GRAEME BRUCE / BRANDON SUN
A man, known only as "Old Goat" around his camp, was one of seven campers who set up at Spruce Woods Provincial Park as part of Pine Fort Days over the weekend, a showcase of how the Northwest Company fur traders lived.
SPRUCE WOODS PROVINCIAL PARK — After several years off, a group of pioneer time enthusiasts once again pitched their tents for Pine Fort Days over the weekend.
A man, known only as "Old Goat" around his camp, was one of seven campers who set up at Spruce Woods Provincial Park as part of Pine Fort Days over the weekend, a showcase of how the Northwest Company fur traders lived. (GRAEME BRUCE / BRANDON SUN)
Visitors were able to see first-hand how the Coureur des Bois fur traders lived and camped in this living history, at the rustic fur trader camp which included canoe brigades, campfire talks and bannock bakes, fashion shows and flint knapping.
"I’m just interested in history," said one of the campers who only goes by his camp name "Old Goat," one of seven Pine Fort campers, all of whom were dressed to play the part. His long hair, scruffy beard and mechanic’s hands made Old Goat all the more believable as a trader.
From the guns, to the cloth tents, to the hanging animal pelts, the goal of the event is to step inside the life of a trader.
The area where Spruce Woods Provincial Park is now was an important post for the North West Company fur traders, many of whom were former Coureur des Bois traders. The North West Company was the Hudson’s Bay Company’s biggest competitor before the two were forced to amalgamate among bloodshed. The western Manitoba post acted as a storage facility of sorts for the company’s travellers heading east and west.
However, the future of Pine Fort Days at Spruce Woods is up in the air. The beleaguered provincial park, hit once again this year with major flood damage, is going through substantial construction in the coming year and it’s unclear if the Pine Fort group will be able to set up next year.
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Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 18, 2014