Last Updated on June 10, 2021 by Pamela
Should you make time to visit Wendake during your time in Québec City? The short answer is YES, I think everyone should make time to visit and explore Wendake.
Located roughly 20 minutes from Old Québec City, Wendake is the home of the Huron-Wendat Nation in Québec. A thriving community, Wendake is one of the best destinations in Canada to experience Indigenous culture, food, and history.
One of the most prosperous Indigenous nations in Canada, Wendake is the perfect jumping off point in terms of Indigenous experiences in Canada.
A BRIEF HISTORY
An urban reserve that has existed in Québec since the 17th-century, it was originally known as Village-des-Hurons.
Prior to their arrival in what we know as Wendake, the Huron-Wendat tribe was located north of Lake Ontario, but by the early 17th-century, they had relocated to the Georgian Bay area. This was where they first came into contact with the Europeans.
In 1634, the population of the Huron-Wendat Nation was roughly 20,000 to 30,000 people. It was around this time that they branched off from the main Wendat (Wyandot) Nation – the nation as a whole dismembered between 1634-1650, creating four or five tribes.
Their population quickly dwindled as they were ravaged by infectious diseases contracted from the Europeans. Those who didn’t die of disease suffered from attacks by the Iroquois Confederacy in the south (now New York) who wanted control of their hunting grounds and fur trade.
By the time the Huron-Wendat tribe arrived in Québec, their population was in the hundreds. They first settled on Île d’Orléans around 1651, moving into the colony of New France (now Québec City) in 1668. They moved to several other locations in the area before finally settling in Lorette (Wendake) in 1697.
Today, the Huron-Wendat Nation works with other nearby nations to preserve their languages, as well as promote their cultures, foods, and histories, providing much-needed insight.
THINGS TO SEE + DO IN WENDAKE
Over the years, Wendake has worked tirelessly to create Indigenous experiences which are supportive of its community, becoming a meaningful destination among non-Indigenous travellers in the process.
Wendake is, in my opinion, one of the best destinations in Canada to learn about and experience Indigenous culture. Whether you want to visit museums and historic sites, watch a Pow-Wow, dine on Indigenous-inspired cuisine, shop, or relax in a beautiful location surrounded by nature, Wendake is an unforgettable destination in Canada.
WENDAKE POW WOW
ANNUAL EVENT | WHEN: June | Wendake, QC | huron-wendat.qc.ca | 418.842.4308 | ADMISSION: Adult $15 for 3 days, Youth 13–17 $7.50 for 3 days, Children are FREE! | Accessible Site
The is Canada’s biggest Pow Wow event, and not to be missed. Pow Wows are a gathering event where Indigenous and First Nations peoples gather and dance, affirming their cultures and sharing traditions in the process. It’s an ancient practice and one of the best ways to experience their culture firsthand.
Your ticket includes 3 days’ worth of events. Watch traditional dances such as Men’s Grass Dance, Women’s Fancy Shawl Dance, The Drum, among others.
SITE TRADITIONNEL HURON ONHOÜA CHETEK8E
HISTORIC SITE | 575, rue Chef Stanislas Koska | Wendake, QC | huron-wendat.qc.ca | 418.842.4308 | OPEN DAILY: Call for information on guided visits | ADMISSION: Adult $15.50, Youth 13–17 $12.25, Children 7–12 $10.25, Children 6 years old and under are FREE! | Accessible Site
Take a guided tour of the Huron Traditional Site to learn about the life of the Indigenous peoples of the area. Wander through a traditional longhouse where up to five families would reside. Learn about how the Huron-Wendat tribe built birch bark canoes, hunted, and preserved their food. As well as the traditions of medicine men.
While you can opt to take a self-guided tour, spending time with a local guide will give you more insight, as well as the opportunity to ask questions. Highly recommended!
After your tour, shop at the boutique for locally made art, crafts, and clothing. If you’re hungry, eat at their restaurant, Nek8arre, where you will find several mouth-watering Indigenous-inspired dishes to devour.
CHUTE KABIR KOUBA
WATERFALLS & INTERPRETATION CENTRE | 15, boulevard des Étudiants | Québec, QC | chutekabirkouba.com | 418.842.0077 | Visit the website for up-to-date information on opening hours and guided tour costs.
Begin your day with a guided tour at Kabir Kouba falls. An important historical and cultural site, Kabir Kouba Falls is stunning. Visit the interpretation centre to learn about leathercraft, take a 45 – 90 minute guided tour to learn about the first settlers in the area, as well as the mills that once operated along the river.
