Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Visiting the Voyageurs Encampment of 2019: A Pictorial Album

Posting about the reenactments I participate in allows me to relive the event as well as become a sort of photographic record of my time spent in the past.  That's why I usually post so many of my pictures.  And today's posting is no different.
No matter which reenactment I participate in, I always try to make it a best ever event.  And the Lac Ste. Claire Voyageurs Encampment is always  a best ever event without even trying.  I enjoy the fact that our campsites are on, or very near, where the original Voyageurs first landed in 1820, though many of us reenactors depict an earlier period in the timeline of history.  And we pretty much keep our activities localized.  Yes, I still bring a few historic flags along that were more popular on the east coast during the Revolutionary War period, for they are wonderful conversation starters, but we still center on the varying parts of local history, Voyageur history, and, of course, my favorite: farming.
This year more members of my group, Citizens of the American Colonies, came out and took more of an active part in the reenactment.  It was very nice to see that - I hope that more members join us next year.
So, are you ready to go back?


My wife, the spinster!
A B&K Pic
Clothing - period clothing - is the first thing anyone sees and takes notice of at a reenactment.  I mean, that's pretty much how one can tell they are at a reenactment, correct?  And if the reenactment is not really of a true historical nature,  such as a Renaissance Fair with its fairies, Shrek, talking trees, and all,  it's still the clothing that will give an impression of the past - even if much of  it is  "pseudo."
And for the most part,  the majority of us who practice authentic living history do a pretty darned good job in the period clothing department.  Oh, there are those few who don't really give a care  (and it shows),  and there may be a few disagreements from others in the  "who wore what"  department,  as well as some of the unnecessary nit-pickiness that even our ancestors would scoff at,  but generally,  I would say a greater majority of us could be placed in the past and pass as a local  (until we begin to speak--lol---then our cover would be blown).
However,  living historians cannot live on clothing alone - - the past will still be dead no matter how good you look without the proper accessories  (and historical knowledge!)  to help bring it to life.
To me it is the accessories - items to help show the past - that make the garments,  and,  thus,  you,  fit into the world of another century.
Together it helps to paint a larger picture.
And there always seems to be a story when one reenacts with the Lac Ste. Claire Voyageurs,  for it seems each of  the members tend to show to a great extent the world of the Great Lakes past like few others do,  as you shall see.

We will begin with a rather large accessory - the trading post:
Every year a trading post is erected, giving off a fine 
replication of one from the 18th century, both inside and out.

The dedication that goes into building something like this is 
unsurpassed in its size and nature.

Inside the trading post~
Ken & Richard are two top-notch reenactors - both have 
been in the hobby well over forty years - and their knowledge and 
their look are to be revered.

As we move about the inside of the post we see necessities that 
one could have purchased or bartered for, including knives...


...powder horns... utensils and drinking vessels...

...and other items for 18th century camp and travel life.

And speaking of camp life...
Those of us who reenact understand just how special camp life is to all participants.  Having your tent as part of the greater community simply adds to the overall experience for the visitors.
Next up here is a tour of the camps in this year's event:
The line of tents seemed to go on forever, and with something historical occuring at each one,  the paying guests definitely got their money's worth.
A B&K Pic

The variety of accessorizing at the camps were as varied 
as the participants themselves.

This is one of the few events that we actually will see American 
Indians about,  for the Voyageurs and the Natives were close allies.
Here we see some bartering between a Voyageur and a Native.

A B&K Pic
Mrs. Rooney sells what she spins and spins what she sells.

This is sort of a lean-to, and if you look close you can see cloth 
and other traditional items for sale.

This young man's mother needed water, so he used my yoke and 
beeswax-lined wood buckets to get some.

It gave him a slight experience of his ancestors.

EJ is also a part of the 1st Pennsylvania Revolutionary War 
reenacting unit, and he & Tony are hand-sewing shirts.

The mother and son team of Jennifer and EJ.
It was only a year ago, at this very event, that they
were inquiring about reenacting either the RevWar
or the Civil War.  Guess what they chose?
And we are happy they did!

Susan and Charlotte~ 
Susan was not able to set up her  "Carrot Patch Farm"
sutlery, so she brought some of her wares along in a wagon,
not too unlike one would have seen back in days of old.
It was a very impressive site, indeed, seeing folks
purchase homegrown hand-made items
in this manner.

A church service took place on Sunday morning,  though unlike a 
church service in the 1700s, this one didn't last all day...or even 
for more than an hour.

Wonderful period music was played.
It is so nice hearing the musicians performing the old tunes, 
many of which are still known today.

And families abounded.
Four generations of this family reenact  
(with three generations present here)!
A Barb Baldinger Pic

I was very happy to have my wife join me, though she only came dressed in period clothing on Sunday:
My wife, Patty, did not come to the event wearing period clothing 
on Saturday, but she did decide to join in the time-travel fun on 
Sunday with me, which I always appreciate.  Fortunately,  her 
travels across the water on the sailing vessel was not too bad.
The tall ship you see on Lake St. Clair is from a little photo-shop fun I had.

