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Voices from the Past

Costumed first-person presentations

Schedule a Program

Programs can be presented either at Chippewa Nature Center or at the meeting place of your choice. These programs are designed for ages 12 and up.

Program Prices

The standard program charge for a 60-minute presentation is $100. If a 30-minute program better fits your needs, it may be scheduled at a rate of $50. Travel costs are charged at a rate of $.50/mile for programs outside the Midland area.

For more information or to schedule a program, please contact Kyle Bagnall at 989.631.0830 or kbagnall@chippewanaturecenter.org

Ephraim Williams, Pioneer Fur Trader

Ephraim Williams arrived at “The Forks” of the Tittabawassee and Chippewa Rivers in 1828 to reopen a trading post as an agent of the American Fur Company. For the next twelve years, Ephraim and his brothers were prominent traders in the Saginaw Valley at the very end of the fur trading era. Step back in time as Kyle Bagnall, Manager of Historical Programs at Chippewa Nature Center, presents a costumed, first-person program based on the life of Ephraim Williams. You’ll hear tales of this renowned pioneer family as they were caught up in the War of 1812, established a farm in an unbroken forest, traded with Native Americans and built the first sawmill in the Saginaw Valley.

An Afternoon with Bela Hubbard in 1837

By wagon, on foot and in canoes, three men (and a dog) set out to explore the new State of Michigan in the fall of 1837. Step back in time and listen to Bela Hubbard – geologist, naturalist, surveyor and explorer – as he describes an autumn journey when “there were no highways but the streams.” Using words from Hubbard’s own journals and dressed in period clothing, witness a first-person portrayal of this fascinating figure from Michigan’s past. Travel back in time as Hubbard describes Michigan’s forests before lumbering, time spent with a Chippewa elder at the Little Forks Reservation, encounters with animals and a 150-mile journey on Lake Huron in a dugout canoe. In eloquent and entertaining style, the words of Bela Hubbard provide a rare glimpse into Michigan’s past you won’t want to miss!

Bela Hubbard's Wild Michigan

Join Bela Hubbard, 19th century naturalist, geologist and explorer, as he relates his observations of Michigan’s wildlife from the 1830s through the 1870s. Using journals and writings from the period, Kyle portrays Hubbard as he shares detailed and eloquent observations of Michigan’s wilderness more than 150 years ago.You’ll hear about an amazing otter on the shore of Lake Superior, discover tracks of moose and elk along the Tittabawassee River and realize a lynx is following our trail. Animal mounts, furs and an exquisite Passenger Pigeon carving will spark your imagination and bring these amazing stories to life.

Lake Superior Journey with Bela Hubbard

In 1840, a party of scientists surveyed Michigan’s rugged and remote shoreline of Lake Superior. Join Kyle in his first-person portrayal of expedition member Bela Hubbard, Assistant to the State Geologist. Using words from Hubbard’s own journals, this exciting journey will come to life among the cliffs and outcroppings, trees and wildlife, traders and Native peoples he encountered along the route. The report on their trip to the region set off the mineral rush to Copper Country that changed the face of the Upper Peninsula forever.

From Shiawassee to Spotsylvania: Private John Loyer of Michigan's Fighting Fifth

On May 12, 1864, a Michigan farm boy lay wounded on a Virginia battlefield. Join Kyle Bagnall in a costumed, first-person presentation based on the life of Civil War soldier John Loyer. You’ll follow his footsteps from life as a mid-Michigan farmhand through harrowing experiences in one of the bloodiest campaigns of the War. Learn about the amazing Anna Etheridge, life in a Union Hospital and receiving a homestead claim on a Midland County farm. Join this Union Veteran for an hour you’ll never forget.

About the Presenter

Kyle W. Bagnall received a Bachelor of Arts in Public History from Western Michigan University in 1993. Since 1995, he has worked as Manager of Historical Programs at CNC, designing and presenting environmental history programs on topics such Woodland Indian life, agriculture, fur trade, lumbering, surveying and settlement. Kyle has presented Bela Hubbard programs throughout Michigan since 2005, Ephraim Williams programs since 2011 and introduced the John Loyer program in 2013.