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Festival du Voyageur : Then and Now

Source: Festival du Voyageur

 

PART 1 – THE BEGINNINGS:

FROM 1969 TO 768 TACHÉ

The concept of a winter festival celebrating Manitoba’s Francophonie took root in 1967 among a few brave citizens of Saint-Boniface who organized themselves under the banner of the Saint-Boniface Chamber of Commerce. They approached the City of Winnipeg with a plan in the hopes of obtaining some financial backing. Unfortunately, the offer the city put forth could not sustain such an ambitious idea. They would have to wait.

 

The following year, the organizers approached the city with the support of 18 different community organizations. The City of Saint-Boniface gave the plan its full approval and the very first Festival du Voyageur took place in 1970, within the context of the official celebrations of Manitoba’s centenary. Georges Forest was given the task of promoting the event. To do so, he decided to wear clothing based on the image of the voyageur, becoming the first Official Voyageur and creating a tradition that continues to this day. The celebrations lasted four days and introduced people to some of the festival’s most popular events, including the walk down Provencher Boulevard, the Governor’s Bal and the Voyageur Trading Post.

 

One year later, a sculpture of a toque and boots took first place in the snow sculpting contest and inspired the image of Léo La Tuque, who became in 1972 the official mascot and trademark of Festival du Voyageur.

 

Year after year, Festival du Voyageur continued to grow in popularity and it became obvious that the festival’s location, Provencher Park, was now too small to accommodate the influx of festival-goers. The organization decided it was time to start a project that would change the festival forever; they would move the festivities to Whittier Park.

 

In 1977, construction began on a wooden log cabin in Whittier Park. It was the very first building to appear on the site where Fort Gibraltar would eventually be erected. The festival would take place in Whittier Park from then on and would continue to attract more and more visitors.

 

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