Patty is a spinner and greatly enjoys her time in period clothing, 
spinning wool into yarn on her wheel.  The best part is she will 
then dye the wool with natural period-correct dyes and then make 
a hat, scarf, mittens, socks, or other items used for cold weather months.

After the afternoon sun shifted,  my wife then
moved under a shade tree and caught a nice
breeze off the water.
(A B&K Pic)

See the great-wheel / walking-wheel there?
That's where my tent is.

My view from the front of my campsite.
The flags are not French Voyageur flags, as you probably have 

guessed, but they are historical,  and since some of the Voyageurs 
were somewhat active during the Revolutionary War,  I felt it 
to be a good American history lesson.

Here are a few accessories I had on display:
a tin lantern with glass and a tin lantern with cow's horn,  a 

stoneware mug,  a betty lamp,  sugar nippers,  quill and ink,  a 
candle snuff,  period tableware,  and the handmade,  leather-bound 
book which I am filling with receipts and agricultural information 
written with said quill and ink.
Note my eating utensils:
nearly exact to what is used at the
1760 Daggett house inside historic
Greenfield Village (bottom pic)

Doing what I do best~
Isn't the book cool?
It is completely handmade, including the paper, so I decided to keep it as authentic as I can and will only write in it with quill and ink.

News from back east:  the War is still raging, but the colonists 
have declared independence!
A Lynn Anderson Pic

"Do you think we will get independence?"
"Not at the rate that we keep losing battles!"
A Richard Reaume Pic

Jackie has been working on a persona for her
18th century self.  Wait til next year - - 

(A Richard Reaume pic)

I've often been asked why Larissa,  and not my actual wife,  is my 
presentation partner.  You see,  though Patty loves to spin 
and knows plenty about the crafts of the era,  she simply does not 
care for getting up in front of people the way we do and talk.  It 
makes her as nervous as all get out and she prefers not to do it.  
So it's with her blessings that Larissa and I are able to do our 
presentations in the manner in which we do.
A Lynn Anderson Pic

2019 was our third year presenting about colonial farm life here at the Voyageur event,  and not only has our audience grown,  but we are getting repeat visitors to watch us! 
A B&K Pic

The Tin Kitchen~
We present twice at this two-day event, and each time is slightly 
different,  for there is so much to speak about that we could take 
an entire hour on pretty much each subject matter,  so we may 
talk a little on making candles during one presentation then 
making soap on the other,  just to keep it fresh and cover all bases.

For the first time, I brought out my bedwarmer.  After explaining 
its purpose to the audience, I then let them know how I came to 
purchase such an item:  I was looking for a chestnut roaster and 
the person behind the counter at the antique shop pointed to what 
am holding, which was hanging on the wall. I knew right off 
what it was, and it certainly was not  a chestnut roaster, so I 
purchased it immediately, especially since it had a $6.00 price tag!
By the way, a bed warmer was a common household item in countries with cold winters, including early America, and consisted of a metal container, usually fitted with a handle and shaped somewhat like a modern frying pan, with a solid or finely perforated lid.  The pan would be filled with hot coals and/or embers and placed under the covers of a bed to warm the sheets while moving it back and forth.
Now you know.

But we were not the only presenters at the event!
Jeff tells of everyday life as lived in 18th century Fort Detroit.
A Barb Baldinger Pic

He, too, has a wonderful collection of
accessories to help bring to life this 

wonderful piece of local history.
A Ben Despard Pic
I was not able to pull myself away from my camp to listen to Jeff's presentation like I normally do, which saddened me for he does such a fine delivery, and considering that it is centered in our area of Michigan, it makes it all the more interesting.

Horik was using my flax hackle as a guide to make a tinder bag to 
hold fire starting materials

Every year, reenactors  (and every-so-often, modern folk)  take a canoe ride out onto the lake.  I did it a few years ago, though I must say it was a bit of a rocky ride.
But pretty cool.
The ladies watch as passengers board the canoe.

The Saturday passengers load up.
An Anne Nicolazzo Pic

The Padre gave a blessing over the vessel before they paddled off.

I had heard they have been doing this ride for over thirty years - 
as long as the event has been going on.
An Anne Nicolazzo Pic

The location of the campsite is where the original Voyageurs of 
long ago had visited and, I believe, set up camp.  So to see this 
canoe with 18th century travelers inside was 
truly a scene from the past.

Another ride was planned for Sunday,  and my wife was hoping to go out this time with Larissa.  She was running a bit late but arrived just on time.
The travelers were preparing to board as my wife, nearly at a 
jackrabbit's pace, made it just in time.
A Shannon Warren Pic

There would be two rides this day - the good folk did a very special early venture for Patty and Larissa, as well as a few others.

The women would have to help paddle this time out.

Now this is an accessory to beat 'em all!
Doesn't this look great?

And how it looked for our travelers.
A Shannon Warren Pic

Young EJ went along as well.

