I hear stories of the old days, real old days, where a boat came around once a year with a very limited selection. Janie Panchano reminded me of this when she me with the other Cree culture coordinators back in February. Can you imagine those Crees of long ago? Spying the tartan patterns of the cloth. Those yellows must have seemed the yellow of daises. Now imagine that person in a modern-day department store. The choices!

That’s how I felt at Montreal’s Great Outdoors Show. Never before have I been transported to hunter/fisher/gatherer paradise. Never has spring ever felt so close, so near, so touchable…

One of the first things I touched was the reclining position taken in the Goose Chair. In a relaxed position I knew that this one-man-blind $169 chair would have the geese landing within range. The chair comes with a huge shell that looks like a goose that flips up when the honkers fly within range. My only fear: the folly of an inexperienced hunter to realize that the goose wasn’t real! It is amazing to think that geese would be fooled by a 4-foot long representative of themselves, but it happens! One long-time guide says that it works like a charm.

After all he designed it! That’s when you know something is working. When someone in the biz does it.

I got a chance to try out the bows, an attraction I believe some Crees have turned to and I can understand the hype. Compound bows when fully extended are like holding air. Bow-making company Bear was nice enough to provide a trailer where you could release an arrow. I wasn’t used to the lack of pressure but that still didn’t detour me from trying.

Another thing I was interested in was the Inferno! firestarter. A new cheap substitute for Zip. When I talk cheap, I don’t mean bad. Not only can this stuff do the job but it’s even non-toxic, has no nasty smell, is waterproof, has an 8″ flame and still costs less! We tested it out. Lights well with a high flame that lasts 15 minutes. A small miracle that can be had by calling Robert Senneville at 1-800-879-6489.

Into golf? One company did something interesting when they started to make golf clubs with company logos on them. Normally I would consider this dorky but Promo Golf Art Inc. of Montreal pulls it off well.

Someone should recommend these in addition to the prizes at the annual Cree golf tourney.

Of course the regular features were all there from hipwaders, guns, fishing equipment, boats, all-terrain vehicles, camping equipment, outfitters and whatever else you would think you need to go into the great outdoors. In fact there were over 700 exhibitors present. Too many to mention!

This show should be attended by Crees and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone.

But where is my patriotism? After all, the 11 of the officially recognized Indian and Inuit Peoples in Quebec were present at this conference. When I heard this I of course kept my eye out for them. And there they were in their own little segregated section. Sort of a mini-reserve that, according to the Native exhibitors, were well-attended by the visitors. Crees from Ouje-Bougoumou, Waskaganish, Waswanipi, Chisasibi and Mistissini were present promoting their communities and tourism services.

Native businesses on hand included the Société Amiskw, Artisanat Gros-Louis, Traditional Attikamek Indian Art, Chief Johnny Montour promoting his community’s tourism plans, an old friend Theresa Provost, Tamarak Waskaganish, the Abenaki Museum, Marina Micka Enr., Chisasibi Mandow Agency, Big Beaver Trading Post, Inter Nations Travel Agency, Mashk from Pointe Bleu, La Griffe du Loup, Kad Creations and Okwaho’s Fitness Adventure. One day is not enough time to look at this show. Next time it comes to town, I plan on a few days!