Oct 23, 2019
Practical Nursing and Continuing Care Aide students at Dumont Technical Institute in Regina participated in a Red River Cart Workshop on May 8th, 2019. The workshop was led by George Fayant, a Métis man from the Qu’Appelle Valley and a renowned Red River cart builder. George provided interactive opportunities for the students to have fun with the artistic and historic process as they built smaller versions of the Red River Cart.
George Fayant is no stranger to Gabriel Dumont Institute. The Institute previously commissioned a number of Red River carts from Fayant that are proudly displayed at the Gabriel Dumont Institute facilities.
George started the workshop with a PowerPoint presentation about the Red River Cart. He had a lot of pictures, dates and maps in the presentation and spent some time explaining the origins and uses of the Red River Carts.
Students were shown maps of the Cart Trails that wind down from Canada into the United States. George spoke about the carts being a means for transportation and often pulled by oxen or sometimes horse. Students were amazed to learn that the sometimes up to 2500 carts could be taken apart and floated across water ways in a single file line. George spoke about how one Métis Family may have had up to 10 carts.
Practical Nursing Instructor, Janelle Schentag reflected back on the day and shared that George took the students to the basement of Dumont Technical Institute where he had a smaller version of the cart. He showed the cart to the students and then took it apart and had students re-build it.
He had one full sized wheel and showed students how it could be taken apart and put back together and then students had an opportunity to build smaller versions of the Red River cart.
The students used hammers and drills and sandpaper and put together small versions of the Red River carts.
Students of both programs worked together so they had some good interaction amongst each other and in this team building experience. In the end they were very proud of their hard work and the workshop was a great success. Thank you to all those involved in providing this experience to the students.
According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, the Red River cart was constructed entirely of wood and was tied together with leather. It was easily repaired and was wonderfully adapted to prairie conditions. The cart was buoyant and could be floated across streams, yet it was strong enough to carry loads as heavy as 450 kg. Two shafts attached to the axle were strapped to a pony or ox. The carts were gradually replaced by the steamboat and ultimately the railway.