Modern boaters stopped to speak to our period canoe-ers while 
out on the lake, for this is not something one sees everyday!

Patty told me afterward how much her arms and shoulders hurt 
from all the paddling she did.

I was there to greet my friend and my wife upon docking.

So, in case you did not know or hadn't heard, I purchased a musket earlier this year---a 1760 Gentleman's Fusil Musket
Having a  'fusil'  or smaller and lighter calibre musket was both more comfortable and was an excellent muzzleloader for hunting or target shooting.  A number of London gun makers catered to this market including Thomas Ketland.  Ketland started making flintlocks in 1760 and his business grew.  By the 1790s, Ketland expanded in order to take advantage of the export market.  Not only did British and American officers and civilian gentlemen demand his guns but also the North America's Native chiefs.
Here I am with my fusil.
This smooth-bore flintlock muzzleloader has a 36-inch tapered 

barrel with a .62 calibre bore.   The overall length is 52 1/2 
inches.  The barrel has engraved on it  "LONDON"  like most 
pieces manufactured by Kentland gunmakers in the 18th century.  
Now, the thing is, I've never fired it.
Yes, it's true.
~Pouring in the powder~
My friend Dave walked me through the steps,  

for my knowledge of period guns is slim.
I know...I probably surprised  (and maybe disappointed)  
a few of you, but, well, what can I say, right?  
I must say, it was very cool to pour the powder direct from the powder horn. 

~The ram rod~
*Just* a split-hair second before I pulled the trigger, 
the photo was take, so no smoke was captured.  But that's okay.
I got to fire my musket.

Larissa took the pictures of me with my gun, and she asked if she could fire it, for she had never fired a period gun ever in her life, so...
She, too, was able to go through the steps necessary
to fire the gun.

Settling the charge
As I learned from Dave and Joey,  this was not common practice for military.  Civilian loading was more thorough than military with a few extra steps to make sure each shot would be accurate:  they loaded from horns,  they would swab the barrel,  then powder,  patch,  settle the charge,  seat the ball,  pick the charge,  prime the pan,  then fire.
A split-second after firing:  no flames but I got the smoke!

And Larissa got a turkey!
It was promptly prepared and cooked by friend Joey.

Yeah...don't mess with her!

Dave and his friends had a display of 18th century musketry to show the visiting public as well as other interested reenactors.
A Barb Baldinger Pic

There were plenty of guns about the encampment,
including Richard's 
69 cal. smooth bore short barrel 
flint lock trade gun.

Joey had his 50 cal. Kentucky flintlock that he built from a kit.
A Richard Reaume Pic

Tom portrays an 18th century doctor, including a variety of medicines and tools that would have been used.  He even did a few period=procedures, such as blood-letting:
Larissa just was not feeling well, and could not
shake whatever it was she had.  So upon visiting
the good Dr., his diagnosis was she had tired blood
and needed to have that removed.
Here he looks for good veins.

A cut to the vein with a fleam to release the bad blood.
An early theory for bloodletting was that there were four main bodily humors:  blood,  phlegm,  black bile,  and yellow bile.  An imbalance in these humors was postulated as the need for bloodletting,  purging,  vomiting,  etc.   Virtually every known medical condition at one time or another was treated by these methods.  Bloodletting was used to treat everything from fever and madness to anemia and debility.  As one can imagine,  treating an anemic patient by removing even more blood was not the best of ideas.
The blood dripped into the pan.

Hmmm...seems Larissa had a touch of the vapors.

She passed out, but upon revival she was as good as
gold---better, in fact!

Friends a-visiting
A Sandy Krueger Pic

At the end of the first day, with the evening sky looming 
overhead, I took this photograph of Jackie.

Near the end of the second day, with the late afternoon sun 
shining on Lake St. Clair, I took this photograph of Jeff.
Until next time, 
see you in time.
An Anne Nicolazzo Pic

After each event I participate in, I always seem to think and say,  "This was the best ever!"  And each one really is in their own way.  This one with the Voyageurs is no different.  It truly is a best ever event;  I am able to have the opportunity to not only reenact, but to present  (twice!)  as a colonial farmer, which makes it that much more for me.  To teach about old-time farming practices of our ancestors - my direct bloodline/ancestors  (7th great grandparents)  have been in this country since 1710 and were Quaker farmers in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, so I suppose it is  sort of in my DNA   -  has been a pleasure and, to an extent, an honor, for I do consider the American farmer the great unsung hero in the forming of our great nation.

With that being said...

As you can see, there are quite a few photographs in this posting, many of which came from other photographers.  As protocol for me, I made sure to credit each, and I most certainly appreciate the allowance to use the pictures to accent the post.  If the picture has no name credit, that means it came from my own camera, either with me taking it or setting up a shot for a friend to take.
By the way, visit B&K Photography HERE

To learn more about colonial farming, click HERE
To learn a bit more about the Voyageurs, click HERE

~   ~   ~