Une homme métis qui démontre la méthode traditionelle autochtones de commencer un feu. Il souffle sur un braise dans un morceau d'écorce de bouleau. C'est la nuit et il en entouré de chandelles en crocs.

First Light returns for three weekends

Historic Sainte-Marie illuminates history with magical holiday event

November 8, 2023

MIDLAND, ON – First Light is returning to historic Sainte-Marie among the Hurons in Midland, Ontario. Huronia Historical Parks will transform the reconstructed 17th century mission into a magical holiday experience, illuminating the historic site with thousands of candles. The event will take place over three weekends this year: November 16 to 18, November 23 to 25 and November 30 to December 2 from 5:30 to 9 p.m.

Guests will make festive memories as First Light transports them back in time to a world of holiday charm with live musical performers, unique activities, and lively historic demonstrations. Guided by lantern-lit pathways, visitors will enjoy the historic buildings, dressed up for the holiday season with fresh greenery and festive décor – all bathed in the beautiful amber glow of cozy fires and more than 5,000 candles.

“First Light at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons is a magical, one-of-a-kind experience for people of all ages in a beautiful, historical setting. The variety of sights, family friendly events and activities will create life-long memories for all visitors. It should be a part of everyone’s winter season plans.”

Neil Lumsden, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport

Une femme qui joue la harpe pendant les premières lueurs à Sainte-Marie. Elle est sur une estrade dans l'église Saint-Joseph, illuminée par des douzaines de bougies

For those who enjoy holiday shopping, more than 40 exceptional crafters and artisans will be located throughout the Brébeuf Event Centre, indoor museum and grounds. Sainte-Marie’s Flint and Timber Gift Shop will also be open and offering charming holiday finds, including souvenir First Light travel mugs.

Returning performers include Ruth Sutherland playing traditional harp music in the historic Church of Saint-Joseph, hand drumming by Chris Walser in the longhouse, and the energetic fan favourite, Doug Feaver, performing holiday folk tunes in the restaurant. Activities for families include quill pen writing, candle-making demonstrations, storytelling and much more.

-	Lanterns with candles line the paths at historic Sainte-Marie among the Hurons

Guests will be invited to cozy up to their loved ones outside as fireworks light up the night on Friday evenings at 7 p.m.

The Martyrs Shrine’s Big Canoe Food Truck and local favourite Grounded Coffee Co, will offer a unique foodie experience on the Sainte-Marie patio. Hot chocolate and freshly popped popcorn will also be available for purchase on the historic site and in the restaurant.

“I’ve experienced First Light many times, and it always manages to bring that touch of holiday magic to the festive season. There’s a reason so many families choose to make it an annual tradition.”

-Will Baird, General Manager of Huronia Historical Parks

First Light has strong ties to community groups, and many will be involved in this year’s celebration. Community choirs will lift holiday spirits with performances on November 16, 23 and 30. Community organizations like the Wye Marsh will be offering presentations and demonstrations throughout the event. Sainte-Marie among the Hurons also asks that visitors bring non-perishable food donations, with the goal of filling a large canoe in support of the local Salvation Army Food Drive.

Huronia Historical Parks would also like to thank the generosity of sponsors: Tay Township, Newmarket Tay Hydro, Bourgeois Midland Nissan, Factory Recreation, Garraway’s Electrical Services, Charles Morden Construction Inc, H.S. St. Amant & Sons Inc., Fred Hook Ltd., Huronia Alarm & Fire Security Inc., Georgian Bay Tree Farms as well as KoolFM and Rock95.

Parking will be available at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, as well as Walmart in Midland, where shuttle buses will be running throughout each of the nine evenings.

For more information, or to buy tickets for First Light, please visit SainteMarie-events.ca. Walk-ins are also welcome. Guests aren’t required to make a reservation or purchase advance tickets.

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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 workshops, residences, and a sheltered area for Indigenous visitors. It was abandoned and burned down in 1649. Thanks to extensive archaeological and historical research, Sainte-Marie is now recreated on its original site, where the mission’s story is brought to life with costumed historical interpreters, events, education programs and more. 

PHOTO CAPTIONS:

  • Ruth Sutherland plays traditional harp in the Church of Saint-Joseph at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons.
  • Lanterns with candles line the paths at historic Sainte-Marie among the Hurons.

