Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons

Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons, Midland: Hours, Address, Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons Reviews: 4.5/5

Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons

Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons
4.5
Wednesday
10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Thursday
10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Friday
10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Saturday
10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Sunday
10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
About
Ontario's first European Community, Sainte-Marie among the Hurons was the headquarters for the French Jesuit Mission to the Huron Wendat people. In 1639, the Jesuits, along with French lay workers, began construction of a fenced community that included barracks, a church, workshops, residences, and a sheltered area for Native visitors. By 1648, Sainte-Marie was a wilderness home to 66 French men, representing one-fifth of the entire population of New France. Sainte-Marie's brief history ended in 1649, when members of the mission community were forced to abandon and burn their home of nearly 10 years. After extensive archaeological and historical research, Sainte-Marie among the Hurons is now recreated on its original site, where the mission's compelling story is brought to life.
Suggested duration
1-2 hours
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Canadian_Guy1000
Toronto, Canada2,706 contributions
First European settlement in the current province of Ontario
Aug. 2021
I have to say that I am a little embarrassed that having lived in Ontario for 39 years, it was the first time I visited this place!

A brief history:

The French Jesuits began construction of a community in 1639 which included barracks, a church, workshops, residences and a sheltered area for Indigenous visitors. The village existed from 1639 to 1649 and it was the first European settlement in the current province of Ontario. Between 1642 and 1649, eight of the missionaries were martyred in the Huron-Iroquois war. The bodies of St. Jean de Brébeuf and St. Gabriel Lalemant are buried at the mission.
In 1649, the missionaries decided to burn the mission, as they feared it would be conquered and desecrated by Iroquois.
Sainte-Marie was reconstructed as a historical site and a living museum in 1964.

The Martyrs' Shrine is located just across the road. The shrine houses the bones of St. Jean de Brébeuf, St. Gabriel Lalemant, and St. Charles Garnier. Because of COVID-19, it was closed to the public in 2020 and 2021, although it was still possible to arrange a private/group/family tour.

Probably because of COVID-19, there were not too many visitors and thus I was able to leisurely explore all the buildings and talk to the friendly & knowledgeable museum employees, who were wearing period clothing and were engaged in some of the activities the original inhabitants of the village had performed some 360 years ago. There was a Native lady in the St. Joseph’s Church who told us a lot of interesting facts about history and her own life. The graves of St. Jean de Brébeuf and St. Gabriel Lalemant were located in this church. The Jesuits sometimes celebrate mass in that church.

This is an excellent place not only to learn about history, but experience it firsthand. The museum has plenty of interesting exhibits and artifacts.

There is also a small souvenir shop, but I was quite disappointed at the poor selection and exorbitant prices: a simple postcard cost $4.99!

Overall, this is an amazing museum and I am looking forward to visiting it again next year!

Canadian poet E. J. Pratt (1882-1964) in 1940 wrote “Brébeuf and his Brethren”, an epic on the mission of Jean de Brébeuf and his seven fellow Jesuits to the Hurons, their founding of Sainte-Marie-Among-the-Hurons, and their eventual martyrdom by the Iroquois. He was awarded one of his three Governor General’s Award for Poetry the same year. This is how Pratt’s poem describes the foundation of the Sainte-Marie mission:

"The migrant habits of the Indians
With their desertion of the villages
Through pressure of attack or want of food
Called for a central site where undisturbed
The priests with their attendants might pursue
Their culture, gather strength from their devotions,
Map out the territory, plot the routes,
Collate their weekly notes and write their letters.
The roll was growing -- priests and colonists,
Lay brothers offering services for life.
For on the ground or on their way to place
Themselves at the command of Lalemant,
Superior, were (…). And so to house
Them all the Residence -- Fort Sainte Marie!
Strategic as a base for trade or war
The site received the approval of Quebec,
Was ratified by Richelieu who saw
Commerce and exploration pushing west,
Fulfilling the long vision of Champlain --
'Greater New France beyond those inland seas.'
The fort was built, two hundred feet by ninety,
Upon the right bank of the River Wye:
Its north and eastern sides of masonry,
Its south and west of double palisades,
And skirted by a moat, ran parallel
To stream and lake. Square bastions at the corners,
Watch-towers with magazines and sleeping posts,
Commanded forest edges and canoes
That furtively came up the Matchedash,
And on each bastion was placed a cross.
Inside, the Fathers built their dwelling house,
No longer the bark cabin with the smoke
Ill-trained to work its exit through the roof,
But plank and timber -- at each end a chimney
Of lime and granite field-stone. Rude it was
But clean, capacious, full of twilight calm.
Across the south canal fed by the river,
Ringed by another palisade were buildings
Offering retreat to Indian fugitives
Whenever war and famine scourged the land."

