By Sault Tourism
Fall Rendezvous Festival, at the Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site, is a 4-day event, hosted each September by the Friends of Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site. The festival, this year occurring September 20th – 23rd, is a chance to immerse yourself in the history of the war of 1812 and the daily life of the early 1800’s, through a number of live reenactments including; canon and musket fire, Indigenous storytellers, workshops and more!
Keep reading to learn more about the Fall Rendezvous Festival.
The Fall Rendezvous Festival starts on Wednesday, September 20th and will run for four days until Saturday, September 23th, 2023. The event is open to the public, as well as for groups including School Groups, from 10am to 4pm for each day.
Admission is by donation (pay what you can) and includes entrance to the Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site heritage buildings and grounds, as well as interaction and knowledge sharing with 36 heritage performers including Francophone and Indigenous storytellers. See the Red Coats and the flash in the pan, smell the gunpowder as the muskets and cannons ignite, hear the drumming and our storytellers, taste Algoma Country’s culinary samplings. Immerse yourself!
A fun part of the Fall Rendezvous Festival is the historical reenactments from the period surrounding the war of 1812. Restored canons and muskets from the era are fired at regular intervals throughout the festival, with groups of onlookers and spectators kept at a safe range. 🙂
Expect the canon to fire every hour or more frequently when groups are on tours!
There are 36 heritage performers and exhibits present at the Festival. These include Coureur du Bois, Voyageurs, Métis, quill work, canoe building, drumming & Indigenous song, sacred plants and teachings – all in live performance!
Saturday will also see the addition of the Algoma Maker’s Market, tasty local samplings from Hogan’s Homestead, Thinking Rock Community Arts, Beaver Tails food trailer and culinary arts by members of Buy Algoma, Buy Local.
The site is accessible with parking, boardwalks, washrooms and audio tours.
Check out the festival schedule below!
Wednesday to Friday
Fall Rendezvous Festival takes place on the grounds of the Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site; where two of the oldest stone buildings in Ontario are Sault Ste. Marie’s only remains of the fur trade era, and home to the earliest European settlers.
Learn about the war of 1812 through interactive displays, enjoy an audio tour to help guide you through the site. There is also a gift shop filled with local artisan products and memorabilia from Sault Ste. Marie. Read more about visiting Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site here.
The Fall Rendezvous Festival is hosted by the Friends of Ermatinger National Historic Site and funded by the Government of Canada, the Government of Ontario and the City of Sault Ste. Marie.
Book your seat on the narrated, one-day, round trip Agawa Canyon Tour Train and you’ll pass several sites captured by the Group of Seven while marvelling at the rugged beauty of the Canadian landscape.
View scenes that inspired some of the most famous works of art from the Group of Seven including The Solemn Land (based on Montreal River Harbour) and Algoma Waterfall (based on Bridal Veil Falls), by J.E.H MacDonald. The original sketch of The Solemn Land, painted after MacDonald first visited the area in 1918, is part of the permanent collection at the Art Gallery of Algoma.
When the train stops within the Agawa Canyon, hike towards Bridal Veil Falls where you’ll see the cascading tiers of water which inspired multiple sketches and paintings by members of the Group of Seven including Lawren Harris and the aforementioned J.E.H. MacDonald.
The” Soo”, as it’s known to locals, has embraced the regions “colourful” Group of Seven history, not only through the art in the gallery, but also embracing their rail history as well. For the artists and for you, Sault Ste. Marie will be the send off into the region. One hundred and one years ago, with no highways going north, the group utilized the railway, catching the train in Sault Ste. Marie. Along this rail line they camped and paddled through the remote areas allowing them a feeling of peace and tranquility they could not find in the larger cities in southern Ontario. They came here to heal from the war and to try to make sense of the untimely death of their friend Tom Thomson. But they did much more than heal, they found themselves, and their inspiration through the landscapes of this beautiful region. Much like the tourists of today, once the Group of Seven visited the first time, they came again and again.
If you are riding the rails into Algoma on the Agawa Canyon Tour Train, your departure will be the beautiful new train station. But whether you are riding the train or not, the brand-new train station, as well as the rail car #10557, are a must do stop! The bright red boxcar was recreated for the documentary, A Painted Land, In Search of the Group of Seven, and remains on display outside the train station. It is a perfect replica of the rail car that the Group called home many times through their travels in Algoma. It’s a perfect photo op for the true Group of Seven fan.
