Our Sled Maker is busy this time of year. Extra busy. With orders for our Traditional Toboggans from the Canadian North, Freight Sled and Hand Toboggan enthusiasts reaching out as they begin to plan their winter camping and fishing excursions, and of course families anticipating the arrival of their new family toboggan heirloom to grace their sledding hills this Christmas and on into the New Year. It is busy and for this we are thankful… for our Sled Maker, for our adventurous customers, for snow, for family, for friends, for health... the list goes on.
This concept of being thankful is important. We notice how there are many people posting in social media in November and December with a daily note of thanks. There are others we know who have a daily journal where they jot down a positive reminder of the good in their lives. Being thankful is important and essential as we encounter and impact our world on a daily basis.
So, in the spirit of thankfulness, we want to share the story of our Thanksgiving 2016…
We had the great honor of visiting the man who was instrumental in the start-up of Northern Toboggan Co, formerly Northern Toboggan & Sled. We visited our Great Uncle, Brother Raymond Deschenes in St. Boniface, Manitoba. Though Canada celebrates their Thanksgiving Day earlier in the fall, the spirit of giving was alive in the retirement center where Uncle Raymond lives. Surrounded by those who have given their lives in the religious orders of the Catholic Church, you couldn’t ask for a more loving place to spend Thanksgiving Day.
Uncle Raymond was waiting to welcome us at the front door when we arrived. He showed us around the retirement center, invited us for lunch and we spent time visiting throughout the afternoon. He shared stories from his travels and his knowledge about the Canadian North, showed pictures of his many nieces and nephews, and gave our children attention (and flashlights) to keep them entertained :-)
One interesting topic we discussed at length was a connection Uncle Raymond has between Northern Toboggan Co and the Northern Territories through the writings and artwork of Bern Will Brown. Mr. Brown (formerly Fr. Brown) was an Oblate Priest who established a mission in Colville Lake, Northwest Territories, just north of the Arctic Circle. He later left the priesthood and was married, eventually operating the old mission as a museum and lodge. Jackson and Gabriel visited this community this past July and were intrigued by the log buildings of the old mission left behind following his death in 2014. The beautiful log chapel, Our Lady of the Snows, still stands out in the village of traditional native huts and modest homes. Colville Lake and the Dene people who reside there are long-time customers of our toboggans and a visit there was long overdue and will not soon be forgotten. Uncle Raymond's following of Mr. Brown is no coincidence. We credit him with sparking our Sled Maker’s interest in the craft of toboggan making and our appreciation of the Dene people who rely on them to travel the Arctic.