MNO Leadership at the Great Rendezvous: 50th Anniversary of Fort William Historical Park brings history to life

Hundreds of visitors and historic reenactors from across North America gathered at Fort William Historical Park in Thunder Bay to participate in an immersive re-enactment of the Great Rendezvous in 1816. From July 8 to 16, the Rendezvous brought history to life by taking visitors back to the vibrant fur trade era through hands-on workshops, demonstrations, music, dancing and traditional hospitality.

“A Rendezvous gives us an opportunity to celebrate the extraordinary richness of our Métis heritage and resilience of our communities and cultures,” shared Provisional Council of the Métis Nation of Ontario (PCMNO) Vice Chair Sharon Cadeau, who spoke on behalf of the MNO alongside other distinguished leadership.

“These gatherings provide the opportunity to embrace the tapestry of stories and skills, that make up our shared identity and traditions. The Métis played such an integral role in the fur trade and the communities that arose out of it stretching from the Great Lakes to the Athabasca-Mackenzie.”

Representatives from the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) also included PCMNO Region 2 Councillor Tim Sinclair and MNO Thunder Bay Councillor Tashya Orasi.

“The Métis people, and particularly the Lake Superior (Sault Ste. Marie/Nipigon/Fort William) communities played a significant role in the growth and development of many trading sites that emerged around the Great Lakes and beyond,” says Tim. “Historically, sites like Fort William provided a gathering space where Métis could share their unique traditions and culture, and this year’s Great Rendezvous is a celebration and tribute to this rich heritage.

A grand canoe arrival took place Saturday afternoon as delegates and leadership paddled the Kaministiquia River, landing outside the main gate to a cheering crowd and the firing of muskets. After disembarking, the party proceeded to the main square’s Great Hall for the unveiling of a new commemorative plaque and remarks from special guests, including the Hounourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.

Inspired by the North West Company’s inland headquarters, the Fort provides a snapshot into life at the height of the fur trade while celebrating the contributions of the many diverse interconnected communities that made it possible. Fort William Historical Park has constructed and maintains over 40 unique historical spaces, including Métis, Anishinaabe, and voyageur encampments, a fully outfitted canoe crafting shed, a working farm, tradesmen’s houses and many other meticulously recrafted structures.

Marsii to all involved in making Fort William’s 50th Anniversary celebration a truly meaningful and memorable event!