To really appreciate a city, it helps to have a historical background on the place. In Quebec, that can easily be accomplished by a short, 15-minute drive north from the city center to Wendake, home of the Huron-Wendat Nation. (pronounced When – dock’ – ee)
When first discovered by outsiders in the early 1600’s, the Wendat peoples were called the “Huron” by the French. Actually, the Wendat have traced their roots to well before then, back to 1430 when the Wendat Confederation was formed. In 1697, the present town of Wendake was founded.
The Wendat people struggled for recognition for hundreds of years as their lands were usurped by the British and the French. Finally, in 1990, the Supreme Court of Canada recognized a much earlier treaty, promising assistance with many socio-economic programs in Wendake. The promise was kept and resulted in the Hotel-Musee Premieres Nations – a combination hotel, restaurant and museum.
The museum traces the history of the region back to 500AD when agriculture began to be practiced around the Great Lakes. In a unique, architecturally interesting round museum, the exhibits are extremely well done and very informative. (Photography is not allowed.)
Nearby are a couple other buildings worth your time if they are open. The Notre-Dame-de-Lorette church is designated as a historic monument, and has some interesting dioramas showing life in the early days. Across the street, you’ll find the Tsawenhohi House (the Chief’s House) where lots of handmade crafts are on display along with explanatory historical signage. The Wendat are known for their snowshoes.
Wendake is not just about museums – to the contrary – there are beautiful places to see and things to do outside as well. The Kabir Kouba Falls is a roaring 28 meter high waterfall, cascading down into a 42 meter deep canyon.
Hikers will love Quebec’s longest hiking trail that starts at the St. Lawrence River and continues 32 km to the St. Charles Lake. Wendake is roughly 2/3 of the way north, so you can proceed either direction to see wildlife, beautiful flora and views of the canyon.
A bike path will take you past award winning plant sculptures of the eight animals representing the eight clans of the Wendat Nation. The multipurpose bike trail is 44km round trip.
After all that activity, you’ll probably want a hot shower and great meal. The four-star Hotel-Musee Premieres Nations has 55 rooms and suites. Decorated with authentic First Nation artwork, all the rooms look out onto the scenic Akiawenrahk River. Rooms are well appointed with goose down duvets, Keurig coffee pots, small refrigerators, flat screen 40” TV’s, French balconies and high speed Internet.
The La Traite Restaurant specializes in locally raised produce, harvested herbs and greens from the boreal forest and wild game. With all the daily selections, it’s hard to choose just one. An extensive wine collection is sure to have something as the perfect accompaniment to your meal, and don’t miss their beautiful desserts. Arriving on Sunday? They’ve got a great Sunday brunch.
Hotel-Musee Premieres Nations
5 Place of Meeting “Ekionkiestha ‘”
Wendake (Quebec) G0A 4V0
Hotel Reservations 418-847-2222
La Traite Reservations 418-847-0624 x2012
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