Winnipeg’s Festival du Voyageur celebrates 50 years of winter fun

Images from the largest winter festival in Western Canada offer a glimpse at the rich cultural heritage of Manitoba

  • Published Mar 05, 2019
  • Updated Nov 23, 2022
  • 137 words
  • 1 minutes
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Winnipeg’s winters are renowned for being some of the harshest in Canada. But despite the bone-chilling cold that can sweep across the Manitoba capital, there’s always some frosty fun to look forward to — especially when it comes to the Festival du Voyageur, Western Canada’s largest winter festival. 

The 10-day party, which celebrates the culture and heritage of Manitoba’s French, Indigenous and Métis people, recently wrapped up its 50th year, with tens of thousands of visitors flocking to the Francophone St. Boniface neighbourhood to enjoy everything from live music and demonstrations of voyageur life to French-Canadian food and dog-sled rides. 

Get a taste of what the festival is all about by scrolling through the images below and then start making plans for your own Winnipeg winter escape next year. 



Sophie Moquin, a Métis program interpreter at the festival, walks along the timber walls of Fort Gibraltar before the event’s official opening. This year was Moquin’s sixth at the festival, which she says she keeps coming back to because it is her passion.
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Fireworks light up sky during the official opening of the festival.
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The huge snow sculpture at the main entrance to Voyageur Park, which is within the city’s Whittier Park. Sculptures such as this can be seen throughout Voyageur Park and around the rest of the city during the festival.
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Festival interpreters and visitors warm up around a bonfire at the Winter Trading Camp. Festival-goers typically gather around the bonfire or go inside the camp’s teepee to learn about the Indigenous peoples who first lived along the Red River.
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A fox fur at the festival’s trading-post interpretive centre. The fur trade was an important chapter of the region’s history for both European settlers and Indigenous peoples.
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Derrick Muzamuzi, a fur-trade-era interpreter at the trading post, shows off a bison pelt to visitors.
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Ashley Kowalchuk, left, and Elise Paetkau show off their finger-weaving skills as they make sashes, bracelets and headbands at the festival’s trading post.
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Mark Blieske chats with visitors about how he makes birchbark baskets that can be used as storage containers or for collecting berries. Blieske, a historian, teacher, woodworker and artisan, also makes handcrafted, custom-designed canoe paddles.
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A woman and child dance in front of the stage during a performance by Carly Dow.
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Sebastian Gaskin, a Cree and Anishinaabe singer/songwriter and guitarist from Winnipeg, performs in front of a huge crowd at the BellMTS Rivière-Rouge Tent.
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A young boy patiently waits for his maple syrup taffy pop, a popular treat at the festival.
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Robert Gendron, a Métis interpreter, poses with Betsy, a wooden owl. During the festival, Gendron wears traditional Métis clothing and walks around Fort Voyageur, talking to visitors about things such as pemmican and socializing at kitchen parties.
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The Festival du Voyageur sash, a.k.a. a ceinture fléchée, is a prominent accessory during the 10-day celebration, with everyone from festival staff, interpreters and volunteers to visitors wearing the traditional Métis and French-Canadian garment.
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