MEDIA CONTACT:

  • Mikaela Lefaive, Marketing and Media Relations Coordinator, Sainte-Marie among the Hurons 16164 Highway 12 East, PO Box 100, Midland ON, L4R 4K6 Mikaela.lefaive@ontario.ca and 705-427-2564

Hometown Harvest Festival at Sainte-Marie offers fall family fun

September 28, 2023

MIDLAND, ON – Celebrate the wonder of the fall season at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons with the annual Hometown Harvest Festival on Thanksgiving weekend: October 7 and 8.

This family-friendly festival celebrates the harvest. It includes an artisan fair with artisans and crafters, as well as fun historical demonstrations, take-home crafts, and opportunities to participate in historical activities. New this year, guests will also enjoy live music from local musician Doug Feaver.

“Every year, Sainte-Marie among the Hurons pulls out all the stops to deliver the Hometown Harvest Festival – and this year is no different. This family-friendly event will be the perfect opportunity to celebrate the fall season in Ontario, while enjoying a variety of fun activities, delicious home-grown food and shopping.”

Neil Lumsden, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport

Come visit the historic site, decorated for autumn. Don’t forget to stop and say hello to the historic mission’s heritage cows, chickens and pigs – a must see for all ages!

“This festival a favourite for fall lovers. If you’re looking for an activity to do with your loved ones on Thanksgiving weekend, Sainte-Marie is the place to be.”

-Will Baird, General Manager of Huronia Historical Parks

The harvest season is one celebrated by many cultures around the world, including First Nations, and Indigenous Peoples here in Ontario.

“This time of year would have been significant for both the Jesuits and the Huron-Wendat people who lived here in the 17th century. That’s why we continue to celebrate it at Sainte-Marie today.”

– Chad Moreau, Operations Manager, Sainte-Marie among the Hurons

October 8 is also the last day of Sainte-Marie’s summer season. With the exception of educational programs, the Hometown Harvest Festival is the last opportunity to visit Sainte-Marie among the Hurons until their holiday event: First Light.

Tickets for the Hometown Harvest Festival are $12 per person, tax included, and children five and under are free. First Nations, Métis and Inuit visitors can also enter the site for free, as can members of the Canadian Armed Forces, both with valid ID.

Visitors can learn more about the Hometown Harvest Festival, and buy tickets, at saintemarieamongthehurons.on.ca/events.

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 workshops, residences, and a sheltered area for Indigenous visitors. It was abandoned and burned down in 1649. Thanks to extensive archaeological and historical research, Sainte-Marie is now recreated on its original site, where the mission’s story is brought to life with costumed historical interpreters, events, education programs and more. 

PHOTO CAPTIONS:

  • A seasonal historical interpreter cooks chicken on an open fire in Sainte-Marie’s north court at the 2022 Hometown Harvest Festival.
  • A child makes a birdfeeder with lard, seeds, and a pinecone at the 2022 Hometown Harvest Festival.
  • A guest tests out her lacrosse skills during the 2022 Hometown Harvest Festival’s speed net challenge.
  • An array of pumpkins and gourds on display inside the cookhouse at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons in 2022.

MEDIA CONTACT:

  • Mikaela Lefaive, Marketing and Media Relations Coordinator, Sainte-Marie among the Hurons 16164 Highway 12 East, PO Box 100, Midland ON, L4R 4K6 Mikaela.lefaive@ontario.ca and 705-427-2564

Sainte-Marie among the Hurons honours National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Historic site offers commemorative educational programming

September 19, 2023

MIDLAND, ON: National Day for Truth and Reconciliation recognizes the legacy of the Canadian Indian residential school system, and it respectfully honours the survivors and those who never came home, as well as their families and communities. It is the responsibility of present and future generations to acknowledge this history and legacy through education, care and open dialogue. In support of the recognition of this dark period in Canadian history and its lasting, cumulative, multigenerational effects on Indigenous peoples, Sainte-Marie among the Hurons is committed to acknowledging and advocating for the empowerment of these stories through empathy, respect and understanding. On September 30, the historic site will be hosting a day of commemoration and reflection and will be offering the opportunity for all to focus on their own journey toward Truth and Reconciliation. Sainte-Marie will also be providing a free virtual learning platform from September 25 to October 5 online at hhp-events.ca to support and continue this important work.

