Load up your canoe and prepare to embark on an historical adventure! August 12th through the 14th marks the annual Rendezvous Days and Pow Wow at Grand Portage, Minnesota. Voyageur songs, Ojibwe drums, and Highland bagpipes mix as the Montreal canoe brigades, native peoples, fur traders, and North West Company partners gather for their annual rendezvous and traditional Ojibwe Pow Wow.
Come to Grand Portage National Monument and celebrate 100 Years of our national parks, considered by many to be “America’s Best Idea.” August 12th through the 14th marks the commemoration of Rendezvous Days and Pow Wow at Grand Portage, Minnesota. Voyageur songs, Ojibwe drums, and Highland bagpipes mix as the Montreal canoe brigades, native peoples, fur traders, and North West Company partners gather for their annual rendezvous and traditional Ojibwe Pow Wow.
In celebration of the 100th year of the U.S. National Park Service, the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and Grand Portage National Monument will welcome the tall ship, Mist of Avalon. The ship will arrive in time to drop anchor in picturesque Grand Portage Bay for our 2016 “Centennial Edition” of Rendezvous!
Superintendent Tim Cochrane recently spoke with the ship’s captain: “Captain Bolt and his crew are excited to be here to provide a stunning backdrop to Rendezvous & Pow Wow reminiscent of North West Company schooners that frequented Grand Portage Bay during the fur trade era.”
Mist of Avalon, named for the Celtic island of rebirth, is a fully rigged vessel in the tradition of late 19th century Grand Banks schooners: 100 feet long with a 20-foot beam, and carries 3,668 square feet of sail. Mist of Avalon has appeared in numerous feature films and documentaries in addition to being a star attraction at maritime festivals. She will set sail for the Tall Ship Festival in Duluth on Sunday, August 14.
Captain Don Szczech, of Grand Portage Isle Royale Transportation and his crew, captain Ben Silence and deckhand Paula Powell, will provide free rides aboard the Sea Hunter around the Grand Portage Bay to include an “up close” look at the Mist of Avalon on Saturday, August 13. The water depth of the bay is too shallow to permit the Mist of Avalon’s mooring at the monument’s dock, so she will have to anchor out near “Pete’s Island.” Due to U.S. Coast Guard regulations for ships at anchor, passengers on the Sea Hunter will not be allowed to board the Mist of Avalon. Sea Hunter Captain Don and crew will skillfully get their passengers as close as possible to the ship, and crew members from the Mist of Avalon will be aboard the Sea Hunter to greet passengers and share the “Mist’s” story. “Landlubbers” will find a grand view of the ship from shore and opportunities to learn about the North West Company’s maritime operations on the Great Lakes from members of “Western Lakes Station,” a maritime reenactment group that features a variety of 18th century maritime demonstrations and stories.
The boat tours for visitors will run hourly beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday with the last tour at 7 p.m. While the boat tour is free, a ticket is required and can be obtained at Grand Portage National Monument’s West Gate Information Tent. The tent will be located near the monument’s dock.
A few things to “know before you go” include: Every person, regardless of age, needs a free ticket; rubber soled shoes are required; no glass bottles, alcohol, or food will be allowed on board, and strollers cannot be safely accommodated; children under the age of 16 need to be accompanied by a responsible adult. Additionally, private watercraft of any type must not approach the Mist of Avalon from any direction, and are asked to please remain at least 50 yards from the ship at all times. Privately owned watercraft should not attempt to tie up at the monument’s dock, as vessels on official duty will be mooring there for the duration of the event.
Superintendent Cochrane and his staff would like to acknowledge and thank tribal chairman Norman Deschampe and the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa for hosting the Mist of Avalon’s visit. “We are honored to work with the Grand Portage Band every single day to showcase what we truly believe to be one of the finest units in our national park system, but especially so in this centennial year, as we celebrate the monument and what it means to our community and all who visit here,” said Cochrane.”
“We are also pleased to partner with Captain Don Szczech and Grand Portage Isle Royale Transportation and want to publicly thank Don and his crew for providing community members and event visitors with tours of Grand Portage Bay.”
The Mist of Avalon will make a wonderful backdrop to all the traditional favorites of Rendezvous including music, puppet shows, historical demonstrations, and games of skill. Watch and learn about traditional lacrosse and cheer on your favorite team in a live lacrosse match, join us for a music jam 18th century-style on the front lawn of the Great Hall, and participate in workshops on French spool knitting, Scottish music and haggis making, turning a sailor’s fid, and hear stories and songs of the voyageurs. Learn about the daily lives of Ojibwe people, French voyageurs, and the European partners of the famed British North West Company.
Other special activities at Rendezvous this year include Musicians Kelly and Ray James and other talented musicians in our 18th Century Music Jam. These professional musicians mix it up and entertain all with a wide variety of music to echo the very tunes their predecessors played to regale those attending Rendezvous in the 1790s. On Saturday afternoon and evening, the North Shore’s own musical powerhouse, “Over the Waterfall,” will play tunes for all to dance to under the summer moon over Grand Portage Bay. Come dance and enjoy the music!
In addition to the music, demonstrations and contests, you can visit with nationally renowned historic firearms expert Mark Sage and distinguished miniature portrait artist Kelly James. Event favorites, back again this year, include tinsmiths, blacksmiths, and spring pole lathe craftsmen.
Explore a reconstructed 1790s fur trade depot and our historic voyageurs’ encampment. Try your hand at making cornhusk dolls and voyageur action figures, fire starting with flint and steel, and watch as the roughest men of the Old Northwest and the daintiest of ladies compete in a Voyageur pentathlon. Come test your throwing arm in our “Throw the Dough” contest.
The event is open to the general public, with a scavenger hunt, a bead hunt, and a story telling especially for youngsters. National Monument rangers and costumed historical re-enactors help bring history alive in this fun-filled weekend event. This event is free and open to everyone.
The Ojibwe Pow Wow is hosted by the Grand Portage band, and includes traditional food, music, craft stands, softball tournament, a turkey shoot, races, and much more.
This is the weekend to be in Grand Portage -- please join us!
For more information on the Rendezvous, contact Grand Portage National Monument at (218) 475-0123. You can also visit us on the web at www.nps.gov/grpo
Historical re-enactors wishing to encamp at the Monument and participate in the Rendezvous must be pre-registered.