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Fort Sainte Marie II National Historic Site of Canada

Christian Island 30A, Ontario, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1921/05/21

General view of the walls that outline the fort, 1920.; Library and Archives Canada / Bibliothèque et Archives Canada, 1920.
General view
General view of the commemorative plaque located at Fort Sainte Marie II National Historic Site of Canada, 1989.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 1989.
General view
General view of the commemorative plaque and outlining rock walls of Fort Sainte Marie II National Historic Site of Canada, 1989.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 1989.
General view

Other Name(s)

Fort Sainte Marie II National Historic Site of Canada
Fort Sainte Marie II
Fort Sainte Marie II
Fort Sainte Marie II

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1649/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2010/03/05

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Fort Sainte Marie II National Historic Site of Canada is located within the Beausoleil First Nation land reserve along the southern shore of Christian Island, on Georgian Bay, in Ontario. The site consists of a clearing bordered by trees, some modern homes, and the shoreline of Georgian Bay. Low-lying cobble walls, probably created by 20th century rock piling, delineate the footprint of the square fort as well as its corner bastions. Also included on the site is a large, unused Huron burial pit. Over time, natural factors have slightly altered the original setting, such as the effects of shoreline erosion. The designation refers to the footprint of the fort.

Heritage Value

Fort Sainte Marie II was designated as a national historic site of Canada in 1920 because:
- established in 1649, it was the last Jesuit mission for the Huron-Wendat in this area;
- it was abandoned by the missionaries in 1650 when they fled to Quebec with some Huron-Wendat supporters;
- the remaining Huron-Wendat made their last stand against the Iroquois from this fort in 1651 before fleeing to Quebec.

Fort Sainte Marie II was constructed in 1649 following the destruction of the former Jesuit mission of Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons Mission National Historic Sites of Canada on the Wye River. The new fort was settled from June 1649 to June 1650 by Jesuit Missionaries, French soldiers, and Huron-Wendat who had fled from the Wye River mission station after confrontations with Five Nations bands and the Dutch who together sought to break the Huron-Wendat control of northern fur resources.

In their new location, the French built a small stronghold consisting of a military-style four-metre-high stone outer wall, which was surrounded by a moat. These fortifications enclosed a church, missionary living quarters, and a well. The Huron-Wendat lived in a village adjacent to the fort structure. The site was partially abandoned in June 1650 after a winter of famine, disease, and new threats of encroaching Iroquois. At that time, the Jesuits, led by Father Paul Ragueneau and approximately 300 Huron-Wendat, travelled as a group from Christian Island into Lake Nipissing and the Ottawa River valley to Québec. They settled at what is now Old Wendake National Historic Site of Canada north of Québec City (Lorette, Quebec). The Huron-Wendat that remained at the site lived in the fort and during the next spring, they made their last stand against the Iroquois in Huronia. The survivors of this group then relocated to Québec City to rejoin the Jesuits and other Huron-Wendat.

Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, January 1920; October 2007; Plaque text, 1923.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that contribute to the heritage character of the site include:
- its location on the southern shore of Christian Island on Georgian Bay, in Ontario;
- its strategic siting upon the remains of the former Jesuit mission Fort Sainte Marie Among the Hurons Mission National Historic Site of Canada;
- the low-lying cobble stones dating to the 19th century, which outline the original form of the square fort and its corner bastions;
- the integrity of any surviving or as yet unidentified archaeological remains relating to the Jesuit fort, including fort wall sections of semi-dressed stone with a core of mortar and rubble, and any surviving elements of the church, living quarters, or the well;
- the integrity of any surviving or as yet unidentified archaeological remains relating to the Huron-Wendat village, including sections of the village palisade along the north end of the fort, cultural remains, the large, unused burial pit, and markers from the extensive burial grounds;
- viewscapes across Georgian Bay.

Recognition

Jurisdiction

Federal

Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date

1921/05/21

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1649/01/01 to 1650/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Function - Category and Type

Current

Undetermined (archaeological site)
Exposed Site

Historic

Religion, Ritual and Funeral
Mission

Architect / Designer

n/a

Builder

n/a

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

361

Status

Published

Related Places

n/a

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