The Birch Bark Canoe
Birch bark canoes have been a part of the fabric of Canada dating back 500 years to the greeting of Cabot at Bonavista by 50 canoes of the Mi’kmaq, and then 100 canoes of the Huron and Iroquois leading Cartier to Hochelaga.
By the mid-1600s, courier de bois and voyageurs trading out of the walled fortress cities of Quebec and Montreal had paddled their way to trade on the Ottawa, French, and Winnipeg rivers, as well as the Ohio, Mississipi and Missouri.
The canots du nord of the winterers were meeting the great supply canoes, les canos du maitre, in a great Rendezvous at Grand Portage by the late 1700s. After the war of 1812, the great Rendezvous Depot was reconstructed on the Kaministiqua River at Thunder Bay on the Canadian side of David Thompson’s new survey.
The 1967 Rendezvous and Canoe Race
Our Rendezvous history dates back 50 years to Canada’s Centennial year. A canoe race in the tradition of the competition of the fur brigades was staged to coincide with celebrations across Canada from Rocky Mountain House to Montreal.
Our race and Rendezvous grew out of the Gold Rush Canoe Derby at the Flin Flon Trout Festival. A small group of enthusiasts proposed a two-man canoe race from Edmonton to Montreal. The idea grew into a race for north canes with six paddlers, representing each province and territory.
Trial races across Ontario in 1965 and from Montreal to New York City and from Fort St. James to Victoria in 1966 preceded our race to Expo ’67. Our epic 5,250 kilometre race in 1967 recreated the excitement of the brigades of old, and began a tradition of races, brigades and Rendezvous’ for north canoes and Canadians across our country from coast to coast.
2017 Voyageurs Rendezvous Canoe Race
We invite you to rendezvous with us in 2017 to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday in voyageur style. We have an itinerary of events of interest to all Canadians, including daily entertainment, sightseeing tours, barbecues and breakfasts, dances, receptions, First Nations games, and a banquet and Voyageurs’ Ball. Three canoe events for both casual and serious paddlers will provide excitement and atmosphere as our community and the staff at the Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site roll out the welcome mat for you.
You will see the start of the Rupertsland Express, otherwise known as the 2017 Voyageurs Rendezvous Canoe Race, a 1,600 kilometre race to The Pas, Manitoba and will be able to follow their progress across the country by media or the Internet.
Philatelic collectors rejoice
Philatelic collectors and Canadians will have an opportunity to actively participate in the race this year. A special issue postage stamp for Voyageurs Rendezvous 2017 will be issued and post-marked envelopes with a certificate of authenticity may be purchased to be carried by canoe from Rocky Mountain House across Rupertsland to be mailed to the purchase from The Pas. The certificate with artwork will certify that the envelope was carried by canoe from Rocky Mountain House to The Pas in celebration of Canada’s 150 anniversary of Confederation.