For those who are REALLY into history, there are two additional places connected to the Sainte-Marie:

From Sainte-Marie among the Hurons I drove to the national historic site of Canada, SAINT-LOUIS MISSION. The missionaries Jean de Brébeuf and Gabriel Lalement were captured there when the village was attacked by the Iroquois on March 16, 1649. There is a cairn with a historical plaque and an interpretive sign.

Then I drove to the nearby MISSION OF ST. IGNACE II National Historic Site. Following the capture of the missionaries Jean de Brébeuf and Gabriel Lalemant at Saint-Louis mission, they were brought back to Saint Ignace II and killed here. Unfortunately, the gate was closed and I was unable to visit the actual site. I understand that there is just a farmland and an interpretive sign.
Written October 3, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Paul S
Hamilton, ON7 contributions
Absolutey beautiful - The site is outstanding - The staff is most helpful and knowledgeable
Sep. 2021
We had a unforgettable visit of this unique historical site. The site is beautiful and built exactly where the old Sainte-Marie mission was located. Based on the foundations, all buildings have been restored. When destroyed in 1649, this was the second largest town in Canada.

The staff present was most knowledgeable, pleasant, and helpful. Despite we know quite well canadian history, we learned a lot. We learned much on fathers Brebeuf and Lallemand, on agriculture during Huron time, how to make a real birch bark canoe, manufacturing methods of the time, etc. Overall, it may very well be the best visit we ever had of a museum.

We send our best wishes to the staff that made our visit most memorable.
Written September 19, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Bridget M
22 contributions
Good History
Sep. 2020 • Couples
Good piece of history. Didn't know about the Wendats. Self guided so very quiet to look around. Some things were closed because of Covid
Written September 17, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

b0b55russell
Orillia, Canada1,262 contributions
Free For First Responders
Aug. 2020
This historic location offers free admission if you are a First Responder. They just took my word as I could have shown proof of this. Self guided tour and your own leisurely pace. It has been a number of years since I have been here but I was here in the 1980's with good church friends of mine. Not much has changed but gives one a good idea of hoe the French Faith People and First Nations People lived together in the area. FYI I even gave people from China a history lesson regarding this place in which they thanked me. Lot s of parents with their kids giving them a lesson in early Canadian history. Good to see as this is the real deal compared to reading it in a history book!
Written August 31, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

traveler27Ontario
Midland, Canada32 contributions
Pioneer Times
Apr. 2019
Great place to learn about the rich history of the area. See how they lived in the early years of the area. Learn about their culture, foods, etc. Keep track of the special events throughout the year, eg maple surup festival," First light in Dec". Worth attending.
Written January 19, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Carrie C
1 contribution
Very Disappointing First Light
Dec. 2019
First there was only one sign to explain that you had to take shuttle from Walmart and the OPP refused to interact with drivers other than to wave them past. Only when you turned around and came back towards Midland did you see the one sign that had been placed.
Second they have replaced one of the interactions with a candy shop right in the historical park! And closed some of the more interesting buildings. Didn't really understand why they had miniature ponies in the barn instead of a sample of the animals that would have been there like in past years.
Third we went again this year because the children remembered it being magical with free hot chocolate and a tiny lavender cookie in previous years. This time they were charging $1 for the cocoa (in spite of the hefty $40 admission for a family of four) and had apparently run out of cookies. I really did not like the fact that the hot chocolate came with plastic lids. And the girl at the cabin, where the cookies had been, accused the children of coming back for seconds of the cookies because how else could they have known they had had them available earlier? Kids were heartbroken and have decided that they don't need to ever go again.
I'm not sure how serious any of these complaints sound :) but combined with the larger number of people and the jostling in line for the shuttles to and from the parking it really was very disappointing this year.
Written December 8, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

