You arrive at the encampment where you make your mark on your contract. It is now 1690 and you are embarking on a journey reminiscent of one’s taken by thousands of men (mostly French Canadians) known as the Voyageurs (or travelers). In the front of the 34 foot canoe is the Avant who is the eyes and guide of the crew. In the back is the Gouvemail who steers following the promptings of the Avant. You are seated between them and act as the propulsion.
For a little over an hour you paddle, sing French Canadian songs made famous by the crews and listen to stories and history as told by the Avant and Gouvemail.
These were a hard breed of men, capable of paddling fourteen hours a day, carrying anywhere from two to eight bundles weighing 90 lbs. a piece over rough terrain portage trails. Their diet consisted of dried beans or peas, salt pork and pemmican (a mixture of animal fat, chopped up dried meat and sometimes dried fruit).
You are also taught of the importance of the fur trade and how it opened up the frontiers for further exploration and settling. Having fulfilled your contract, you return to camp for a sample of split pea soup and an introduction to various games and skills used by the Voyageurs.
This is the 18th season for the Cleveland Metroparks Voyageur Canoe Paddle. It is a fascinating way for your family to learn living history by participating in the actual event in hands on fashion (no… you are not required to lug 90 lb. bundles over a portage trail). Give it a try and I am sure that you agree that it is well worth a five out of five stars grade.
The following dates are open for this summer’s program:
June 16 & 17
September 8, 9 & 30
October 6, 7 & 13
Full Moon Paddles
August 2 & 31
Millstream Run Reservation, Berea
August 4 & 5
Shove off times are 11:00 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. for day paddle programs. Full Moon programs are 6:00 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.
The canoe holds up to 18 people. Church and Scout groups are welcomed. Life Jackets and Paddles are provided as well as educational fun and a safe environment.
All Voyageur Canoe Paddle programs require registration. You can register by calling 440-786-8530. Each program costs $5.00 per person.
Venez faire votre marque et joindre à l’équipage des Voyageurs. Il appartient à l’histoire dans la fabrication pour vous et votre famille.
Come make your mark and join the crew of the Voyageurs. It is history in the making for you and your family.