Europe in Argentina
Bewitchment and contentment
By Sylvie Berthiaume
Music playing in the background makes his suave effect as soon as one enters the First Nations Hotel-Museum in Wendake, located 20 minutes from the city of Quebec, in Canada.
Soft Huron songs and drums envelop the decor, the modern works of art and artifacts that are tributes to nature and to the aboriginal people of today and yesterday. All contribute to an atmosphere of rest and decent luxury.
The appeasement and the visual happiness wages battle with the eagerness to discover our room, the gourmet restaurant, the small museum and especially the traditional "Long House" located just aside the hotel.
Shared modernity and heritage
We are in a boutique hotel which highlights authenticity in all its hospitality aspects: accommodation, catering, entertainment, services.
Although many international tourists join the local and regional clientele to appreciate its admirable assets, the First Nations Hotel-Museum in Wendake knows how to distinguish itself from touristic and sometimes caricature places which have the mission to illustrate the history of an indigenous culture.
The small museum housed in the hotel is dedicated to the Wendat people, who have lived in this territory for at least a millennium, and who have been named Huron by the French. The Wendat occupied territories around the Huron, Ontario and Erie Great Lakes, up to the St. Lawrence River. They were farmers and hunters, but also fierce warriors as well as diplomats. Their Grand Chief Donnacona met Jacques Cartier, the explorer who is known as the official discoverer of Canada.
The museum respects the rules of conservation and exhibition, whereas the Aboriginal professional guides provide both the veracity and the relevance of the information on the political history, habits and customs, tools and costumes and other specificities of the Huron-Wendat nation. Interaction with visitors is very friendly.
The highlight of the stay is without a doubt the visit of the "Ekionkiestha Long House", whose origin dates back to the pre-contact period for Aboriginal people with the Europeans: after having crossed its impressive palisade, we feel intrigued by this massive wood structure without windows, prior to satisfying our curiosity about the Amerindians’ daily life in the course of the last centuries, lying on the fur skins or busy around the fire. Thanks to our affable and skilled guide, Gervais Bégin.
A night in the "Long House" is highly recommended to sublimate the experience… in all seasons. In winter, it goes without saying that a super hot sleeping bag is provided.
House and Spa all comfort
One must of course spend at least another night in the hotel itself. All rooms are equipped with the most modern facilities, and natural wood, bone or fur accessories, all hand- made by Hurons craftsmen.
After breakfast, which is included in the reservation, adults and children will have fun in a workshop to create traditional necklaces.
The Nation Health Spa is located on the ground floor, and its garden offers the nordic baths hot/cold experience, while inside, we have access to several types of massage.
Mouthful harmonies in 3 , 4, 5 or 6 services
In the restaurant called La Traite, Chief Martin Gagné boosts its creativity in the mix of colors and textures, as well as in papillary memories!
Every bite is an explosion of different flavors easily perceptible, which leave literally speechless… The generosity undelines in broad strokes the signature of the dishes.
Here are a few evocations to salivate before, during and after….: Cannelloni of black lentils dew sauce and cheese; arctic char, tapenade of red pepper and artichoke; Pork shoulder with peppers, garlic and the sauce Coureur des bois; Carpaccio of smoked duck, gratin whelks and clams, puree of acidulated fennel, sea spinach; Terrine of small game with mango and hazelnut; Bison shoulder and deer with blueberries in the perfume of balsam fir, cream of roasted sunflower, etc.
The service staff is highly professional and the tables are dressed as any gourmet restaurant which respects itself.
The whole menu is composed of Tables d’hôte, at very affordable prices given their quality and magnitude. The appropriate wine-meal combinations are also offered, with a small surcharge.
The large bay windows of the restaurant allow a beautiful panoramic view of the surrounding nature and, in winter, on a camp fire around which one drinks a Labrador tea or a hot chocolate, savoring roasting marshmallows, as well as a magnificent illuminated ice bar where Ungava Gin is served.
The indoor bar proposes a few First Nations "signature" cocktails.
Supplements to the perennial memories
In the immediate surroundings of the Hotel-Museum, one can also visit the house of the Great Chief Nicolas Vincent Tsawenhohi, the ONHOÜA CHETEK8E traditional site, or admire the fresco of the Nation and Notre-Dame-de-Lorette church.
According to the season, we can participate in craft workshops, attend live performances of traditional songs and dances at Andicha House, or go fishing and simulate the hunting of hares, bears, moose, beavers, porcupines, not to mention enjoying dog sled riding, snowshoeing, or a beautiful promenade in a sleigh drawn by horses.
Suggestion: complete the stay with a picnic at the small Kabir-Kouba Fall.
Undeniably a stay to fall in love, and illuminate our souls.