The spirit of the voyageur is alive and well at Festival du Voyageur

Posted February 20, 2017

The spirit of the voyageur endures at Festival du Voyageur, the largest winter festival in Western Canada. Here are 8 ways to tap into your inner voyageur at this Western Canada's largest winter festival…

Dress the part

What does a voyageur wear? While the traditional garb can be seen on interpreters throughout Voyageur Park, most visitors opt for a combination of a few key elements. Adorn your waist with a ceinture fléchée, pop a red toque on your head and bundle up in plaid flannel. Once you’re in character, snap a selfie and say Hé Ho for the camera!

A family of four is dressed in traditional voyageur garb and 19th century fur trade winter clothing

Roll maple taffy

Don’t worry – there's always more than enough snow for the voyageur’s favourite sugar treat: maple taffy. Enter the Cabane à Sucre to take your turn rolling taffy onto a stick and enjoying the sticky, sugary goodness that follows.

Take a shot of Caribou

It might shock you to know that the origins of Caribou go back to hunters and trappers who drank caribou blood mixed with alcohol as a way to deal with cold weather. Rest assure that at Festival du Voyageur, there is not a single drop of blood in the Caribou, which you can purchase in an ice glass at the Snow Bar.

Join into Voyageur Games

The legendary Voyageur Games are a highlight each festival, hosted at the off-site Marion Hotel. Games include leg wrestling, voyageur wrestling, pillow fights, tug of war and log sawing. A shuttle is conveniently available to and from the Marion Hotel to the festival site.

festival du voyageur dancing manitoba

Jig along

Asides from the perennial Jigging Contest and the Fiddling Contest there are plenty of opportunities to dance at Festival du Voyageur, especially after loosening up a bit with the help of Caribou. Check the artist schedule prior to your visit to determine which tents should be your priority, and for best success, arrive early to ensure entry.

Take a step back in time

When it comes to the fur trade, the voyageurs owe much of their success to the Indigenous communities who inhabited the area around the Red River. Be sure to check out some of the Indigenous programming, such as the Indigenous Winter Training camp that takes participants into a tipi for stories, legends and folklore that depict the diverse and complex culture of the first inhabitants.

festival du voyageur fur trade

Master the art of the voyageur

Train as an apprentice through a series of workshops and demonstrations that showcase the arts practiced by the voyageurs of the past. Knowledgeable craftspeople will teach hands-on skills, with demonstrations happening in the first half of the day and workshops in the second. Learn about the stunning art of Métis beading, the highly technical skill of coopering and how to play the wooden spoons.

festical du voyageur wood working

Eat a festival favourite

Hungry voyageurs who find themselves in Fort Gibraltar have a variety of yummy fare at their fingertips. Try classics like poutine, chili with bannock and tourtière , or just in case the maple taffy wasn’t enough, grab a popular BeaverTail for dessert.