MNO Voyageurs in Batchawana Bay

Original article from Soo Today

It was a beautiful sunny Batchawana-01MNO Canoe Expedition arrival at Batchawana Bay on July 16. Wednesday afternoon; waiting on the beach was a large crowd of eager locals and just off shore, local paddlers from the Batchawana Brigade of the Voyageurs’ Lodge were awaiting the arrival of the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) Canoe Expedition at Batchawana Bay on July 16.

Batchawana Bay is a small bay on the eastern shore of Lake Superior, just 50 kilometers from Sault Ste. Marie. It is situated just south of Mica Bay. Mica Bay is where the First Nations and Métis exercised their rights to protect their lands Batchawana-02MNO Canoe Expedition with the Batachawana Brigade. which led to the Mica Bay Incident and the Robinsons Treaties. Batchawana Bay was also an important fishing site for the Ojibwe, and later became a North West Company Post. The Hudson’s Bay Company kept an outpost and fishing station at the mouth of the Batchawana River from 1824-1894, which flows into the bay.

Once the MNO Canoe Expedition was spotted, the local re-enactors paddled out to meet the modern day Métis voyaguers. The MNO Canoe Expedition provided a traditional Métis salute to the fellow paddlers, and then blew past to shore.
“It was a really cool experience for us as we haven’t seen any other Voyageur canoes in the 1200+ kilometers that we`ve covered so far,” said MNO Canoe Expedition paddler Josh Szajewski.

A Scottish bagpiper piped in the expedition crew with a large crowd waiting on shore to welcome them. After the Métis paddlers conducted a question and answer segment on shore, they headed up to the Voyageurs' Lodge for a ceremonial campfire lit with flint and steel by local Dan Bisson.

Local resident, Bob Moore gave a heartwarming blessing, and then one and all enjoyed a delicious feast of fresh whitefish, baked beans, bannock biscuits and homemade blueberry pie around the campfire.

The feast was followed by music and dancing. Paddlers from the Batchawana Brigade brought out a mandolin, accordion, guitar.  Métis fiddler Emily Ingram joined the Batchawana Brigade with her traditional Métis tunes and the rest of the evening was music, song, and Voyageur games.

The MNO Canoe Expedition would like to thank the Voyageurs’ Lodge and the Batchawana Brigade for their kind hospitality.

“The owner of the lodge, Frank O`Connor, has been absolutely fantastic to us,” stated Szajewski. “Its people like Frank that really make this trip amazing for us. We can`t thank them enough for their generosity!”

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