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This watercolor image, courtesy of the Historic Association of Lewiston collection, depicts Le Magazin Royal as it would have appeared in the 1720s.
This watercolor image, courtesy of the Historic Association of Lewiston collection, depicts Le Magazin Royal as it would have appeared in the 1720s.

300th anniversary celebration of Le Magazin Royal set for Sept. 12 at Artpark

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Tue, Sep 1st 2020 07:00 am

First trading post in Niagara

Free admission for those who RSVP to Artpark

In Western New York, it is not often one gets a chance to celebrate the tricentennial of an historic event. But that’s what is happening on Saturday, Sept. 12, at Artpark in Lewiston.

In 1720 – 300 years ago – French diplomat, trader and military officer Louis Thomas Chabert de Joncaire established Le Magazin Royal, a trading post at the Lower Landing of the Niagara, where Artpark stands today.

The Historical Association of Lewiston, the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area, Artpark and Old Fort Niagara have teamed up to commemorate the event with a reenactment of Joncaire’s landing, Native American dancing, a special exhibit of artifacts from the original Magazin Royal, and historic cooking demonstrations..

The free event will allow visitors to return to the days when a Seneca village stood near the banks of the Niagara River. It was here in May 1720 that Joncaire and 10 Frenchmen landed their canoes and began construction of a bark-covered trading post that they quickly christened, Le Magazin Royal, the Royal Store. Le Magazin became the center of Native-French diplomacy and trade on the Niagara until eclipsed by Fort Niagara’s construction in 1726.

The Sept. 12 event begins at 11 a.m. near the historic gully that allowed travelers to climb out of the Niagara Gorge and ascend the escarpment. Voyageurs in period attire, carrying important trade goods, will depart Fort Niagara by canoe earlier that morning to arrive at the Lower Landing about 11:30 a.m. A brief ceremony between Frenchmen and Native Americans will follow.

Native dancers will perform at 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., while musket firing demonstrations will take place at noon and 1 p.m. Ongoing demonstrations will include Native American crafts, a display of wampum belts, and a cooking demonstration of recipes that were prepared at Le Magazin 300 years ago.

The program will end when Lawrence Claessen, representing the English, arrives to demand that the French demolish the trading post about 1:30 p.m.

There is no admission charge for the event, but attendance will be capped at 175 guests to allow for social distancing given the pandemic. Those interested in attending are required to RSVP to Artpark by filling out the form at http://bit.ly/MagazinRoyal.

Social distancing and face coverings will be required.

The event is sponsored by the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area and Lactalis American Group Inc.

More information about Magazin Royal 300 is available at www.magazinroyal300.org.

Historic interpreters portray trade and diplomacy between a French soldier and Native American. Interpreters will also be onsite at the Sept. 12 “Magazin Royal 300” commemoration at Artpark to share history with visitors about the first trading post built by the French in this area, 300 years ago.

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