helenduvall47
London, UK52 contributions
Magical
Nov. 2019 • Couples
I was fortunate to visit during an event called First Light with my husband. This happens during three weekends of the year, where the paths and buildings are illuminated with five thousand candles.On arriving you purchase a ticket for ten dollars each and are directed to a huge area full of local vendors selling hand made goods. I bought mittens, ,chocolates,pickles and some wonderful native canadian items. I could have bought more but hubby intervened!
After this we went to the outside area beautifully illuminated with just lanterns and open fires.The fort itself considered of wooden buildings each with entertainment inside. One building had a blacksmith showing his trade, another tables filled with quills and Ink for you to practice old style calligraphy. Others were full of entertainers singing while we basked in the warmth of huge open fires. A stable contained a few goats and two miniature horses who were shielded from too much attention but they could choose to come over and be stroked. Fresh corn cookies were handed out from a kitchen area full of old kitchen equipment such as a large butter churn.The path of lanterns led us onwards towards the martyrs shrine,a beautiful and mystical walk uphill dominated by the imposing prescience of the Shrine itself. Jesuit martyrs are buried there and the relics are held in the church itself which I had visited previously. The grounds there are full of pilgrimage places from people worldwide and well worth the visit. Back to First Light, we finally reached the shrine which had some vendors with Toffee maple syrup, a delectable treat of cooked maple syrup pored on to ice and then handed to you on a stick.
Santa was also present in a seperate building with his elves, and children were heading there with glee. My husband and I headed for the cafe next to the shrine were he had two monster hotdogs with all the dressings and I had some delicious chips. After a rest we headed back through the downward path, revisited a few of the buildings and made ourselves a promise to come back and visit the museum on site at another time.
You still have a chance to go if you can get to this event as it goes from the 4th December for that weekend. However if you can't the whole site is wonderful to visit anytime of year with its recreation of historical events and it's incredibly important historic associations. One word of advice it may be closed after First Light until spring but please check their website for details.

Written November 30, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

patbennett2016
Georgina, Canada191 contributions
First light celebrations
Nov. 2019
We have gone there for five years now. First light is a must, beautiful with over 5000 lanterns / candles. The smell of wood burning in a campfire immediately brings a smile to my face. Vendors, restaurant with french canadian and native food. Entertainment.
Written November 25, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Syllygirl1945
Barrie, Canada26 contributions
A memorable day
Oct. 2019
A senior, an adult and a five year old spent the better part of a Saturday at Sauinte-Marie Among the Hurons. It was such a happy experience to see how much the five-year old got out of the experience. Walking around with a tour phone, he punched in the numbers of each building and patiently listened to the description of each site. He loved making a homemade candle, decorating a pumpkin, cooking bannock on a stick over a fire. Children love to learn and to absorb new things, and it was that kind of an experience for all. Besides it was Thanksgiving weekend, the last until Christmas at Sainte-Marie, and there were lots of vendors and hand-made crafts on view and for sale. We will be going back many times in future. It was well worth the drive from Barrie, and truly a chance to experience a different period in time.
Written October 12, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Kevin L
Tiny, Canada228 contributions
Great historic location
Nov. 2018
Anyone interested in 1600’s history of Canada and the life of some of the first Europeans in Ontario will find this place very interesting. The First Light Festival in the holiday season is a wonderful time to visit the site. The 1000’s of candles brings a different view to this historic site. There is the museum and all the outer buildings that are period authentic. Lots of fun activities for the kids
Written October 8, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons is open:
  • Wed - Sun 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
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