As you travel through Algoma Country, in search of the Group of Seven’s inspirations, you would be remiss if you did not start your trip by visiting the Art Gallery of Algoma. Located on the St. Marys River, the Art Gallery of Algoma is home to a diverse permanent collection of artwork – including original pieces by members of the Group of Seven. Find an interpretive panel in the Elsie Savoie Sculpture Park near the boardwalk.
The Art Gallery of Algoma’s permanent collection includes numerous Group of Seven site specific sketches and studies. Shop for Group of Seven related books, gifts, calendars and memorabilia in the gift shop. Be sure to visit the Gallery’s website for ongoing and rotating Group of Seven exhibits
You can experience their travels on the rail, and travel along the coastline of Lake Superior by vehicle on Highway 17 North. Starting just outside of Sault Ste. Marie at Chippewa Falls, and continuing along Ontario’s most beautiful coast to Nipigon/Red Rock you will find many sites and interpretive panels that will tell more of the story of the Group of Seven in this region. Don’t travel fast but rather enjoy, explore, and pause. You will gain a better understanding of why this area was a favourite of the Group of Seven.
You will discover that today, this region remains rich in beautiful forests, crystal clear lakes, and rivers still filled with plentiful fish and game. This area is so lucky that so many vistas painted by the Group remain untouched today. There is a sense of beauty and serenity here that one must truly experience, much like the Group of Seven did just over a hundred years ago.
Remember, memories are made through a gathering of great moments, seven men captured their moments in Algoma, it is time to capture yours. Learn more about the discovery route here.
Drive north of the city along highway 17 and you’ll reach Chippewa Falls, the halfway point of Trans Canada Hwy 17. Visit this waterfall along the Lake Superior Circle Tour where painter A.Y. Jackson sketched the rapids which became “Streambed, Lake Superior Country”. Chippewa Falls also inspired J.E.H. MacDonald to paint ‘Batchewana Rapid‘.
The falls can be seen from the viewing bridge near the parking lot. To hike alongside the waterfall, please proceed with caution as trails can be challenging beside this fast moving water.
By Sault Tourism
The Sault Ste. Marie Museum, located in the heart of downtown, houses a fascinating collection of historical exhibits that helps visitors learn about the history of the city all the way back to its earliest days. Check out the Edmund Fitzgerald display in the Marine Gallery, which includes a replica scale model of the famous ship. View historic photographs to see what our waterfront and downtown used to look like, and enjoy some of local sport history including the Soo Greyhounds!
The Sault Ste. Marie Museum though is not just a space curated to tell the history of the local area, it also hosts many fun and unique events, publishes a weekly podcast series, contains a gift shop, and has a new interactive feature utilizing QR codes, which adds video and audio information to many of the displays. Come for a visit when you are in the Soo!
The Sault Ste. Marie Museum is a heritage building constructed originally as a post office between 1904-1906 after the city received $20,000 in funding from the Dominion Government. Like many buildings in Sault Ste. Marie it used sandstone excavated during the construction of the canal, with the iconic clock tower being added in 1912. At this point the Museum, then the Post Office was the largest and grandest building in the City and became a local landmark, being the first sight of the city for approaching travelers.
Today visitors can enjoy the typically Ontarian eclectic architecture combining several styles including uniquely cut stone walls, Romanesque arched windows, magnificent oak stair case and an exquisite three-storey skylight, and the 110 year old clock tower remains an iconic landmark of downtown Sault Ste. Marie.
The Skylight Gallery, on the second floor, is a walkthrough history and the story of Sault Ste. Marie from its early beginnings to the present day. Displays feature artifacts and information on the first people in the area with a full sized Wigwam and early canoe offering fascinating insight into historic life. Other displays feature information on the local fur trade, mining and the lumber trade, which as the displays tells, in 1810 became the main export from Canada.
Moving into the twentieth century the museum has exhibits on healthcare including nursing as well as policing and fire management. Additional information including archived video and audio is available via a series of QR codes, including the one below, which adds an interactive component to any visit of the Sault Museum.
The Discovery Gallery is a fun and interactive, hands-on learning children’s area. It contains artifacts and features nature species, photographs as well as a dress-up area. This space is also used to host workshops, activities and events, more of which is mentioned later in this article.
