The 55-room Hôtel-Musée Premières Nations is located in Wendake, an Indigenous community on the outskirts of Quebec City. Since opening in 2008, it has served as a focal point for Wendake’s tourism industry, offering guests the chance to explore the history of the Huron-Wendat nation while getting to know its modern-day culture. Decor features Indigenous motifs, while the on-site Restaurant La Traite, situated in a ground-floor space overlooking the Akiawenrahk (Saint-Charles) River, serves up refined dishes that include local and foraged ingredients such as venison, sea buckthorn berries and birch syrup.
The lobby at Hôtel-Musée Premières Nations, photo by Virginie Gosselin
Smoked salmon and herring dish, photo by Virginie Gosselin
Caribou decor at Hôtel-Musée Premières Nations, photo by Virginie Gosselin
Visitors can tour the property’s Musée Huron-Wendat for exhibits that give an overview of Huron-Wendat heritage, including their skills in making traditional snowshoes and canoes. Come evening, guests can attend storytelling sessions or even sleepovers in the wooden longhouse—a short walk away from the main building—to hear not just traditional legends, but the morals behind them, too. (In a nod to the benefits of modern technology, however, the longhouse fire is heated by natural gas.)
A longhouse at Hôtel-Musée Premières Nations, photo by Virginie Gosselin
Offsite, walking trails around Wendake lead travellers from historic sites to handicraft shops and the picturesque Kabir Kouba waterfall. The hotel can also arrange seasonal activities like snowshoeing, fishing or canoeing, or attendance at the Wendake Pow Wow, held annually on the last weekend of June.
Museum guide Dominic Ste-Marie finds huge value in sharing his people’s traditions and stories with visitors from all cultures—and in discovering them for himself. But it’s the economic and social opportunities afforded by the Hôtel-Musée that he sees as most important; the hotel and museum complex are not just a source of income, but a source of pride for the community, too. “We’re not looking to the past,” he says when describing the impact of the tourism industry on his nation. “We’re looking to the future.”
[This story appears in the November 2016 issue of WestJet Magazine and has since been updated]