Wendake is a Huron-Wendat enclave located within Quebec City. Formerly known as Huron Village, the area of roughly 1.5 square kilometers is home to more than 2,000 of the Huron-Wendat, which are one of Canada’s 11 First Nations. Every summer, tourists, as well as members of Canada’s First Nations, travel from other parts of Quebec and beyond to attend the International Pow Wow de Wendake. To get the most out of your trip, it’s best to visit during the pow wow. The event usually takes place over a weekend in late June. With that said, here is a list of things you can do all year round.
Hotel-Musee Premieres Nations
Le Petit Huron Moc
St. Charles River
Learn About the First Nations of Canada at the Huron-Wendat Museum
The Huron-Wendat Museum is an ideal first stop for first-time visitors to Wendake. Their mission is to inform the public about the history, art, and culture of the Wendat as well as the other ten First Nations of Canada. The permanent exhibit is on the upper floor and features a circular glass encased display, which is visible from both sides. A timeline (near the entrance booth) highlights key points in Wendat history between 1450 and 2014. Temporary exhbits are on the lower floor adjacent to the museum botique.
After you check out the museum, be sure to visit the downstairs botique. You can purchase aboriginal works of art as well as local syrups, jams, etc. Guided tours of the museum are available in English. They include a tour of the National Ekionkiestha’ longhouse.
Shop for Local Arts & Crafts
Local arts and crafts are omnipresent in Wendake. There are multiple options along Route 369 (Sarenhes) between Rue Huron Wendat and the St. Charles River. Chances are good that you can end up purchasing from the artisan directly. You can use this as an opportuinity to ask about the significance of the different items for sale.
If you really want to dive deeper into Wendat culture, try to time your visit to coincide with the International Pow Wow de Wendake. The annual event takes place in late June, usually over the weekend before Canada Day. During the pow wow, dozens of artistans and other vendors descend on Wendake for a weekend of food, dancing, and other entertainment. Check out this YouTube clip of the 2019 festivities.
Take a Serene Stroll Along the St Charles River
The 33 km St. Charles River (Akiawenrahk in the Huron-Wendat language) runs through Wendake before it flows into the St. Lawrence River in Quebec City. You can access a pedestrian path from the intersection of Sarenhes and Chef Nicolas Vincent. From there, you walk down a few sets of wooden stairs past different observation points for the Chute Kabir Kouba (or Park of the Kabir Kouba Cliff and Waterfall).
After that, you can either walk down the waterfall or back up to the Sentier des Rivieres path, which eventually crosses the St. Charles River and continues east into Quebec City proper. Cycling is also an option.
Explore the Local Food Scene in Wendake
When you’re in Wendake, try to avoid poutine and crepes. Instead, save your appetite for some local dishes. Sagamite and La Traite are both located north of the St. Charles River and offer a variety of Wendat and First Nations dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The latter is part of the Hôtel Musée Premières Nations and offers different prix fixe options, ranging from three to six courses. You can also order a la carte. While many of the dishes are meat-centric, they do offer some vegetarian options. Deer loin is their signature dish.
If you want more (and less formal) food options, try to time your visit to coincide with the International Pow Wow de Wendake. Over the long weekend, you’ll find food trucks set up along Route 369 as well as some Wendat food vendors mixed in with the dozens of other artistans and exhibitors that descned on Wendake for the annual pow wow.
Immerse Yourself in the Myths & Legends of Huron-Wendat Nation
While buying locals arts and crafts, getting a guided tour of the Huron-Wendat museum, and trying some local cuisine are all ideal ways to scratch the Wendake surface, Myths and Legends is a unique, essential Quebec experience. It takes place inside the National Ekionkiestha’ longhouse of the Huron-Wendat. The longhouse shows guests how the Huron-Wendat lived before the Europeans came to what is now Quebec. Dried fish and meat hang from the walls along with dozens of different animal furs and the weapons that were traditionally used to fish and hunt.
After you pass throught the mazelike entrance, you’ll take a seat by the fire on a wooden log with a smooth animal fur cushion. Your host for the evening will be a member of one of Canada’s First Nations. He or she will not necessarily be a member of the Huron-Wendat. Before the storytelling begins, you’ll be handed a cup of Labrador tea along with a piece of tradiational bannock bread. Which specific myths and legends you hear will depend on your host. The whole experience typically takes roughly two hours.
Most of the stories predate the arrival of European settlers. To really appreciate the experience, put your mobile phone on silent and keep it out of your sight along with your other electronic devices. Sessions take place in the evening after the Huron-Wendat Museum closes. They are available in both English and French. If you are not free during the evening, but still want to enter the longhouse, it’s included in the guided tour of the adjacent Huron-Wendat Museum. You can also book a night in the longhouse with your own personal fire keeper.