“September 30th marks National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and is a day dedicated to reflecting on the impacts of the Canadian Indian Residential School system. The programming provided by Sainte-Marie among the Hurons gives us an opportunity to learn about Indigenous culture. I encourage everyone to visit Midland to participate and educate themselves to help further the dialogue on truth and reconciliation.”

– Neil Lumsden, Minister of Tourism Culture and Sport

Sainte-Marie among the Hurons offers free commemorative programming both in person and online to mark National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The program will consist of conversations with leaders on reconciliation, discussions about Indigenous foodways and crafts and places for thoughtful reflection. This day of commemoration will honour Truth and Reconciliation through a provocative journey and the empowerment of Indigenous voices and cultural revitalization activities.

A sampling of these activities will include an inclusive opening ceremony in which the sacred fire will be lit to provide participants the opportunity to present cedar offerings. The historic site will also offer participants the opportunity to build knowledge and respect for Indigenous cultural traditions, including the importance of medicinal plants and the creation of a medicine pouch.

“Today, and every day, we recognize Canada’s dark chapter in history and work towards reconciliation by moving forward with respect, empathy and understanding with Indigenous partners. We take every opportunity to recognize and amplify Indigenous stories to provide opportunities for learning, and I am thankful that the Sainte-Marie historical site will be providing this in-person and virtual learning platform for visitors to reflect on.”

– Greg Rickford, Minister of Indigenous Affairs.
Orange T-shirt cut outs with the words "every child matters"

As part of the participants’ journey, the 94 Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada will be exhibited with the hope of providing thoughtful steps forward for individuals. The interactive Indigenous Floor Map, provided by Canadian Geographic, will include tools for learning about the impacts of residential schools, as well as the resilience of Indigenous Peoples and their unique cultures throughout North America.

To honour survivors of the residential school system, and those who never came home, Sainte-Marie’s historical interpreters and staff will wear orange. Admission will be free to all First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples.

The online portion of this initiative will be streamed live on September 25 with opening ceremonies followed by learning sessions led by First Nations leaders and cultural experts. Topics will range from language revitalization to allyship. This content will be available on-demand until October 5 free of charge to allow teachers, students and all who would like to join the journey a chance to access it. Participants need only register to receive a link.

“We too are on a path toward Truth and Reconciliation, as an organization. This initiative is one way we can contribute to this nation-wide effort to heal relationships with Indigenous peoples while creating opportunities for learning and dialogue.”

Will Baird, General Manager of Huronia Historical Parks

Sainte-Marie is inviting local schools to get involved in National Day for Truth and Reconciliation by creating orange shirt artwork to be displayed in the historic site’s visitors centre in late September and early October. If you are a Simcoe County teacher looking for ways to engage your class in reflection on this topic, reach out to hhp@ontario.ca for details and supplies.

To learn more about National Day for Truth and Reconciliation at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, in-person or online, visit SainteMarieAmongtheHurons.ca/events. The historic site is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Registration for online learning is also open now.

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 workshops, residences, and a sheltered area for Indigenous visitors. It was abandoned and burned down in 1649. Thanks to extensive archaeological and historical research, Sainte-Marie is now recreated on its original site, where the mission’s story is brought to life with costumed historical interpreters, events, education programs and more. 

PHOTO CAPTIONS:

  • Visitors wrote down their thoughts about truth and reconciliation on paper cut-outs of orange T-shirts during National Day for Truth and Reconciliation at Sainte-Marie in 2022.
  • The survivors’ flag will fly at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30, 2023.

MEDIA CONTACT:

  • Mikaela Lefaive, Marketing and Media Relations Coordinator, Sainte-Marie among the Hurons 16164 Highway 12 East, PO Box 100, Midland ON, L4R 4K6 Mikaela.lefaive@ontario.ca and 705-427-2564

Sainte-Marie celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day

Historic site offers platforms for cultural teaching and learning

June 19, 2023

MIDLAND, ON: On Wednesday, June 21, Sainte-Marie among the Hurons will once again transform its historic site, museum, and grounds into a platform for First Nations and Métis cultural teaching and learning. National Indigenous Peoples Day at this landmark attraction will celebrate and showcase the talents of Indigenous drummers, storytellers, dancers, singers, artists and experts.

