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.
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.
The Wendake today are among the most urbanised and most prosperous Indigenous communities in Quebec. In 2016, Statistics Canada reported 2,134 as the population 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.