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Sainte Marie among the Hurons


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September 2014.

Sainte-Marie among the Hurons was a French Jesuit settlement in Wendake, the land of the Wendat, near modern Midland, Ontario, from 1639 to 1649. It was the first European settlement in what is now the province of Ontario.

Recently, St. Philip’s members had the opportunity and privilege to join Maranatha Lutheran Church on their yearly bus trip—this time to Midland and the Martyr’s Shrine. The Sunday  was Holy Cross Day, which their pastor, Peter Kuhnert, said was a fitting trip on such a day.

We left St. Philip parking lot only a few minutes after our proposed departure time, and with a prayer for safe travel and thoughts to ponder if we had been living at the time of the Jesuit missionaries to the Wendat people, whom the priests came to call the Hurons.



bus group startOur travelling group for the day with Marjorie in the middle



signOn the way there, for the first while, we watched the scenery go by and chatted with our seat mates. Tradition on their bus trips includes singing their way to the destination and so we sang favourites of Maranatha members. As well as those songs, we sang the Huron Carol, written by Father Jean de Brébeuf in the 1600s. Pastor Peter Kuhnert also gave us some history on the settlement.




Tour guide Our tour guides Emily, dressed as a French worker who would  have come along with the priests, and      Autumn (behind the desk), clothed in typical garb of a native woman at the time (mid 1640s).


guideOur tour begins.







bus group







foodDried food hanging from the ceiling.

We learned that the Wendat people ate their food plain whereas the Jesuits used spices to flavour their    food. The Huron people did not see why the French would use spices in their food. To them, spices were  medicine.



bedThe spaces were small and the beds not so long either, apparently too short for Pastor Peter.



chapelRather ornate altar in the working chapel where the priests came very early in the morning to stand  and pray to God.



roof Our guide showing us how to make cedar shingles for the roof.



waterwayEven our well-versed guide was not sure about what these waterways were meant to do– and it wasn’t  to bring the canoes into the settlement from the outside. That would have taken too long. Might it have  been for irrigation? Did they have gardens they needed to water?



pastoe peterPastor Peter Kuhnert at the mission. Other members from the bus trip stop to talk.







ruby wash Ruby is thankful for her washing machine at home. Scrubbing clothing on a washboard is a lot more  work. On the other hand, there would be no French women along on this mission. Did the men do the  laundry here?





alter The chapel where the priests led services for the Hurons and other French people who had come to  work. See the vestments on the left, the elaborate altar cloths and candles. Communion bread was put in  that little door on the altar.



shrineThe Martyr’s Shrine.  It  looked rather imposing and glorious in the sun. The shrine was built in 1926. There’s much to see here.




stained glass pic

Stained glass window of the Wendat chief teaching Brébeuf about living in this land.




We had our Sunday service in the Filion Centre on the basement level of the church. The message was more of a reflection and discussion on how the tour had affected us and what was particularly impressing to us.

At the close of worship, hymn books were gathered and we boarded the bus for the ride home. We’d been  fortunate to have good weather and awesome tour guides.




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