“Sainte-Marie among the Hurons has created a unique opportunity for Ontarians across the province to explore Indigenous culture on National Indigenous Peoples Day. I encourage everyone to come to Midland or join online to experience genuine First Nations and Métis teachings and knowledge first-hand.”

– Neil Lumsden, Minister of Tourism Culture and Sport
A First Nations woman in ceremonial dress dancing under a tent a Sainte-Marie

More than 80 per cent of people attending this event are Ontario students, who benefit from learning directly from Indigenous knowledge keepers as well as Sainte-Marie’s historical interpreters. Last year, more than 1,700 students visited the historic site in Midland on June 21. This year, Sainte-Marie expects to welcome more than 2,000 young people from across the province.

“As we commemorate National Indigenous Peoples Day, we are reminded of the importance that Ontario students gain greater knowledge about First Nations, Métis and Inuit cultures and perspectives. Starting this September, all elementary students will benefit from new mandatory learning from Grades 1 through 3 on First Nations, Métis and Inuit histories, perspectives and contributions. These revisions will complement the mandatory learning already present in Social Studies for Grades 4 to 6 and History for Grades 7, 8 and 10, which were co-developed with Indigenous partners.”

– Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education

An interpreter weaving together a corn husk mat

In addition to watching performances, event participants are invited to take part in hands-on activities: playing lacrosse, building corn husk figures and crafting clay finger pots. Indigenous ingenuity is on full display, as experts demonstrate birchbark canoe building, traditional agriculture as well as Indigenous games. New this year are a gym-sized interactive treaties floor map as well as workshops by Survival in the Bush, an organization dedicated to teaching wilderness skills.

“National Indigenous Peoples Day is an opportunity for all Ontarians to celebrate and recognize the rich cultures, traditions, and heritage of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people. Sainte-Marie among the Hurons is providing valuable experiences that enhance cultural understanding and honour Indigenous peoples who helped shape this province.” 

– Greg Rickford, Minister of Indigenous Affairs

Sainte-Marie among the Hurons will also present a free online event at hhp-events.ca with virtual sessions ranging from hand drum construction to Indigenous fusion cooking with traditional ingredients. Registration is required. Last year, more than 80,000 people tuned in to access the educational platform and learn more about Indigenous cultural teachings virtually.

“To me, National Indigenous Peoples Day at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons is an occasion to gather and celebrate First Nations and Métis cultures in the spirit of knowledge sharing. It’s an opportunity for all of us to learn about and to recognize the many diverse achievements of Indigenous peoples.”

– Will Baird, General Manager of Huronia Historical Parks

Sainte-Marie among the Hurons is a heritage facility primarily dedicated to education. The attraction was founded in 1967 to share the important story of cultural contact between French Jesuits and the Wendat Nation in the 1600s. Today, Sainte-Marie also recognizes its role in building cultural understanding and providing educational opportunities.

“We believe in utilizing our public platform to enhance, educate and engage. Through the building of partnerships with Indigenous and Métis presenters as well as with local Indigenous organizations we are able to present a program which celebrates Indigenous and Métis culture on this special day. Part of what makes this event so extraordinary is that we have partnered with many local Indigenous organizations and their voices are represented in the program of presenters.”

– Chad Moreau, Manager of Operations at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons

To experience National Indigenous Peoples Day at Sainte-Marie, in-person or online, visit SainteMarieAmongtheHurons.ca/events. The historic site will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and all are welcome. Registration for the online event is open now. Virtual sessions will take place live from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with recordings available after the event.

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 workshops, residences, and a sheltered area for Indigenous visitors. It was abandoned and burned down in 1649. Thanks to extensive archaeological and historical research, Sainte-Marie is now recreated on its original site, where the mission’s story is brought to life with costumed historical interpreters, events, education programs and more. 

PHOTO CAPTIONS:

  • A fancy shawl dancer performs at National Indigenous Peoples day at Sainte-Marie in 2019.
  • An indigenous historical interpreter works to assemble a corn husk mat as part of daily summer activities at Sainte-Marie in 2022.
  • A student enjoys a lacrosse workshop as part of an educational program at Sainte-Marie in 2022.

