The Teaching Tree

By Seth Huntington Our new birchbark canoe was nearly complete with its first launch a few weeks away. Six new canoe paddles are needed, so the novice paddle maker took the rough sawn tree boards and roughed out six blanks. In time, five of the blanks were carved into usable, but not yet finished paddles. […]

Baby’s First Blueberries: A Quetico Adventure

Written and published by Raven Words Press. Late July is a great time for canoe tripping in the border country—the lakes are warm enough for long swims, the black flies are mostly gone, the mosquitoes usually don’t come out until sunset, and the blueberries are ripe. Picking blueberries always reminds me of the year we […]

The Ely Folk School Mercantile is open

Written by Alexia Springer Some of you may remember a few years back when the Ely Folk School had a mercantile. Unfortunately, I do not but I am pleased to announce that the mercantile is being revived and items are starting to become available for purchase. Slow and steady wins the race due to limited […]

The Magic in Being Creative

Written by Instructor John Kopp Creativity doesn’t come from a piece of us but from the whole of us. I find myself thinking these words as I wonder about the creativity responsible for the class “Writing with Your Child for Your Child”, a class that has as much focus on the joy of being together […]

Celebrating Irish Culture

Written by Nora Rickey Níl an earraigh ach timpeall an chúinne! Or, “spring is just around the corner,” in Irish Gaelic!  As a person with Irish heritage, I am always looking for ways to explore my ancestry. In college, I was an Irish studies minor and completed a BFA in drama. I spent many hours […]

Nobody does winter better!

The Ely Winter Festival is a 10-day celebration of winter, life outdoors, and the people who live here. Events have changed over the years, but the passion people have for this event has never faded.  Dealing with the cold weather is a common complaint for many. If you live in Ely year round, you have […]

Gaining a Connection to Place Through Cleaning

Written by Nora Rickey, Assistant Program Coordinator I met with Ely Folk School’s volunteer cleaning crew right before we closed for the holidays, and had a lovely time interviewing them about their experience. I asked each member what brought them to the folk school, and what they gained from the experience of volunteering. Each person […]

Calling All Volunteers

Written by Nora Rickey I was raised in an Irish Catholic family and attended Catholic school from Kindergarten through the end of high school. In my schools, giving back to the community was a fundamental element to my religious education. For class projects, we were instructed to find an impactful organization where we could donate […]

Leino Forge at the Ely Folk School

Blacksmithing is the art of forging metal using high heat, tools like hammers,  anvils, and vices to make objects like hooks, hammer, nails, and more. Before the Industrial Revolution, most towns had a local blacksmith. Emil A. Leino, born in Finland in around 1877, moved to Ely, Minnesota and was known around town as the […]


Wiigwaasi-Jiimaan (Birch Bark Canoe) In recent years there has been a movement to learn about Anishinaabemowin and traditional skills including how to build a wiigwaasi-jiimaan. The Birch Bark Canoe Project (BBCP), at the Ely Folk School, is a gathering place of valuable knowledge for the Ely area community and those traveling through.  The birch bark canoe is an […]