Our recent trip to Fort Whyte ended with a canoe trip and bannock baking experience. We were on the The Bison and Its People tour. Not only the Plains Indians depended on the bison. We learned that the Metis voyageurs transported bison hides for trade by canoe.
After practicing our paddling skills on land we headed out in the canoes just like the voyageurs. We sang songs like My Paddle Keen and Bright and Alouette as we glided over the water. We learned that voyageurs paddled up to eighteen hours a day while swatting away thousands of mosquitoes and despite muscle pulls and other injuries from lifting heavy bundles of hides and furs.
Our guide Lisa showed us the voyageurs’ sash which not only held their warm bison coats closed but also provided back support while carrying heavy loads or on portages. The sash was also a place to hang a knife or a pouch.
Does it look like my husband Dave and our friend Tad are praying? Actually they are rolling bannock dough. Bannock is made from flour, shortening, a little salt and some milk or water. The voyageurs considered flour a rare treat but when they had some they made bannock.
Dave’s bannock is just about ready to wrap around his fire stick. It was the Selkirk Settlers here in Manitoba who dubbed their unleavened flour/ water biscuits bannock. The voyageurs actually called it galette.
The next step is winding your bannock around a stick for the fire. Bannock has many nicknames including bush bread, trail bread and grease bread.
This is the step in the bannock making process that requires the most patience. Roasting it over the fire–not so close to the fire that it burns–not so far away that it doesn’t get baked properly.
Mmmmmmmmmm! That’s delicious!
Our guide Lisa brewed us tea from the berries of the wild rose.
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