THE STORY OF
FLYING CANOE HARD CIDER
Based on a story told by my French Canadian grandfather when I was a boy, the Flying Canoe is an interpretation of the French saying and story called
“Chasse-Galerie”. Flying Canoe Hard Cider is made in the region of Ottawa/Gatineau near where the legend is based, so we thought that we might share the mysteriousness of the tale.
The best known version is by Honoré Beaugrand. It is the story of some lonely Gatineau voyageurs in a remote timber camp centuries ago who make a pact with the Devil to make a run of the "Chasse-Galerie" in a magical Flying Canoe so they can visit their sweethearts and families hundreds of kilometers away during a holiday. They are warned, however, not to blaspheme during the voyage, or touch crosses atop church steeples and they must be back before six o'clock the next morning. If they fail in their mission, they shall lose their souls in the quest.
The loggers promise to keep their heads clear, take their places in the Flying Canoe which then rises off the ground, and they start to paddle. Far below they see the frozen Gatineau River, many villages, shiny church steeples and then the lights of Montreal. The Flying Canoe eventually lands down near a house where New Year's Eve festivities are in full swing. They are embraced with open arms and soon are dancing and celebrating as merrily as everyone else.
Soon it is late and the men must leave if they are to get back to camp in time for work. As they swoon through the moonless night, their navigator steers the Flying Canoe on a dangerously unsteady course. While passing over Montreal they just miss running into a church steeple and soon after their craft ends up stuck in a deep snowdrift.
At this point the navigator begins foul talking and taking the Lord's name in vain. Terrified the Devil will take their souls, they attempt to restrain him and elect another to steer. The navigator soon breaks his bonds and begins swearing again. The revelers are more and more shaken at the possibility of losing their souls, and they eventually lose control of their Flying Canoe and steer the bewitched craft right into a tall pine. The men spill out and are knocked unconscious but are returned generously in time for work the next morning.
The story of the loggers and the Flying Canoe is a lesson learned in being accountable for your actions and being responsible. It's just like the patience and work it takes to handcraft a great beverage like Flying Canoe Hard Cider.
Please enjoy responsibly.
Flying Canoe Hard Cider
Ottawa's First Hard Cider Manufacturer
THE LOG DRIVER'S WALTZ
Here's a cool video from way back that represents the history of the story of Flying Canoe Hard Cider.
This lighthearted, animated short is based on the song "The Log Driver's Waltz" by Wade Hemsworth. Easily one of the most often-requested films in the NFB collection, Kate and Anna McGarrigle sing along to the tale of a young girl who loves to dance and chooses to marry a log driver over his more well-to-do competitor. Driving logs down the river has made the young man the best dancing partner to be found.
Courtesy of the National Film Board of Canada. Made by John Weldon.