I have to say, that I thoroughly enjoyed this National Monument. The visitor center was beautiful and the grounds and buildings of this historic fort were so educational.
The fort was built on the shores of Lake Superior by the North West Trading Company. Europe was consuming beaver pelts at a extraordinary rate for hats and numerous other things. British & French fur trappers worked side by side with the Ojibwe people.
The Voyageurs developed these huge canoes for transporting pelts and trappers. They look just like the Ojibwe's canoes, but on steroids.
They carved their dishes, utensils, and many more things from the local wood.
They also made all the barrels on site for transporting goods.
This contraption was fascinating! When I asked the docent how it worked, he kindly demonstrated how it operated. See where his feet are located? So, when he pushes his feet forward it locks the piece of wood in the clamp so that he can use the draw blade towards him on the wood. Of course, my next question was "how do you keep from cutting your stomach as you pull the draw blade towards you?" He just smirked. You can draw your own conclusions.
The building on the left is the cook house and the building on the right is the Grand Hall. Cook houses were separate from other buildings in case of fire. It may be where the phrase "Hedging your bets" came from.
There are over 2,000 of these pointy timbers around the fort. My first thought was protection from the native americans, but then I learned that they had wonderful relationships with the local peoples and opened the gates wide every morning to allow them in. Hmmm... I'm stumped. Was it to keep the moose and deer out of the gardens? Seems a little excessive.
This was not your usual frontier kitchen! They had everything a gourmet kitchen in France or England would have. Once a year the officers and owners of the Trading Company would come and the feasting was incredible!
The docent who was tending the cook house was making stew in the fireplace. She gave me a taste and it was delicious!
This little contraption is a toaster! You toast one side of the bread and then the whole thing swivels to toast the other side...brilliant!
This is the owners and officers table.
This is where the rest of the men ate
No paper plates here!
Any ideas what this is? I'll give you a clue, it's not rope.
It's tobacco! They sold it by the foot
This also is tobacco. You had to buy the whole thing and then you would slowly take one round of string off and use the tobacco that could be pulled off and continue until the whole roll was used.
The veranda off the Grand Hall overlooking Lake Superior.
This gives you a better perspective of just how big the Voyageurs canoes were.
Goodbye Grand Portage National Monument; it's off to Isle Royale National Park tomorrow!