Métis history focus of new exhibit
The newest exhibit at the Fort Frances Museum celebrates “Our Local Métis Story,” focusing on a people and culture that formed the very foundation of our community.
Museum curator Sherry George noted the exhibit is a joint venture, combining the efforts of the Sunset Country Métis, members of Couchiching First Nation and Kay-Nah-Chi-Wha-Nung (Manitou Mounds), the local public and separate school boards, and several community elders.
“There is a fairly good historical component to it,” she added. “It touches on the fur trade—that was the beginning of the Métis.
“It touches on [Louis] Riel and Manitoba, and bringing that territory into Confederation.
“It touches on the Métis migration from the Red River area to this area, and also after the War of 1812—that’s where some of the people from Couchiching came from,” George continued.
“Couchiching is basically Métis.”
George said the exhibit also covers the cultural heritage of the Métis, such as fiddling and jigging, and bringing in the French and Scots side along with the native.
“And then we have a whole section just on the families that came to this area,” she noted.
“That section isn’t quite finished because we still have people bringing in their photos and stories.
“We still have some work to do on it, but a lot of the history and the cultural part of it are up,” George added.
“It’s looking quite good.
“Every time we do a community exhibit, it seems to trickle in, and then somebody comes in and sees something, and says, ‘I’ve got one of those! Can I put it up?’” said George.
“And I am like, ‘Sure, bring it in.’”
George said a guest speaker from Victoria. B.C., Fern Perkins, will be here April 14-20. She is expected not only to visit local schools, but also to speak to the public at the Métis Hall here and the multi-use facility at Couchiching.
Perkins’ ancestors have ties to the Mainvilles from this area. She is the great-great-great-granddaughter of Charles Ross, the chief trader with the Hudson Bay Company who was in charge of building Fort Victoria in 1843.
She is excited to come back and explore her roots, noted George, adding Perkins is an educator and belongs to the “Pioneer Players,” a troupe that represents historical figures.
George feels the exhibit will be popular.
“Looking at the demographics for the area, there is a huge [Métis] population,” she remarked.
“That’s where we started from.”
The exhibit will run through to the end of May.
The museum is open Tuesday-Saturday from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.