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Highlights Archives

Exploring the Great Lakes Fur Trade

A costumed fur trader talks to visitors about the heyday of the fur trade on Madeline Island

Historical re-enactors from throughout Wisconsin and Minnesota will converge on Madeline Island Friday through Sunday, July 22-24, to set up an encampment at Madeline Island Museum for three days of demonstrations, re-enactments, handicrafts and other activities — all of them directly related to the history of the Great Lakes fur trade. The special event, Connecting Cultures: Exploring the Lake Superior Fur Trade, will explore all facets of the fur trade that flourished in the region from the 1690s to the 1840s. And there is no more appropriate setting for such an event than Madeline Island, which served as an important hub of the fur trade well into the 19th century.

A Widely Varied Cast of Characters

Visitors to Madeline Island during the event can expect to meet and mingle with a widely varied cast of characters, each of whom has special expertise and a unique perspective on the legend and lore of the fur trade era.

  • Jeff Plath of St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin, will make traditional glass beads by hand while his dad Kevin Plath, of Burnsville, Minnesota, demonstrates flint knapping.
  • Jeremy Kingsbury of Grand Portage, Minnesota, fluent in Ojibwe language, will share lively bagpipe music of the day.
  • From Osceola, Wisconsin, Leopold Lisovskis, an expert on trade silver, will hand make accurate replicas of historic trade silver.
  • Isaac Walters from Blair, Wisconsin, will explore 18th-century frontier agriculture and will have his dog and dog cart on hand for demonstrations.
  • Historical artist David Geister from Minneapolis will interpret early 19th-century art and will explore the role of artists in documenting the last days of the fur trade and frontier life.
  • From Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, Michael Douglass will take on the role of the fur post factor and introduce museum visitors to the business end of things.
  • Wayne Krefting will portray a clerk and demonstrate the use of quill pen and ink.
  • Interpreters will share information about foods of the fur trade era, life of a Great Lakes sailor, and many hands-on and children's activities.

For complete details on hours, admission fees, locations and directions, and other details, see our Plan Your Visit pages.

:: Posted July 21, 2011

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