Is that a real voyageur on the book cover? Is it a real birch bark canoe? (Justin, age 13)

This voyageur is a “historic interpreter” who works summers at Fort William Historical Park in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The photo was taken by Jenni Grandfield, who spends her summers in Thunder Bay working at the Fort as an interpreter. (Check out the post next week about what historic interpreters do — coming soon).

This canoe is used daily for canoe rides ($5) to the public, so it’s very sturdy — fiberglass made to look like birch bark. Jenni took photographs from a variety of angles to get it right.

voyageur colin

A “historic interpreter” at Fort William Historical Park in Thunder Bay, Ontario — and we’re related! Photo by Jenni Grandfield

“Because of how the dock is set up,” Jenni said, “our voyageur would have had to be at the back of the canoe (the gouvernail or guide’s position) which belongs to the most experienced person in the canoe.”

Since in the story the character is a very new voyageur, she knew it wouldn’t be appropriate for him to sit in the stern, or back, of the canoe for this purpose.

One more note — he is related to me! His father was showing family photos at a family reunion this summer. I asked if he’d be willing to be on the cover and his parents helped it to happen. And recommended Jenni as a photographer. Isn’t that amazing?



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