Agawa Crafts & The Canadian Carver, Pancake Bay, Ontario Canada

Back in August of 2016, as I was road-tripping along the Trans-Canadian Highway on my way from Vancouver Island in the far west of the country to Stratford Ontario  (just east of Detroit Michigan) I came across this really unique combination store that I liked so much that I can actually see myself driving back there (albeit, on a more direct route next time) to buy things for my home… once I actually get one.

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It’s actually a combination of a few stores that is only open during the tourism season (closed in winter, even just before Xmas — which is a bit crazy if you ask me), as well as a liquor store and gas station which stay open all year round.

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Smoked Fish and wild rice!!! YUM

Agawa Crafts sells items made by the local First Nations (i.e., Canadian name for Native Americans) tribal members,

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while the Canadian Carver is a gift store, full of hand-made items from local artists

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…some that looks a lot like cheesy stuff you could buy on-line or from gift-shops along highways … but ALL of it is in fact hand carved by artists they represent — although of varying levels of ability….

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The better stuff, from more skilled artists, is usually is grouped together on a wall

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or a shelf, with a photo and description of the artist alongside the items.UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_1fd1.jpg

Although some of it is just easy to self identify….

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was seriously wanting to buy this fruit bowl (left) and table (right) for myself, but no room

While I was here I did buy a carved duck, but as a wedding gift for two friends of mine who were getting married about a month later in September 2016, in Chicago.

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I’ve known the spouse since kinder-garden, the purple dress was purchased in Victoria, and is made of 100% hemp — so comfortable

 

It was of a sort decoy duck, a type of traditional North American Folk Art, usually carved out of a wood that will float — and sometimes used by hunters to confuse a duck into landing near them … like in the image below, only the one that I bought was MUCH nicer

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the one I bought almost looked like it was breathing … I’m sorry to say I never took a picture of it before wrapping it … my bad… that had been carved by a master level carver by the name of Larry Fell, and was signed underneath by the artist. (Works from some of the more famous master carvers have gone on to be collector’s items that have sold in the high six figures — so I figured, good gift.)

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I took this photo so my friends would know who the artist was who made their piece, should it ever become a collector’s item

… which I later, while in Stratford, ON… paid to have wrapped to my specifications (because when it’s worth doing right, pay a professional) at a high-end chocolate store called Rheo Thompson Candies

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Even though it’s a candy store, when I was walking through it one day I noticed that… because of all the people in that town who like to give chocolates as wedding favors, they had wedding gift paper with butterflies on it … so I asked them if they’d be willing to wrap my gift for me even though I wasn’t going to buy any chocolate, and they said they were…. I also asked if I could have these clay butterflies, which were on display as part of something else in the store, attached to it, and they agreed. I think the wrapping cost me like $30… but I think worth it… Getting the whole thing back to chicago without it being damaged was the tricky part.

The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, Batchawana (Alona) Bay, Ontario

At this location along the Trans Canadian Highway there is an educational sign devoted to the wreck of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald. The Ship was a Great Lakes Iron ore freighter that sunk November 10th, 1975, during a storm that contained 25-35 foot waves and hurricane-force winds. The wreck occurred southwest of this location, in the waters of Lake Superior; The ship’s wreck was immortalized in song by the great Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot; and is historically important for all those who work the waters of the great lakes, for how it forever changed the safety regulations upon them.

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For those who do not know, Superior is the third largest freshwater lake in the world both by volume and the largest by surface area; In fact it is so large that it contains about 10% of the worlds fresh water supply. UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_4bc.jpg

And, because of its impressive size and volume, it is large enough to have its own tide, just like an ocean.

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And while it is beautiful, it can also be as treacherous as any Ocean — especially during the months of November.

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It has had 350 recorded shipwrecks, has taken over 10,000 lives, and her waters are notorious for not giving up her dead (as in the bodies never wash up on the surrounding shores).

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The Fitzgerald had been the largest freighter on North America’s great lakes when it was first launched in 1958, and to this day remains the largest to have sunk within them; and in large part this catastrophe is why no other freighters have sunk on the lakes since then.

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The ship went down without a trace, taking along its entire crew of 29, and its singing, along with the notoriety the song brought it, led to changes in shipping regulations on the lakes. Now all boats must carry depth finders, higher freeboards, and undergo more frequent inspections of their sea-worthiness. In addition, these freighters are now required to carry survival suits for every member of the crew, so that even if the boat does go down, the workers can still have a chance at survival.

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For those unfamiliar with the song,

I also found this 20 minute video on YouTube called, The Edmund Fitzgerald: a 40 Year Legend which goes into depth about what we know, or think happened to the ship:

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The various points along the route in the photos above, see my click map