Saturday, January 28, 2017

A Day With the Lac Ste. Claire Voyageurs

I had intended to 'publish' this posting last June (2016), soon after this event took place.
I am not exactly sure why I didn't - maybe because I was preparing for our Colonial Williamsburg trip - but I just this morning rediscovered it, sitting silently as a 'draft.'
So, since January and February can be slow months in the reenacting world in Michigan, I figured now would be a good time to look back as we prepare for the coming year...

Only one week after spending three full days in period clothing (1860s) while in the sweltering humid 90 degree heat at one reenactment (Greenfield Village's Civil War Remembrance), here I am again at another, only this day was much cooler (80-ish) and less humid.
And a lot more relaxed.
When I am able, I try to reenact with a group known as the Lac Ste. Claire Voyageurs, folks who do an excellent job at replicating Great Lakes fur traders, missionaries, and explorers that came to the Great Lakes area in the early 1600s and remained through the early part of the 19th century.
The Voyageurs befriended, learned from and intermarried with the local Indians who were already here when they arrived. In our general area of Michigan, they built earthen huts and farmed "strip farms," which were long pieces of land beginning at the narrow end near the lake and extended inland for about a half mile with a width of about 500 feet. In this way they were able to take full advantage of the natural waterways of the Detroit and St. Clair Rivers as well as Lake St. Clair itself.
The Voyageurs were also known for buying, selling and trading animal fur and pelts.
This event was a bit smaller than usual for the group, but those who participated did certainly have a great time and showed the visiting public a view of the past not seen too often outside of the Great Lakes region.
Then there's who pretty much portrays an easterner...a colonial from Boston...who doesn't necessarily fit in with the fashions or lifestyle of the Voyageurs, though I do fit roughly in the same time period.
Why do I not portray the people of my area?
Although I love seeing the reenactments and hearing the history, my personal 18th century interest lies on the east coast.
But it doesn't mean I do not care for the history of my area - - - - - - 
Upon arriving that morning, I found Ross & Jeri busy
at the griddle making wafers.

Ross was a blacksmith when he used to work at Greenfield
Village a number of years ago. It would not surprise me
if he made what you see here!

Carolyn made the cream to go on top of the wafers.

Cream - and it was delicious.

Wafers and cream - what a treat!

Carolyn, like me, is a long-time Civil War reenactor. But
the two of us began our foray into an earlier century
right around the same time. In fact, our "coming out" 
was on the same day:
Here we are, myself, Carolyn, and our friend Lynn on April 18, 2014.
For Carolyn and I, this was our first outing as colonials, though Lynn has done the period for a number of years.

One of the things I really enjoy about the Voyageurs are
the period crafts they keep alive, such as broom making.

Corn bristles ready to become a part of a broom.

And then to watch as he puts it all together to create
this all so important 'simple machine' in the same
manner as those who have gone on long before.

I enjoy seeing these ancient crafts being kept alive,
and I have such an admiration for the folks that do,
including my wife who spins wool into yarn on 
her spinning wheel:

Next up we see someone weaving a bag on a...
hmmm...I am assuming this is a hand-loom of some sort.

But I certainly enjoyed watching and listening as she 
explained the fascinating process in bag making.
Now, when you balk at a price upon purchasing a
hand-made item, think of all the knowledge and actual
time and work that goes into these replicated artifacts of history.

~A Voyageur and a Colonial~
My friend, Jerry (in the picture with me), and his wife, Micki, (in photo below) have been reenacting as Voyageurs for decades. 
And, in ways they may not have even realized, they 
helped me find my way back to the 18th century.
The Lac Ste. Claire Voyageurs are a most welcoming group of living historians, and I appreciate the fact that they will allow this "Bostonian" to take part in their reenactments and add a little bit of the more well-known American history that was occurring at the same time. It helps to give a more well-rounded education.
If you are interested, please check out my posting about a much larger Voyageur reenactment that I took part in right HERE

Until next time, see you in time...


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