Bring a camera or sketch pad. Learn about the flora and fauna, listen to local legends; Kabir Kouba Falls are a must-see.
Taking a guided tour of Musée Huron-Wendat will give you a deeper insight into the Huron-Wendat people, from their time in the Georgian Bay area to their time in what we now call Wendake.
Explore the small exhibits as you learn about their life and culture, follow your guide as they take you to the traditional longhouse (where Myths and Legends storytelling takes place each night), Maison Tsawenhohi and Mission Notre-dame-de-Lorette. Bilingual tours begin at 1:30 pm, French tours are available at 10:00 am. **Tour times are open to change, it is best to check their website for updates.
MYTHS AND LEGENDS
Immersing yourself in the history and culture of the Huron-Wendat people of New France is not complete without storytelling.
Spend ninety minutes inside a traditional longhouse, sitting around a fire on a wood stump as you listen to the myths and legends of the first nations people. Whether your storyteller is Madame Yolande Picard (a storytelling legend) or Dominic, you will walk away wanting more.
Storytelling takes place year-round, so if you go in winter be sure to dress warmly. A truly unforgettable experience.
HISTORIC SITE | 187, Georges Cloutier | Wendake, QC | museehuronwendat.ca | 418.845.0700 OPEN: Visit the museum website for more details.
Once the home of Grand Chief Nicolas Vincent Tsawenhohi, as well as two other grand chiefs and prominent community leaders who worked to promote the welfare of the Indigenous people in Wendake.
Maison Tsawenhohi was turned into a National Historic Site in 2001 and now houses a small museum – which you can see during a guided tour at the Musée Huron-Wendat.
HISTORIC & RELIGIOUS SITE | 73, Boulevard Bastien | Wendake, QC | 418.842.3569
Part of the guided tour offered by Musée Huron-Wendat, Mission Notre-dame-de-Lorette is an early 18th-century church in the heart of Wendake.
Admire the 18th and 19th-century architecture and furnishings, and take time to visit the small sanctuary dedicated to Saint Kateri Tekakwitha (also known as Lily of the Mohawks), the first Indigenous person to be canonized by the Roman Catholic church.
PLACE ONYWAHTEHRETSIH (PLACE DE LA NATION)
HISTORIC SITE | 30, Boulevard Bastien | Wendake, QC
This small park above Chute Kabir Kouba, and across from the Le Petit Huron Moc boutique, Place Onywahtehretsih is centred around the Wendat myth of Creation. A body of water is featured, along with vegetation, and bronze statues of animals that represent the mythical animals of the story. Created by Christine Sioui-Wawanoloath, a Wendat-Abenaki artist, Place Onywahtehretsih is a good place to start your time in Wendake.
(Bench sculptures were created by Wendat artist, Ludovic Boney)
FOOD + DRINK
CASSE-CROÛTE L’USINE À FRITES
SNACK SHACK | 640, Chef Max Gros-Louis | Wendake, QC | 418.915.4447 | facebook | OPEN: Tues–Sun 11am–8pm
This delightful snack shack (casse-croûte) is located near Site Traditionnel Huron Onhoüa Chetek8e, and next door to the police station (that is just good business). A popular choice with locals looking for yummy poutine, burgers, hot dogs, and smoked meat sandwiches. Sit at a picnic table outside, or one of the tables under the canopy. The staff are friendly, and the food hits the right spot, every time.
FOOD TRUCK | Wendake, QC | 418.847.6999 | facebook | OPEN: check facebook page for locations, time & menu
This orange food truck featuring a canoe on the roof can be spotted throughout Wendake. Run by the same folks behind Restaurant Sagamité, SAGA offers a menu of pizzas, as well as a gourmet burger, and poutine. This is not your ordinary casse-croûte experience, so make sure you arrive hungry and wearing some stretchy pants.
INDIGENOUS CUISINE | 5, Place de la Rencontre | Wendake, QC | 418.847.2012 | restaurantlatraitre.ca | OPEN: see website for up-to-date information
La Traitre is known throughout Québec as the best fine dining experience for Indigenous cuisine. Located at Hôtel-Musée Premières Nations, this beautiful restaurant offers. a menu filled with dishes prepared using Indigenous terroir such as berries, wild game, fish, root vegetables, as well as herbs from the boreal forest.
