Thank You Members of Friends of the Fort George/Buckingham House for a very successfull 1993!
This summer at Fort George/Buckingham House Interpretive Centre, we had our second year of operations and first year of admissions to the site. Just under 5000 people enjoyed the beauty of the North Saskatchewan River and the programs offered at the Centre. This newsletter is fill of reports to let you know just what happened over the summer.
Small, Maybe lmpressive, for sure'
- by Jeanne May
Twenty consignors, all with there own special talents, kept the gift shop well stocked with varied treasures for visitors looking for that special some-thing to take home. There were books for those hungry for knowledge on history and nature. There was beadwork, spoons, pins, and a variety of pottery and handcrafted items. The home made eatmorebars, preserves and sweets were also available and very popular.
The only scarcity were volunteers to operate the gift shop. This necessitated the hiring of two students who shared the seven day week. Fay Drobot and Nicole Piesinger proved to be very capable workers. Thanks girls for your efforts and dedication. Much to the disappointment of the Gift Shop committee the STEP program application was unsuccessful. A contract was signed with Historic Sites to collect the admissions (for which a fee was paid). Unfortunately this fee was not enough to cover wages and this ate into our profits. The Elk Point Historical Society generously provided financial aid. A sincere thank you to them!
The next meeting of the Gift Shop committee will be one of honest figuring as to weather the volunteer hours and financial expenses merit the pride of having a gift shop.
The committee extends a note of gratitude to the consignors, volunteers and those who supported the shop with their purchases.
As of July 26, 1993 the Friends of the Forts have their own society access number. The official name is now FRIENDS OF THE FORTS - FORT GEORGE BUCKINGHAM HOUSE SOCIETY. Thanks again to the Elk Point Historical Society who got the centre and the friends started, and who have also been wonderful support for a fledging organization.
A reminder that all cheques for memberships, donations, and purchases must be written to: Friends of the Forts.
The Hudson Bay Blanket Raffle
-by Sheila Thompson
The first Hudson's Bay Point Blankets were ordered in 1779 when an order was put in for "a hundred pairs each of five sorts of sorted blankets." These blankets were designed for the rugged outdoor use and protection of the trappers and hunters. They did not shrink when used in the out of doors. The nap of the weave made it water resistant and warm. The off white colour blended in with the winter hunting conditions. The stripe was used as a marketing ploy for the natives. The colours were sacred to the native population and provided spiritual protection as well as protection from the elements.
The "points" marked the blankets with small lines about 5 inches in length. There used to describe, at a glance, the size and proportionate weight of the blanket. The start 1, 1 Â½ and went up to 4 points. The six point blanket is a modern blanket to match our queen sized beds. For further reference, see the article in the December 1926 issue of Beaver titled "Hudson's Bay 'Point' Blankets."
A queen sized Hudson's Bay Blanket was the grand prize for our summer raffle. The winner was Jeann Waskewitch of Lac La Biche. Second prize, a Creeations rug donated by Irene Magnusson, went to Bill Currey of Elk Point. Third prize was a fish scale art hanging made and donated by Dorothy Malinowski. It was won by Ram Frisbey of Elk Point. Our raffle showed a profit of $475.77 which will be used to erhance programming at the interpretive centre. Thank you to every one who purchased a ticket.
Gathering of the Clans
- by Louise Crane
Due to the success of the two weeks we had this summer with the GATHERING OF TITE CLANS program, we have decided to repeat the program in 1994. We have also taken a lead in the INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF THE FAMILY and expanded it to include the whole month of August. The details of our programs will be written up in the Spring issue of the Striker but it is hoped that Highland's Games 'will be included in the Heritage Day celebrations.
One other confirmed highlight is the M'Gillivray Family reunion July30 and 31, 1994. The last two years we have hosted two successful reunions for Hudson's Bay families Fidlers, Spence and Flett. Next year it is time for a North West Company family.
Duncan M'Gillivray was chosen as he wrote a wonderful Journal about his trip from Grand Portage in the summer of 1794 and his stay that winter at Fort George. This man provided wonderful insight on the fur trade life and is quoted by many fur trade historians.
When Duncan arrived in September of 1794 he noted that the men of Buckingham House had just spent six weeks under the protection of Fort George because of the fear of the Gens du Large who seemed to be on the war path. He also noted that his arrival with the trade goods started the season with a dance, followed by races and interspersed with hunting parties and trading. Keep that in mind at our 1994 Rendezvous on September 10th.
If you know of anyone one with the names of MacGillivray or McGillivray, please have them contact us at the Interpretive Centre.
Visitor Comments and Suggestions
The following are a few suggestions that have come forward from the comments written in the guest book. They were noted from visitors from all over the world.
- Like to see reconstruction
- please make it more accessible for wheelchairs
- please carry more site souvenirs in gift shop
-BEST HANDS ON HISTORIC SITE
-bring in a travelling exhibit like your Trapline/lifeline every year
- please put on more interpretive demonstrations
- nice facility and wonderful staff
- river landing should be marked!
Most comments were most complimentary. We can be very proud of the progress of the 1993 summer programs and events.
FUR TRADE ENTHUSIASTS - Everett Losey of Germfask, Michigan (right) is a longtime fur trade enthusiast who, along with his wife, extended their stay in the Elk Point area an extra day to help with the ground markings. Here he drills holes for the anchor posts while Pat Johnson holds the posts steady. Things would no doubt have gone much faster during the original fort building if the Nor'Westers had had today's portable generators and power tools.
Be a Friend:
My tax-deductible donation to the Friends of the Forts will give me for 1994
Corporate Membership $50
Single Membership $ lO.
