AlgomaTrad Family Camp 2023 – A Magical 20th Year Celebration!

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AlgomaTrad celebtrated its 20th year of the AlgomaTrad Family Camp from Monday, August 14 to Sunday, August 20 at the AlgomaTrad Centre. The 165-strong community of learners of all-ages and their very talented and passionate mentors enjoyed a magical week on beautiful St. Joseph Island. The Camp featured 70 workshops every day, covering all learning levels from introduction to master, in: fiddle, tin whistle/flute, guitar, piano, cello, bass, uilleann and highland pipes, ukulele, mandolin, singing, step dancing, printmaking, basketmaking,  blacksmithing, community arts,  and children’s music, theatre, and stories programming. Evenings were full with concerts, music sessions, community contra/square dances, and the always awesome annual Staff Concert at the Richards Landing Centennial Grounds.

This year we honoured the music and legacy of Brian Pickell, a composer and musician with deep ties to the AlgomaTrad community. Since 2oo4, Brian has composed numerous commissioned tunes that have raised considerable funds for our Nicholas Missere Bursary, a fund that helps make our programs and events affordable to all. The week culminated in a community arts event with the theme of an amusement park called Brian’s World that featured musical presentations, dioramas, games, and the Serpent River water slide, all based on the names of his tunes.

Check out the 11-minute video made by Camp photographer Will Henry to see the joy and passion that everyone brought to this wonderful year.

The AlgomaTrad Family Camp could not occur without the talents, hands-on help, and support of so many artists, volunteers, and local businesses.

We are eternally grateful to our hard-working and ardent staff, lead by this year’s Camp Director and amazing fiddler Kyle Burghout, including: multi-award winning fiddler Shane Cook; fiddler/multi-instrumentalist/singer Anne Lederman; Cape Breton fiddler Dan MacDonald; multi-instrumentalist and arranger  James Stephens; 2018 Canadian Grand Master fiddler Jane Cory; Northern Michigan Ottawa Chipewayan fiddler Ruby John; bassist/guitarist Joseph Phillips; guitar and mandolin wizard Darrin Schott; artist, printmaker, and multi-instrumentalist/singer Ian Bell; old-time banjo player and dance caller Martha Cooper; stepdancer and English sword dance master Laurie Cumming; all-night caller extraordinaire Emily Addison; uilleann piper/percussionist/multi-instrumentalist, and sound and video guru, Steáfán Hannigan; fiddler Aine Schryer-O’Gorman; piano accompanist and AlgomaTrad Artistic Director Julie Schryer;  tin whistle, flute, and accordion player Eli Howard; Irish fiddler and staff volunteer Cate Sandstrom; Highland piper/tin whistle player and annual volunteer staff member Paul McClelland;  Highland and Uilleann piper/ tin whistle/Irish flute player and Artistic Director Pat O’Gorman; choir leader and children’s programming facilitator Shifra Cooper; basketmaker Johnny Suderman; community arts leader Ruth Howard; blacksmith Denis Frechette and sound engineer/percussionist Jason Sonier. A very special thanks to our volunteer youth staff: uilleann piper, pianist, and whistle player Arlo Quilley, dance fiddler Jem Quilley and accordionist Abigail Rees. Thanks to volunteers Josh and Emilie Taylor who offered some cool elements to the Elective period. Finally, really HUGE thanks to  the heart and soul of the Camp, the kitchen staff, – Jane Wildman, Hannah-Lee Lawrence, Yvonne Kulawic, Anne Davies, Desi Davies, Abbie and Grace Wildman, Cindy Glover and a host of volunteers and worktraders, especially the early morning Breakfast crew: Julie Corcoran, Donna Forster, Hugh Devon, and Linda Falls.

Our dream team summer employees Tori Grasley and Carolyn Johnston, in positions supported by grants from Governments of Ontario and Canada, were there for us every step of the way – you guys know how much we love you and appreciate all the many things you did to make the entire summer of programming incredibly special and smooth sailing.

