A Day of Learning

Canada #34 Musée huron-wendat, Wendake

After exploring the banks of the Akiawenrahk River and wandering through the First Nations reserve of Wendake, we were curious about the history of the Huron-Wendat Nation. The Musée huron-wendat was the perfect place for us to learn about this matriarchal society.

The museum, opened in 2008, showcases the history and culture of the Huron-Wendat people. Exhibitions of indigenous arts and crafts, beautifully decorated with beads and feathers, tell stories of the ancestors. Clothing and jewellery, household items and hunting tools explain traditional ways of life. They are displayed with photographs and explanations in the words of the people who made and used them.

The Ekionkiestha’ longhouse, where as many as 60 people from one clan would have lived, stands behind a tall protective palisade. The longhouse is made from white birch and alder trees; the lengths of timber and wide strips of bark would all have been gathered when the site was first cleared.

While the men were builders, hunters and fishers, the women of the clan tended abundant gardens, providing up to 80% of their food supply.

The garden beds surrounding the longhouse were filled with crops. The “Three Sisters” combination of corn, beans and squash grew together, companion planting at its best. The corn stalks provided support for the climbing beans, the beans renewed nitrogen in the soil and the large leaves of the squash plants shaded the soil, keeping weeds to a minimum. Jerusalem artichokes and sunflowers also flourished in the garden.

Inside the longhouse it was cool and dim, with light only entering through the narrow doorway. Platform beds lined the walls, furs piled high ready for sleeping. Cooking fires glowed as tendrils of smoke drifted up to the high domed roof.

Standing in the longhouse, it was easy to imagine families gathering together at the end of the day, children playing while the evening meal was prepared. The Musée huron-wendat brought the culture of the Huron-Wendat Nation to life for us in a way that reading never could.


26 thoughts on “A Day of Learning

  1. Did you meet any Native Americans there? Who pieced together all the information to make the museum, I wonder?

    It’s such a contrast with life in the West today – to think of a community depending on one another and working together.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The museum staff were all Huron-Wendat and we did a guided tour with a delightful young woman who gave us lots of interesting information, on a professional and more personal level. We enjoyed spending time with her.


  2. This was an amazing historical adventure. I would have loved it! I always find it fascinating to be reminded how creative our ancestors were and how they excelled by thinking outside the box and using good common sense. This spring our MG group gave a school gardening grant to a teacher so her class could start a three sisters garden. Their influence is still being seen today. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The museum and grounds appear so well done. I agree that reading of the history could never do such justice to this rich history. Fascinating to hear about the three sisters in the garden and how the plants each have benefits to the others.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. How interesting about the matriarchal society of the Huron-Wendat Nation. It is so great to learn about such things by visiting sites preserved for educational purposes. That’s why I love visiting our National Parks so much. I always learn something new!

    Liked by 1 person

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