July 22, 2019

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Festival du Voyageur survival guide

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/2/2011 (3074 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

It was a bit nippy and snowy Saturday, but the first full day of Festival du Voyageur brought big crowds. The music tents were standing-room-only, there was a steady lineup for pea soup and the historic parts of Fort Gibraltar were a squeeze. Manitoba's celebration of its aboriginal, French and Métis heritage is in full swing.

FIRST STOP

That's Voyageur Park around Fort Gibraltar at Whittier Park. Admission to the main site is $13 but much of the good stuff is there -- the food, music, beer and history. And snow sculptures, especially the rather intricate one by some American carvers of three huge knights.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/2/2011 (3074 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Festival du Voyageur tour guides (from left) Melissa Therrien, Dylan Preece, Chloe Ross-Rogerson and Kimberley Peters entertain onlookers as they dance and have a little fun Saturday afternoon.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Festival du Voyageur tour guides (from left) Melissa Therrien, Dylan Preece, Chloe Ross-Rogerson and Kimberley Peters entertain onlookers as they dance and have a little fun Saturday afternoon.

It was a bit nippy and snowy Saturday, but the first full day of Festival du Voyageur brought big crowds. The music tents were standing-room-only, there was a steady lineup for pea soup and the historic parts of Fort Gibraltar were a squeeze. Manitoba's celebration of its aboriginal, French and Métis heritage is in full swing.

 

FIRST STOP

That's Voyageur Park around Fort Gibraltar at Whittier Park. Admission to the main site is $13 but much of the good stuff is there — the food, music, beer and history. And snow sculptures, especially the rather intricate one by some American carvers of three huge knights.

SHOP

There's a tent full of artisans selling jewelry, Indian shawls, wall hangings and even Atomic Heat Pads to stuff down your coat to keep warm. The coolest booth might belong to Carol James and her colourful voyageur-type sashes, some of which take 300 hours to make. You can also get fur hats and official Festival merchandise, like those floppy cone-shaped tuques.

 


You could stick with your basic mini-doughnuts and burgers, but the Franco-Manitoban foods are where it's at. There's pea soup, meat pies, poutine and crepes with maple syrup. In the Cabane à Sucre, don't miss the taffy trough, where you can roll up blobs of thickened maple syrup on a stick. It's crowded in there — like an Oktoberfest tent — so watch out for kids waving sticky taffy sticks around.

 

DRINK

Whether you have a quick beer with your tourtière in the all-ages Cabane a Sucre or settle in for a few with friends at the Snow Bar, you'll probably want to try the red-canned Fort Gibraltar lager, the official Fort Garry beer of the festival.

There's also Caribou, red wine fortified with whiskey and maple syrup. It tastes like very boozy vino. At the Snow Bar, you can get your drink in a square glass made of ice — worth the extra $1.50.

If the site's too crowded, there are nightly events at bars along Provencher Boulevard like Le Garage. And, when in doubt, pop into Club St. B to hang with the locals.

 

LEARN

Festival is about more than pea soup and snow sculptures. Learn about the fur traders and aboriginal peoples and what life was like in the early days of the province. The best place to get smart is inside the wooden walls of Fort Gibraltar, where costumed interpreters can tell you all about the history. Check out the working blacksmith's shop or tromp up to the second floor of the main Maison du Bourgeois for displays. Or take a guided tour of the fort, offered every hour.

 

LISTEN

Most nights, hip musical artists like Sons of York, Inward Eye, Tracy Bone, Keith & Renee and many others fan out over several stages at the site, down Provencher Avenue and beyond. The venues feel like indoor Folk Festival side-stages — warm, communal and crowded. They were hopping on Saturday afternoon, so they'll be jammed in the evenings. Also look out for fiddling and jigging contests and comedy nights.

 

SKATE

Only part of the River Trail skating route is open, from The Forks south to Churchill Drive. It doesn't yet stretch up to the Festival site at Whittier Park, but the trail is so closely associated with Festival it bears mention.

 

DRESS WARM

That means function over fashion — long johns, warm boots and the requisite Festival tuque. But there are so many tents and they are kept plenty warm, so you are never far from a respite from the cold.

 

ACT FAST

Festival ends in a week, Feb. 27. And the main site is closed on Tuesday and Wednesday, though the other venues have events.

 

MORE INFORMATION

Maps, schedules, menus and much more are available at www.festivalvoyageur.mb.ca

 

— Mary Agnes Welch

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