Rendezvous at Grand Portage

This last weekend was Rendezvous at Grand Portage National Monument.  Rendezvous is similar to an anniversary celebration at other parks.  During Rendezvous we have 350 reenactors who come and live in canvas tents in the park.  We have lots of special events and huge crowds each day.

During the three days of Rendezvous Tom and I worked 33 hours each.  Friday was a 12 hour day, Saturday was 13 hours, and Sunday was 8.  We also worked our normal eight hours on Monday.  We are a little tired after a wild and wonderful weekend.

So many things went on over the weekend that I am going to be writing about it and sharing pictures with you all week.  The only problem – how to divide it up?  I am going to write today about Rendezvous in general, tomorrow about the Mist of Avalon, Thursday about the reenactors, and Friday about anything I didn’t cover in the other days.

Rendezvous was the two week period each summer, during the days when Grand Portage was a depot for the North West Company, that Grand Portage really came alive.  Most of the year it was a pretty quiet place with 15 Voyageurs and company clerks living among the Ojibwe who came and went.  But as soon as the ice broke on the rivers and lakes in Canada in the spring (sometime around the end of April or May) the canoe brigades would set out from Montreal bringing trade goods to Grand Portage.  And canoe brigades would set out from the 110 fur trading posts owned by the North West Company all over Canada and the northern US, bringing furs to Grand Portage.  It took them about two months and they would all arrive in Grand Portage around the end of June and the first couple of weeks of July.  Rendezvous was the time when everyone was here including the partners of the North West Company for their annual business meeting.

Over the weekend we had events that recreated many of the kinds of things that would have happened here during the time of Rendezvous.  We greeted the arrival of the partners with bagpipes and a grand arrival at the dock.  Ojibwe drummers and singers performed.  There were lacrosse games and other feats of strength.  We staged the partners meeting and watched them conduct business.  Reenactors took over the kitchen and there were usually 10 people running around preparing lots of food.  On Saturday night there was a Regale with dancing and food on the lawn in front of the Great Hall.  As we watched people dancing jigs and reels in their 1790’s outfits, it felt like we were watching something that was taking place 220 years ago.

In the midst of all of that, we had our jobs as rangers to do staffing the areas where we normally work as well as helping out with extra events.  Here are a few pictures to get you in the mood for the posts that will be coming the rest of the week.

Dale and Ellie ready to greet visitors
Kathy and Pam helping with set up
Tom cutting up fish in the Ojibwe Village
Some sailmakers
One of the partners preparing for the meeting
Two partners discussing business
Val and Johnny monitoring the kitchen and Great Hall
One of the kitchen cooks
Children playing tag
The Great Hall ready for business
It rained Saturday night
Dark skies over the stockade
Rainbow seen from the porch of the Great Hall
The band for the Regale
Walker and Deb guiding visitors
Johnny talking to guests in the Ojibwe Village
Rick snatching a quiet moment
Jeremy giving a bagpipe program
Partners and clerks waiting for the Grand Entrance
Voyageurs get the canoe in the water
Heading out to the staging point
Guests waiting for the Grand Arrival
The Grand Arrival
Ojibwe drummers and singers
The Dainty Voyageur
Timing the carrying of the water
A clerk in the Trade Shop
Lacrosse game
Ron smiling at the end of a long day
Volunteer Coordinator Beth and Park Superintendent Timothy Cochrane
Eastern National Sherry and her husband Ken
Visitors working on what they are learning
Blacksmithing demonstration
Jeremy, Rick, and Stephen confer