Fiddlers, native drummers, dog sleds and Métis jiggers provided the sights and sounds for the Canada 150 Voyageurs Rendezvous and Métis Homecoming on Saturday.
Held at the Rocky Mountain House Historic Site, hundreds stopped by to take in the events that ran over two days.
It is the first event ahead of the Confluence Heritage Society-organized canoe race that will begin on Canada Day in Rocky Mountain House and end in The Pas, Man. three weeks later. It is a scaled-down version of a centennial-celebrating 5,283-km race from Rocky to the site of Expo ‘67 in Montreal.
Confluence Society special events co-ordinator Adele Poratto said there will be a number of canoe events this summer.
“That’s what this is all about. Celebrating Canada 150 and the rich heritage of the voyageurs.”
In June, a fur trade paddling school will see students across the country learning the art of dipping an oar and water safety. A four-day, 120-km paddling event from the Kootenay Plains to Rocky Mountain House and voyageur whitewater canoe race are also planned for that month.
It all leads up to the departure of canoe teams for the big race on July 1.
“They’re going to be portaging, they’re going to be tenting and they’re going to need your encouragement to clap and cheer and wave them on,” said Poratto, during Saturday’s opening ceremonies.
One of the biggest draws for the youngsters on Saturday was the dogsled demonstration. Children were lined up to ride the sled behind a yapping team of sled dogs.
“I liked it,” said Ruth Schenk, 7, after her turn.
“This was a totally new experience,” said her mother Julie Schenk, who lives north of Edmonton and was in the area visiting family.
The event went over well with her family.
“It’s awesome. Beautiful weather and lots of things for the kids to do.”
Connie Marsden and husband Eric brought their dogsled teams all the way from Revelstoke, B.C. to show what their four-legged athletes can do.
The couple own Revelstoke Dogsled Adventures and have been training and racing dogsleds since 2009.
“It’s been pretty busy,” she said as a line of children waiting their turn on the dogsled grew behind her.
The conditions were almost too warm.
“There’s not much snow coverage. But with two dogs it’s totally do-able.”
Asked what she likes about dogsledding, she doesn’t hesitate.
“Everything. It’s a lifestyle,” she said.