Kickin’ It In Kawarthas Day 3: The Whetung Ojibwa Centre

on August 1, 2013

Whetung Art Gallery

The Curve Lake Indian Reserve in the Kawarthas region features a particularly interesting and historic art collection and museum. It is certainly one that is worth checking out regardless of you whether you have an inner appreciation for Picasso or are still searching for yours.

The Whetung Ojibwa Centre combines an art gallery, museum and Native gift shop together to provide a uniquely Canadian experience to the visitors that it welcomes daily. The centre originally served as a fishing lodge that was opened by Clifford Whetung’s grandfather in the 1900’s.

Over the years, the property has undergone a variety of different iterations. Eventually serving as a grocery store, the 1940s saw the centre expand into a general store and began selling local Ojibwa crafts and figurines.

Michael Whetung

In the early 1960s, the Whetung family encourage their fellow tribe members to contribute crafts to the store. These included canoes, pipes, dollsm, and moccasins. To this day, these items are still crafted and available for purchase for visitors.

In addition to the items that are available for sale, there is a deep and profound history available to take in. One of the most impressive items is an old Native headdress. The headdress was presented to Michael Whetung as a gift and it is said that when it arrived, strange occurrences began happening inside the centre that housed it. This included the art being knocked off the walls that it was hanging on and an even an old shelf being broken into pieces with no apparent cause. This resulted in an Whetung consulting with a Shaman who advised him that the Headdress was not meant to be hidden despite its priceless value and demanded to be seen by all. When the item was added to the collection, life in the Centre returned to normal.

The bottom floor of the Centre is where you will find a detailed account of the Centre’s history and given its profound importance to the Ojibwa tribe and its people, this is an area that demands respect, attention and awareness. The priceless artifacts cannot be touched. The ceiling featured hundreds of dreamcatchers and masks that simply cannot be described and must be seen.

The gift shop on the main floor features a large selection of silver jewelry, bone and precious stone. You can also check out the ceremonial regalia, pottery, gemstones and different drums and carvings.

Finally, the art gallery on the main floor features paintings by well-known native artists including Norval Morriseau and Daphne Odjig as well as newer artists like Rick Beaver and Maxine Noel.

It is said that we cannot appreciate the future without recognizing the past. The Whetung Ojibwa Centre is certainly a great place to start.

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Next on the Kickin’ it in Kawarthas Tour: Swing by the Petroglyphs Provincial Park