24 Jesuit Voyageurs Paddling Way to Expo

MIDLAND, Ont (RNS) -- "The black-robes paddle again," local Indians are saying.

They refer to the Jesuits who launched four canoes on the first leg of a journey retracing the route of the 17th century missionaries and traders who penetrated this area.

In the 22-foot canoes are 24 priests, brothers and scholastics from Canada and the U.S. They expect to take 21 days to cover the 540-mile trip to the Christian Pavilion at Expo 67 in Montréal.

Involved are more than 30 tough portages through the 30,000 islands of Georgian Bay, the French River, Lake Nipissing, Trout Lake and the Mattawa, Ottawa and St. Lawrence rivers.

The Jesuits left after ceremonies at the reconstructed community of Sainte-Maria-among-the-Huron here, where six of North America's eight martyred French Jesuits lived. With them, the Jesuits will carry messages on parchment and birchbark to be delivered at the Christian Pavilion Sept 3.

Unlike the original Jesuits, who had only the haunting of wild loons and forest animals for company, the 20th century Jesuits had a flotilla of other canoes and power boats to see them off. At Coldwater, Ont., they were greeted and were paraded to the fairground for songs, skits, food and bonfires and a flock of homing pigeons was released.

A service was held to commemorate the 352nd anniversary of the first Christian service ever conducted in Ontario Province. It was a Mass celebrated at the Huron village of Carhagouha in 1615.

The voyageurs' first landing in Québec province will be at Campbell's Bay, in the Ottawa area, on Sunday, Aug. 27.

- End of article. Copyright by The Ottawa Journal, August 19, 1967. All rights reserved.