For. Name ____________________________________________
Address. The Friends of the Forts
City/Town Fort George Buckigham House
Telephone () Box 358
Elk Pomt, AB, T0A lA0
Do you want your donation for & specific project? (403) 724-2611 Fax: (403) 724 2003
If so what? ______________________________
CANOE CHALLENGE CHAMPIONS - Looking back to Heritage Day weekend, here are the winners of the Great Canoe Challenge. Ian Mackenzie of Edmonton, his son Matthew and Sandy Wishart of Can-more were presented with their trophy plaque by Fort George - Buckingham House Director of Visitor Services Louise Crane.
Did you miss the Fall Rendezvous?
- By Elsie Tillie
It was a great success. So, for those who missed our luncheon, here is the menu to tease you palate:
Roast Buffalo on Sour dough bread meatballs
bannock and wild preserves cranberries and blueberries Labrador Tea and
wild cranberry punch
Shannon and Tarumy Tillie catered the Rendezvous based on the following information to provide the visitors with a sample of fur trade fare.
Buffalo meat abounded at the Forts in 1793. FortGeorge was used as a supply depot for the provisions sent with the voyageurs. Pemmican was the fast food of the day. It was made with pounded dry meat mixed with marrow and for special ceremonies mixed also with berries. Without refrigeration pemmican was easy to transport, nourishing, and kept for a long time. The buffalo meat we served came from INN AT THE RANCH near Smoky Lake Alberta.
The Sourdough bread, made from a special sourdough starter, can be kept by
the cooks for an indefinite time. Our bread was made with whole wheat flour and has somewhat a different, heavier taste than the bread we are used to.
Corn bread was a basic Native food in eastern Canada. As well as home grown corn the other ingredients were honey from wild bee hives and eggs gathered from wild birds. The cornbread that was served at the centre was basically made from the same ingredients only we had the convenience of shopping at a local store.
Bannock was adopted by the natives from the early Scottish fur traders. We served it baked and deep fried with berry preserves.
Meatballs were served made out of deer and moose meat. Today we consider hunting a sport and not life and death as it would have been in 1793.
Fish was a staple for the Natives and traders alike. The fish for Buckingham House and Fort George in 1793 came from a Frog Lake fishing camp. The women would smoke dry the fish or pickle the fish in salt brine. Our fish came from a lake near by and was very tasty.
Wild berries were found all over the country. This year they abounded at Fort George/Buckingham House. The berries are full of vitamins and were used to fight the scarcity of sugar. Dried fruits, such as apples, prunes and raisins were brought in from Europe.
Coffee and tea were also shipped out to trade with the Natives, but it took so long and the trip was so rugged that they seldom had much left to trade. Labrador tea was picked and dried for everyone's enjoyment and settled many an upset tummy. It is also full of vitamin C. Our tea was picked near Moose Lake near the site of Angus Shaw's early Fort.
I hope we have wet your appetite and will join us next season to sample more of the fur trade fare at Fort George Buckingham House.
Buckingham House is Now a NATIONAL Monument Site!
The Historic site and Monuments Board of Canada chose Buckingham House as a site to place a plaque to honour William Tomison. It reads:
A dominant figure in the western fur trade for more than 39 years, the Orkneyman William Tomison joined the Hudson's Bay Company as a labourer in 1760; and seven years later became one of the company's first inland travellers from York Factory. In 1778.he took charge of Cumberland House.
As "inland master" from 1786 to 1803 he lead the competition against the North West Company along the Saskatchewan. He was responsible for establishing Buckingham House(1792) and Edmonton House(1795), each his company's most westerly post of its day. Tomison retired to Orkney in 1811.
What Are Friends For?
"Providing diverse opportunities for people to learn, grow and enjoy themselves through the conservation, interpretation and experience of the fur trade history."
Friends accomplishments for 1994 season:
Site enhancement at Fort George-the footmarks of the building and palisade of 1794 were demarked on the August 28th weekend. Under the guidance of Historic sites expert, David Koshman, twenty two Friends showed up to hammer, saw and lay the logs. It was a most enjoyable weekend of sharing.
Running the Gift Shop-The committee made a wonderful job of offering a service to the many visitors. We had many visitors arrive just to shop!
Paid-for ads and promotion - Without this help, our site programs would not have been successful as they were. The special events had lower anendauce but better next year!
Paid for Homer Poitras and his wonderful fiddle music! What is a Fort event without toe tapping jigs? Peggy (Fidler) Zaraska has become the resident jigger. Thanks to you both.
Organized the Spence/Flett family reunion - This was done by Shirley Wishait who lives in Calgary but has been a most active Friend. Thank you Shirley. Your reunion brought us 100 guests to help celebrate Heritage Days with participants in the Canoe races and Buffalo Chip contest.
At the Font George Buckingham House Historic site, we know where the Friends' help will be needed in 1994.
1) help in advertising by applying for financial aid with Team Tourism.
2) maintaining the Gift Shop for fund raising a providing a service to the visitors
3) Volunteer help through the Ambassador program
4) Start evaluation questionaires at special events to determine the future course of actions, effectiveness, etc.
5) The Friends have undertaken the payment of event entertainers, without which many talented individuals we have had on site could not have attended. Financial aid in this area is essential.
6) The following event elements would depend on Friends input:
Concessions, security, promotion, and participation.
7) Volunteer participation in site enhancement projects - such as site markings at the Forts, tree trimming on east and west views, river landing signs.
8) Fund raising for corporate donations and memorials - (goal yet to be established, approx $100,000.00)
The staff of Fort George Buckingham House Interpretive Centre thanks all the friends who participated and supported the many activities over the summer. We look forward to working with them in the following season.