Big thanks go out to the AlgomaTrad’s hardworking Board of Directors: president/chair Barb Willoughby as well as Sarah Fleming (ret.) , Mary and Steve Schneider, Amy Reich, Samantha Giguere, Eli Howard, and Michael O’Gorman, who volunteer their time to guide the entire AlgomaTrad endeavour. Special thanks to the Auction committee whose efforts raised close to $8000 for the Nicholas Missere Bursary Fund, including Barb, Mary, and Samantha with Joyce Ervin and Sylvie Tremblay.  The Fund is an important tool to help make events and programs more accessible to families and individuals in need. Thanks to everyone who donated to and supported the online and silent auctions, your support is so important!

As with every year, the St. Joseph Island and area community had our backs in every way, before, during and after the Camp – from putting up tents, helping with food prep, offering up homes and trailers, building structures, cutting grass, trimming trees, welcoming families, helping with programming, preparing the workshop spaces, running elective workshops, being our PSW’s for Brian Pickell, hauling stuff away, cleaning, donating a printing press, making airport runs, providing coffee urns, showers, and a wheel chair…the list goes on! SO, very special thanks go to: Peter & Lois Lambert, Heather & Fred Pepper, Carl & Marilyn Bowyer, Heather & Brian Whitley, Becky, Adam, Aurora and Sequoia Hodgson and family, Norma Griffin & Robert Janser, Bob Pinder, Matthew Forster, Donna Forster, Amanda Moss, Peter Welles, Jeanne & Ed Arthurs, Michelle & Hugh Devon, Zach & Hollie Lefebvre, Benoit Lefebvre & Melanie Arthur, Al Tithecott, Elijah Lederman, Eric Lawrence, Sally Cohen & Family, Marigje & Paul Cooper, Julie Corcoran, Linda Falls, Doug Falls, Andrew McKay, Anita Ableson, Jennifer Kottick, Mary & Steve Schneider, Barb & Steve Willoughby, Sid Grasley, Ron & Melanie Dorscht,  Rod & Lissy Martin & family, Tracey Busque, Beth Lane, Colleen Nicholson, Marg Carruthers, Detlef Berndt, St. Joseph Township, Royal Canadian Legion Branch 374, Trefry Centre, and Carter Dorscht & The Kensington Conservancy.

Several campers came early to help with set up, offered their considerable assistance during the week, or stayed to help tear down and clean up- thanks so much to Lou Hayden, Scott Florence, Raffi Hayden-Florence, Saskia Tompkins, Brent Hyde, Edie Bell, John Mayberry, Kate Weekes, Judy Moore, Steph Romaniuk, Chris Schiller, Denis & Ann Lyons, Steve Cooper, Karl Granberg & Suzanne Hansen, Aidan Davies, Jel Coward, Rebecca Lindley & Maisy & Annabelle, Steele Curry, Sylvie Tremblay, Lynda Henry, and Sandra Hansen. Our apologies if we missed someone – there are so many of the campers that are pitching in in so many ways and we appreciate you all for caring for the community!

As usual we had some wonderful support from local businesses including Penokean Hills Farms, St. Joseph Island Coffee Roasters, Northern Skies Resort, Stobie Mechanical, Handcrafted Timber Homes,  Bonnie Barthelmes of Green Oak Grafix, North Shore Sentinel, Island Clippings, EchoTech,, McClelland’s Hardware and Feed, and Karhi Contracting.

Very special mention to corporate sponsors ONEKA, a company that produces natural personal care products created out of a deep love and respect for our natural habitat and fellow living beings – no Camp ever smelt or felt better!!

A huge thank you to Ontario Arts Council, Ontario Trillium Foundation, and Canadian Heritage, who provided funding that helped us prepare for the safe delivery of the Camp during the Covid pandemic and provided tools for this year and the future for the safe delivery of programs and events.

A big thank you to everyone who came out on a cool evening to the staff concert and who supported the online fundraising auction, your support helps in more ways than you know.

AlgomaTrad humbly acknowledges, with gratitude, our privilege to work, play, make music, share food, build community, and create on the traditional lands of the Anishinaabe and Métis.

Finally, Artistic Directors Julie Schryer and Pat O’Gorman send their deeply heartfelt thank you to all of this year’s AlgomaTradders who brought their passion, their excitement, and their total commitment to building a joyful and loving community!

See you next year!!