Huron-Wendat of Wendake | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Huron-Wendat of Wendake

In 1697, several Huron-Wendat settled in what became known as Wendake. One of the Seven Nations, the Huron-Wendat were allies of the French until 1760, then of the British. Today, the Huron-Wendat of Wendake are among the most urbanised and most prosperous Indigenous communities in Quebec.

Huron-Wendat Chiefs
Three Huron-Wyandot (Wendat) chiefs from the Huron reserve (Lorette) now called Wendake in Quebec, Canada. At far left is Michel Tsioui (Teachendale), war chief. Center is Stanislas Coska (Aharathaha), second chief of the council. At far light is Andre Romain (Tsouhahissen), first chief of the council.
Huron-Wendat People
Huron-Wendat group from Wendake (Lorette) at Spencerwood, Québec City, QC, 1880.
Huron-Wendat Dance
Mélanie Savard, a member of the Huron-Wendat First Nation, performs a traditional dance for Canadian and American sailors during celebrations of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 (Québec City, 26 July 2012).

Settling at Wendake

At the time of the destruction of Huronia by the Haudenosaunee, in 1649-50, about 500 Huron-Wendat left Georgian Bay to seek refuge close to the French, in the Quebec City region. These Huron-Wendat, who quickly converted to Catholicism, initially settled on Ile d'Orléans (1650-56), but moved their villages several times before finally settling some kilometres north of Quebec, at Jeune-Lorette (now Wendake), in 1697.

In the decades that followed, the Huron-Wendat population slowly declined. It reached its lowest level of about 100 people in 1760 before gradually increasing to attain a level of approximately 300 in the mid-19th century.

One of the Seven Nations of Canada, the Huron-Wendat were allies of the French until 1760, then of the British. Due to their small numbers however, they played only a modest role in the North American conflicts.

After establishing themselves in the Quebec region, the Huron-Wendat would progressively attach greater importance to hunting to ensure their subsistence. This was done to the detriment of the cultivation of light crops that in the 19th century occupied only a marginal place in their way of life. The Huron-Wendat hunting territories were found north of the St Lawrence, between Saguenay and Saint-Maurice.

Changes to Traditional Life

In the second half of the 19th century, several factors however, rapidly forced the Huron-Wendat to abandon their traditional hunting activities: the opening of new regions of colonization, the formation of numerous private hunting and fishing clubs and the creation of Parc des Laurentides. From this time on, making and selling crafts articles, such as snowshoes, baskets and canoes, occupied a dominant place in the Huron-Wendat economy.

Contemporary Life

The Huron-Wendat of Wendake today are among the most urbanised and most prosperous Indigenous communities in Quebec. As of April 2024, there are 5,155 members of the Huron-Wendat Nation.

Some well-known Huron-Wendat from Wendake include Chief Max Gros-Louis (1931-2020), artist ​Zacharie Vincent (1815-86), and the Sioui brothers (Georges, Régent, Konrad and Hugues) who were at the centre of an Indigenous rights case at the Supreme Court of Canada in 1990, R. v. Sioui.

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