________________ CM . . . . Volume VIII Number 21 . . . . June 21, 2002

cover Quest for the Bay. School & Library Edition.

Don Young (Director).
Winnipeg, MB: Frantic Films, 2001.
120 min., VHS, $150.00.

Subject Headings:
Fur trade-Canada-History.
Voyageurs.
Frontier and pioneer life-Canada, Western.

Grades 2-12 / Ages 7-18.

Review by Ian Stewart.

**** /4

   
  Quest for the Bay: Teacher Resource Guide.

Yolanda Hogeveen and Jennifer Janzen.
Winnipeg, MB: Portage & Main Press, 2001.
168 pp., spiral bound, $25.00.
ISBN 1-895411-94-7.

Subject Headings:
Fur trade-Canada-History.
Voyageurs.
Frontier and pioneer life-Canada, Western.

Grades 2-12 / Ages 7-18.

Review by Ian Stewart.

**** /4

   

In 1867, a Hudson's Bay Company employee and diarist, Isaac Cowie wrote about his two month journey from Fort Gary to York Factory in a York boat. The 1,225-kilometer trip was a backbreaking ordeal for the York men; however, the proud young highland lads labored ceaselessly from dawn 'til dusk. Day after day, the trip-men rowed the 900-kilogram York boat under horrible and dangerous conditions. At any time the pain and tedium could turn into a life-threatening situation as sudden squalls developed on the once tranquil Lake Winnipeg. The famous explorer Sir John Franklin once described a York boat journey as "unending toil broken only by the terror of the storms." Later, the backbreaking portages on northern rivers or the rapids of the Hayes River could easily bring injury or death to the York men. All this for the low wage of six English pound a season and a diet, Cowie wrote, "civilized people would say was not fit for dogs."

Following the success of the first-rate production of Pioneer Quest (2000), Quest For the Bay is Winnipeg's Credo Productions second venture into replicating significant historical experiences in nineteenth century Western Canada. In Pioneer Quest, the participants attempted to duplicate the lives of Manitoba pioneer settlers. In this production, the adventurers were forced to face the daily tedium and danger the York men experienced, using only a historically accurate York boat, tools, tents, and clothing, and eating a vile concoction of buffalo meat fat and blueberries known as pemmican. The eight young Canadians who signed on began their quest on a warm sunny Canada Day in the summer of 2001. However, after a few short kilometers rowing down the Red River, the excitement of the adventure's beginning turned into the bleak reality of the York man's life, and modern day viewers are treated to a fascinating historical adventure that tests the octet's strength and determination to succeed. As the trip progresses down the muddy Red River and into Lake Winnipeg, the novice York men, faced with a chronically leaky boat and hordes of mosquitoes, come to the realization that their makeshift planning is a sure path to disaster. Luckily, the journey up the mighty lake to Norway House is calm, and they are able to hone their skills and strengthen their rowing muscles before facing dozens of laborious portages and the deadly rapids of the Hayes River. After 61 days of agony, they reached York factory on the coast of Hudson's Bay. The modern York men's historical journey takes them through untrammeled areas of Manitoba. Seeing and experiencing the majesty and the beauty of the province's land and the power of its great northern rivers is an inspiring experience. As they rowed and struggled and rowed some more, the character strengths and flaws are revealed in every individual, just as they would have been in the Highland lads, who laboured 150-200 years ago. Quest For the Bay is a powerful re-creation of the York man's life. Students will come away from viewing the documentary with a greater understanding and respect for the fur traders of Rupert's Land. From a dramatic point of view, it is superior to Pioneer Quest, and as a teaching tool it is equally valuable.

Quest For The Bay: Teacher Resource Guide.

     Yolanda Hogeveen and Jennifer Janzen, the creators of the teacher resource guide for the Pioneer Quest video, have again produced a superlative comprehensive guide for Quest for the Bay. This resource guide alone will provide teachers with sufficient ideas, activities, book and website resources to teach complete units in fur trade history at the elementary, middle, and senior levels. Its numerous and varied activities take students through the history of the fur trade, the roles of men and women, involvement of First Nations and the Metis people, wilderness survival, and Canadian geography. The guide includes a synopsis of each of the four episodes, along with pre-viewing, viewing and post-viewing questions. In addition to dozens of black-line masters of charts and maps, background information sheets are included to provide concise content knowledge for teachers and students.

Highly Recommended.

Ian Stewart, a teacher with Winnipeg School Division #1, is a regular contributor to CM and the book review pages of the Winnipeg Free Press.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364

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