I would like to congratulate all who participated in the Rivers Day celebrations in body and spirit on June 12.
Locally, I believe events were spawned by suggestions made at the local ManOMin conference (sponsored by Rainy River Watershed Program and Rainy River First Nations).
There, guest speaker Max Finkelstein (author, adventurer, and a representative of the Canada River Heritage Systems), remarking on the historical significance of our local waterways, suggested communities and organizations take on the challenge of having the Rainy River designated a Canadian Heritage River.
Though many enjoy the river and its heritage, this process has not officially begun nor all the advantages explored (for more info, visit www.chrs.ca).
Though not planned, it was only fitting that the Métis canoe expedition came through town the same weekend as Rivers Day. Having met them and seeing the much-deserved support by the local Métis community, I joined in to add my support and help.
From this contact, there was talk of possible “rendez-vous” celebrations, possibly on Rivers Day. I would suggest the communities invite these voyageurs back to hear of their adventures and see the bright future through these accomplished individuals.
Lately, my enjoyment of the local waterways revolved around “Big Canoe” and those who paddled her.
Sadly, “Big Canoe” has moved on. The Métis Nation of Ontario purchased the 30-ft. heritage replica canoe after they saw the value of such a fine craft for the safety and enjoyment of the voyageurs as well in their future programs.
When was the last time a Montreal freighter canoe was sold in Fort Frances? It was not so long ago that 30 or more birchbark canoes a year were made in the community for the waterways of North America.
My supplier of “Big Canoe” informed me they manufacture 100+ large heritage replica canoes a year and I know other manufacturers. These large canoes have been shipped throughout the world since a revival of wilderness adventuring (both extreme and soft adventure).
Imagine if this community could attract the suppliers, outfitters, and enthusiasts here annually Rivers Day for a showcase of this lifestyle and all it has to offer.
Imagine if diverse groups could come together at a “rendez-vous” here and find their common goals as many once did in the area. Ten years ago, few people could dream of 100 or more bass boats parading through town, but now their dreams have come true.
With this challenge to achieve these dreams, I also would like to challenge any group to bring another heritage canoe back to the area for many to enjoy and explore the rich heritage of the area.
I would gladly support and donate to any such endeavour.
I wish to thank Terry Kawulia of Northwest Mystic Adventures for inspiring me to acquire “Big Canoe,” Pam Hawley, curator of the Fort Frances Museum, for her insight and support of “Big Canoe,” as well as Joe Gladu, Victor Armit, and all paddlers of “Big Canoe” this past year.
In the spirit of the ManOMin conference, Canada Heritage Rivers, and the Métis canoe expedition, I say “Viva la Riviere la Pluie!”
P.S. David Thompson bicentennial celebrations are being held in 2007 across Canada.