremely dangerous. Why would someone willingly seek such a job? Well first off, there was little room for the further development of the St. Lawrence farming communities. Also settlement of the west was unheard of. It was believed to be ruled by the Natives and uninhabitable for Europeans. Life in Quebec was not a life of luxury for most people, and finally, to be a Voyageur was to live a life of excitement and adventure. Today such a life looks horrific to your average American. To the young men of the Voyageur age it was great work.
Let's start by looking at the physical make-up of the Voyageur. He would have stood no more that 5'5" and be of slight build. The paddler had to take up as little room as possible in the canoe- the cargo had priority. Stamina was critical as well- a Voyageur had to be able to paddle 15-18 hours per day for months at a time. This stamina of course includes all the portages crossed throughout the trip over any given portage and each portage required 3 trips per man. Most Voyageurs carried no less than three 90 pound packages per trip so as not to appear weak. Stories are told of some men being able to carry eight 90 pound packages over a portage per trip. Stories such as these were the few times a Voyageur admitted inferiority to another man. The largest of the canoes was carried by only four men over the portage.
Voyageurs felt a great deal of pride in their strength and stamina. This pride showed itself in their dress while in towns. They tended to be flashy dressers cutting a wide swath around town with tales of their feat of strength and endurance. The dress of the Voyageur while on the rivers was unique to the day (and ours as well). They wore toques, headbands or hats. Regardless of the type of headgear, it had placed in it either one or two feathers. One feather signified a middle paddler, two, a bow paddler (captain) or stern paddler. They wore a loose fitting shirt, vest, trousers and moccasins. Around the waist was wrapped a sash. This sash or ceinture fleche as it was called varied from 2-10 inches wide and up to 15 feet in length. If was finger woven (it takes an incredible amount of time to make-they were usually made over the winter) and each district had its own design. These sashes gave a bit of life to an otherwise drab outfit. Hanging from the sash was a beaded bag that was used to carry the Voyageurs personal items and was also used as a seat cushion.
A trip began at the wharves in Montreal where the merchant would see to the loading of the Canot du Maitre. The items selected for trade (we've already discussed these little gems) were arranged into 90 pound packages. Up to 60 of these packages were loaded into a canoe along with the 10 or so men.
After a month of paddling up current; of fighting storms, rapids and portages the canoes would arrive at Lake Winnipeg. The loads would be divided and loaded onto the canoe du nord's and again paddled up river to the far destinations of trading posts like Edmonton House. Here the Voyagers would spend their winters. Some would travel by dog sleds during winters still moving the goods of the fur trade.
The Untold Stories of the 2008 Season
This is a story that took place on a personal trip a few years back. It was 1:00 am and I was sound asleep when I woke up to a friend of mine kneeling on my chest yelling, “WHAT’S THAT??! SOMETHING’S TRYING TO GET IN!” I removed her from my chest and proceeded to start swinging and kicking my legs. I found my flashlight and pointed it on the door of the tent. We just had the screen shut so I could see outside. I saw nothing. I tried to settle my friend down but she was convinced something was out there. When she laid back down to sleep, she started yelling again and said, “It’s under the foot of my sleeping bag.” I shined the light and I felt something under her bag. I start to pummel it into submission. I stopped and took a closer look and realized that during the initial attack, I had beat her Thermarest and it blew up like a balloon. It was at least 17” tall. I started to laugh hysterically but she wasn’t so amused. She said she’d wake me when the sun came up.
I didn’t tell her at the time but earlier I did hear something but a mouse can make as much noise as a bear. I fell back asleep and woke early. It was a little cloudy out but calm. I wanted to see the pictographs so I was planning to head to Iron Lake. I wasn’t sure how she’d feel after last night’s incident, so I waited around 6:30 am when she started stirring in the tent. I brought her a cup of coffee. She stuck her head out the tent as I approached and she started laughing. We both start laughing and after a couple of minutes we talked about the previous night’s event. Everything was all right.
One of the best attractions in Ely is the International Wolf Center. It’s right on the eastern part of town right across from the Kawishiwi Ranger Station. The International Wolf Center opened the doors to its $3 million, 17,000-square-foot facility featuring the "Wolves and Humans" exhibit in June 1993. A visit is well worth the effort. Here are a few photos from one of our clients, Tom Hector.
Checkout their website at:
Check it out…
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|2566 Marchar Wolverine Lake, Michigan 48390