Fort Sainte Marie II National Historic Site of Canada
Fort Sainte Marie II
Fort Sainte Marie II
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
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.
Fort Sainte Marie II was designated as a national historic site of Canada 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.
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.
Government of Canada
Historic Sites and Monuments Act
National Historic Site of Canada
1649/01/01 to 1650/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
Function - Category and Type
- Religion, Ritual and Funeral
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Indigenous Affairs and Cultural Heritage Directorate Documentation Centre 3rd Floor, room 366 30 Victoria Street Gatineau, Québec J8X 0B3
Cross-Reference to Collection