MEDIA CONTACTS:

  • Mikaela Lefaive, Marketing and Media Relations Coordinator, Sainte-Marie among the Hurons 16164 Highway 12 East, PO Box 100, Midland ON, L4R 4K6 Mikaela.lefaive@ontario.ca and 705-427-2564

Wye Marsh and Sainte-Marie collaborate on annual Sweetwater Harvest Festival

February 13, 2023

MIDLAND, ON: The Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre’s Sweetwater Harvest Festival – the non-profit’s biggest fundraiser of the year – will be sweeter than ever this year thanks to a collaboration with neighbouring attraction Sainte-Marie among the Hurons.

“The Sweetwater Harvest Festival is one of the many great reasons to visit Simcoe County – a unique, family-friendly event that encourages connection with the nature and history of the region. This year, thanks to the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre and Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, there are even more events and activities for visitors of all ages. I encourage everyone to come and enjoy the maple season fun while supporting artisans and boosting the local economy.”

– Neil Lumsden, Minister of Tourism Culture and Sport

The festival, a beloved annual celebration of spring and all things maple syrup, will take place March 18, 19, 25 and 26 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Family-friendly activities will be on tap at both sites, including sugar shack demonstrations, an artisan market, and take-home crafts for kids.

“The Sweetwater Harvest Festival offers everyone the opportunity to get outside, learn about maple syrup, and enjoy the early days of spring. Funds from this event help to ensure that the Wye Marsh can continue to deliver innovative conservation and nature programs all year round.”

– Kim Hacker, Executive Director, Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre

Collaboration is nothing new for the Wye Marsh and Sainte-Marie. The organizations have worked together to offer events in the past and continue to co-host education programs every year. But this is the first time the Sweetwater Harvest Festival will take place at both sites.

“The connection between the Wye Marsh and Sainte-Marie has always been strong. We’re delighted to be working together in this new way to celebrate the region’s natural and cultural heritage.”

– Will Baird, General Manager, Huronial Historical Parks

Activities at the Wye Marsh will include trekking through the sugar bush, sugar shack demonstrations, roasting bannock on a stick, children’s games, birds of prey demonstrations and, of course, opportunities to purchase locally-made maple syrup.

Sainte-Marie among the Hurons will host more than 30 artisans at the Sweetwater Arts and Crafts Market, historical canoe-making and basketry demonstrations, as well as take-home crafts like corn husk dolls and clay okies.

Tickets for the Sweetwater Harvest Festival must be purchased in online at WyeMarsh.com/Sweetwater.

The Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre and Sainte-Marie among the Hurons would like to thank the sponsors who helped to make this event possible: Midland Rotary, Windlee Farms, Telequip, Bourgeois Auto Group, Quality Inn, Industrial Filter Manufacturing Inc., Charles Morden Construction Inc., Team Jordan Keller Williams Co-Elevation Realty, Tap Into Maple, Barber & Haskill, and Wye Heritage Marine Resort.

Friends of Wye Marsh is a not-for-profit charitable organization taking care of 3,000 acres of provincially significant wetlands and federal forests in the Heart of Georgian Bay. This National Wildlife Area and recognized Important Bird Area (IBA) provides habitat for a number of significant species including provincially Threatened Least Bitterns, Species of Special Concern Black Terns, and the famous Trumpeter Swans. Wye Marsh is the perfect place to Escape – Explore – Experience the area’s natural history as the site includes 25 km of all-season trails, a Birds of Prey field, and Visitors Centre!

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 workshops, residences, and a sheltered area for Indigenous visitors. It was abandoned and burned down in 1649. Thanks to extensive archaeological and historical research, Sainte-Marie is now recreated on its original site, where the mission’s story is brought to life with costumed historical interpreters, events, education programs and more. 

PHOTO CAPTIONS:

  • A family tastes sap at the 2022 Sweetwater Harvest Festival at the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre
  • A historical interpreter at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons demonstrates how to make corn husk dolls.
  • A group of guests enjoys a syrup-making demonstration at the Wye Marsh sugar shack.

MEDIA CONTACTS:

  • Kim Hacker, Executive Director, Friends of Wye Marsh 16160 Highway 12 East, PO Box 100, Midland ON, L4R 4K6 khacker@wyemarsh.com and 705-526-7809 ext 201  
  • Mikaela Lefaive, Marketing and Media Relations Coordinator, Sainte-Marie among the Hurons 16164 Highway 12 East, PO Box 100, Midland ON, L4R 4K6 Mikaela.lefaive@ontario.ca and 705-427-2564
Une photo aérienne de Sainte-Marie-au-pays-des-Hurons et la rivière Wye

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