Lunch and Dinner are always an excellent choice, but their brunch menu is truly spectacular. Hello, wild boar bacon, cold-smoked salmon, bannock with jam…
INDIGENOUS CUISINE | 10, boulevard Bastien | Wendake, QC | 418.847.6999 | sagamite.com | OPEN: see website for up-to-date information
[Temporarily closed] Restaurant Sagamité is easily one of the best restaurants in the Québec City Region for Indigenous cuisine. While the menu has non-Indigenous dishes such as burgers and pizza, the highlights are dishes such as La Potence (pictured above), sagamité soup or smoked bison short ribs (among others). With delicious food, friendly staff, and inspiring décor, it is not a surprise that Restaurant Sagamité is a favourite restaurant among locals and tourists in Wendake.
**This restaurant was raised by a fire in December 2018, however, it is currently being rebuilt. In the meantime, you can enjoy their cuisine at their second location in Old Québec City (68 1/2 rue Saint-Louis).
THINKING ABOUT SPENDING THE NIGHT?
HÔTEL-MUSÉE PREMIÈRES NATIONS
Home to Musée Huron-Wendat, and La Traitre restaurant; as well as several Indigenous experiences such as the National Longhouse Ekionkiestha’, and workshops on talking sticks, porcupine quill bracelets, and traditional jewelery.
A four-star boutique hotel, Hôtel-Musée Premières Nations is the best place to begin your exploration of the history, culture, and food of the Huron-Wendat people in Wendake. Rooms are contemporary with Indigenous décor, cozy beds, and pretty views. Designed to promote relaxation.
In summer, enjoy the gardens and paths outside, wander by the Akiawenrahk’ river, or enjoy a tour. In winter, sit in cozy leather chairs around a fire in the lobby and take in the beauty outside. If you want a truly different sleeping experience, book an overnight stay inside the National Longhouse Ekionkiestha’.
GETTING TO WENDAKE
Once you arrive in Wendake it is relatively easy to get around on foot. If you enjoy public transportation take bus #284 on the corner of rue D’Aiguillon and Avenue Honoré-Mercier (across from Hôtel Palace Royal) towards Loretteville. Get off at stop #4088 A-Duchesneau. The cost for a one-way ticket is $3.50.
If you don’t want to take public transportation, there is a shuttle bus which leaves from the Tourist Information Centre (12, rue Sainte-Anne) in Vieux Québec. The cost is $10 for adults, $5 for children 5 to 12 years of age, and free for children 4 and under. It’s best to check their website for more up-to-date information.
Reading books and articles before or after your visit to Wendake is an excellent way to learn more about the Indigenous and First Nations peoples of Canada. There are so many things that we, as non-Indigenous people, do not know or fully understand about the histories, foods, and cultures of the nations and tribes scattered throughout Canada.
At the end of May 2021, a mass grave of 215 Indigenous children was uncovered at a former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia. A devastating discovery, and an important one for many reasons. This grave will not be the only one in Canada. The horrors that occurred in the residential schools throughout Canada have damaged generations of Indigenous and First Nations people.
The schools are not the first crime against them, they have been oppressed, punished, ignored, mistreated, and misunderstood for centuries.
One of the best ways to help change the narrative, however, is through having touch conversations, listening with an open mind and open heart, and seeking opportunities to learn.
Here are some resources, articles and books to get you started:
- COVID-19 Indigenous (Facebook page)
- Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
- Indigenous Canada course at University of Alberta (Free)
- It’s Our Time: The Assembly of First Nations (Educational toolkit)
- The Residential School System (Indigenous Foundations at UBC)
- A Brief Timeline of the History of Indigenous Relations in Canada (Indigenous Corporate Training Blog)
- Celebrating National Indigenous Month (resource article, CBC)
- Racism & the Americanization of Canadian History: Why we shouldn’t look at ourselves through a U.S. lens (The Conversation)
- Kamloops residential school survivor says Candian outpouring of support can bring healing (article, The Globe and Mail)
- Our Story: Aboriginal Voices on Canada’s Past by Thomas King (book)
- Surviving Canada: Indigenous Peoples Celebrate 150 Years of Betrayal Edited by Myra Tait and Kiera Ladner (book)
- 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act: Helping Canadians Make Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples a Reality by Bob Joseph (book)
- The Right to Be Cold: One Woman’s Story of Protecting Her Culture, The Arctic and the Whole Planet by Sheila Watt-Cloutier (book)
- Heart Berries: A Memoir by Terese Marie Mailhot (book)
- Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada by Canadian Geographic (book)