Indians and Jesuits in Sainte-Marie among the Hurons

Sainte-Marie among the Hurons

Sainte-Marie among the Hurons


In Midland there is a museum village, where the life of the Iroquois Indians and Jesuits at the beginning of the colonization of Ontario is vividly shown. It has long been on the wish list of our destinations. Once because we are very interested in the Indian culture and the colonial history of Canada. For another, because the region around Lake Huron was previously unknown to us. That's why a few years ago we went on a tour around the eastern part of the lake. In Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, just outside Midland, a missionary village of the Jesuits has been faithfully reconstructed. This gives a very good insight into the life of the French missionaries on the edge of the wilderness. It also shows how living together with the Indians on the south bank of Georgian Bay once worked.

 

That's how the Hurons lived in Ontario
That's how the Hurons lived in Ontario

 

The Indian tribe of Huron Wendat in Ontario

The Indian tribe of the Huron Wendat once lived in the region of today's Midland. They call their home as Wendake, "the country that is different from others". The Huron Wendat lived mainly from agriculture and trade. In the 17th century, the Jesuit missionaries finally came to this region on the southern shore of Lake Huron. Women played an important role in the hurons. After all, the tribe was organized matrilinearly. This means that the children's family belonged to the maternal line. Men definitely married into the women's family. They left their own family in the event of marriage.

 

Kitchen of the Jesuits in Sainte-Marie among the Hurons
Kitchen of the Jesuits in Sainte-Marie among the Hurons

 

The Jesuits in Wendake, Ontario

Canada as we know it today did not exist in the 17th century. The European settlements were limited to New France. These are the regions along the St. Lorenz, from where fur traders, missionaries and adventurers set off for the west. They did this to collect skins. They also wanted to bring the "pagan" Indians the Christian faith and the European "civilization" and discover new settlement areas. That is why fur traders and voyageurs pushed their canoes ever further into the West. Adventurers and explorers instead explored new areas in the west and south for the French settlers. After all, the missionaries were interested in establishing long-term contacts with the Indian population. However, this was only possible if they lived among them. They chose this path especially if they wanted to successfully pursue their goals of missioning and training the Indian tribes.

 

You have grown pumpkins
You have grown pumpkins

 

The Jesuits in the Indian country

1200 kilometers away from Quebec's capital of New France, the Jesuits finally ventured their adventure. They built a palisade village in the middle of Indian land. For ten years, they converted the members of the Huron Wendat to the Christian faith. At the same time, they lived with them in a community that could provide for themselves. Hunting, fishing and growing agricultural products provided the things that were necessary for survival. A remarkable achievement considering the distance to other European settlements in New France.

From 1649 attacks of other Iroquois tribes, however, increased more and more. Eventually, the Jesuits and their followers among the Hurons were forced to give up their settlement. After ten years of successful coexistence, they burned down their village. Instead, they tried to re-establish their community on St. Joseph Island. However, without success, the aggression of the Iroquois did not diminish. Afterwards, the missionaries and their Native American followers retreated to the region around Quebec. The Wendake first lived on the island of Ile d'Orleans at the gates of Quebec. Even there, however, they did not leave the Iroquois alone. They then founded Loretteville or Wendake north of Quebec, where they still live today.

 

The best defenses did not help
The best defenses did not help

 

Why visit the Sainte-Marie Museum among the Hurons?

We spent almost a whole day in the museum village Sainte-Marie among the Hurons. The museum village convinced us with its authentic reconstruction of life in 17. Century. Even herbs grown on the ceiling hang in the kitchen. Pumpkins, beans and corn from the flower beds in the village garden still make visitors' mouth water. These once tasted excellent to the chickens and pigs that were bred there.

The missionaries and their Indian friends did not have to do without anything. If it had not been for the constant threat of the hostile neighbors among the Iroquois tribes, they would have lived a wonderful life. However, one senses the fear of the attacks that prevailed among the inhabitants of the village. I can well understand how hard the life of missionaries and their Native American converts must have been.

 

Huron longhouse
Huron longhouse

Travel Arrangements:

Getting there:

Air Canada, Lufthansa, Condor and Icelandair fly from Germany to Toronto.

Car Rentals:
Cheap car hire - book quickly and easily!

Hotels:

For a visit to Sainte-Marie among the Hurons one sleeps best in Midland and surroundings *, Finally, you can book hotels and motels online by clicking on the link.


 

Source: own research on site (we financed this trip ourselves)

Text: © Copyright Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline
Photos: © Copyright Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline

Indians and Jesuits in Sainte-Marie among the Hurons

4 thoughts too "Indians and Jesuits in Sainte-Marie among the Hurons"

  1. I also got to know the matriarchal family form of the First Nations during our visits to the west coast of CAND. It is very interesting to talk to the modern First Nations about how they understand family. It's still more about extended families, clans. I find that very fascinating.

    1. That's right, Sabine. For the Iroquois, the women were in charge. Their social structure even had an influence on European societies. A short overview gives it in this article.

    1. Canadian museum villages are "Living History Museums", in which history comes to life. That is exactly what we like there. There are no lectures and no showcases, but you can immerse yourself in times past.

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