On the third floor is the Music Gallery, which showcases Sault Ste. Marie musicians and venues through the ages. Bands and musical groups originated at the turn of last century during the days of silent movies, and Sault Ste. Marie had its fair share of entertainers. Sounds from these bands would commonly be heard emerging from the Algoma Theatre, Grand Opera House and the St. Marys River Boat Club. During the 1950s and 1960s when smaller Rock & Roll bands became fashionable, musical acts would perform in local Sault Ste. Marie bars including the Victoria House, The Royal, Lock City Hotel and more.
The Music Gallery houses a collection memorabilia, artifacts and videos from these eras and also contains ‘The Sault Music Project’, a giant binder of past and present Soo musicians!
The Marine Gallery offers a pictorial display of early Great Lakes cruise ships, a brief history of the Locks and scale models of two of the more storied Great Lakes ships, the Edmund Fitzgerald and the Chicora.
The Chicora was a British blockade-runner for the Confederate Army during the American Civil War. Her role was primarily to transport guns and ammunition from Bermuda to Charleston. After the war, the ship was transformed into an overnight passenger and freight vessel, and carried mail and passengers from Collingwood to Sault Ste. Marie. In 1870, the Chicora was again involved in a dispute with America when she was refused entry to the American locks and was forced to unload its army destined for the Red River Rebellion. This particular incident, as well as a general tension between the two countries, spurred the building of a Canadian canal in Sault Ste. Marie.
The Edmund Fitzgerald is perhaps the most famous ship to be associated with the Great Lakes, having sunk in a November storm in 1975 killing the entire crew of twenty-nine. A scale model, as well as information about the ship’s fateful timeline, can be viewed in the Marine Gallery of The Sault Museum.
The Sports Hall of Fame gallery depicts local athleticism from the 1800s forward and features artifacts and photos showcasing the wide variety of sports that represent our city. Check out the Eliason Motor Toboggan, and a special commemorative display for the 1948 NOHA champions, the Soo Greyhounds!
A video presentation highlights various sports and the people involved. The gallery is dedicated to Russell H. Ramsay, local sportscaster, president & general manager of Hyland Radio & TV. He served as an Alderman on city council and served as the MPP for Sault Ste. Marie 1978-1985.
This gallery, on the first floor, is dedicated to Lt. Col. Walter Wallace, past commanding officer of the 49th Field Regiment RCA, past president of Royal Canadian Legion – Branch 25 – and past president of the Sault Ste. Marie & 49th Field Regiment RCA Historical Society. Walter was a big advocate for museum later serving as president of the board of directors. He helped oversee the move of the historical Society’s collection to the museum in 1983.
The museum’s wartime collection includes a selection of diaries from 1914 to 1918, military medals and badges, trench art, photographs, and uniforms among other items.
COMMEMORATIVE OLYMPIC METAL DATE: 1928
This bronze gold metal was awarded to Sault Ste. Marie local Olympian Boxer Ray Smillie in the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The bronze disc has an image of a seated female figure; with the words stamped; “IX Olympiad Amsterdam, 1928”.
SURVEYOR’S STAKE DATE: 1846
The stake was used by local surveyor Alexander Vidal. The large square wooden post, pointed at both ends of the stake, features carved lettering on all four sides to depict the direction from the stake in which each divided land plot would begin. It was used to dictate plots and streets based on Vidal’s surveying.
COMMEMORATIVE KEYS DATE: OCTOBER 28, 1954 & NOVEMBER 7, 1963
These two commemorative keys were presented to the Grey Sisters of the Immaculate Conception during two significant ceremonies in Sault Ste. Marie. The keys celebrated the grand opening of the General Hospital’s addition of the New Pavilion’s B Wing in 1954 and the Pavilion’s A and Y wing in 1963.
Located inside is also a great gift shop, the Clock Tower Gift Shop, which contains unique books about the area, local art works, craft works by local consigners and various locally made gifts and goodies!
Every Thursday, the Sault Museum publishes a podcast under the series titled ‘Stories of Northern Life’. This unique and fascinating series covers local history, tells important local stories, and from time to time has a Q&A with Museum experts and staff, where often-wondered questions like ‘Is the museum haunted?’ are discussed.
The Sault Ste. Marie Museum runs many unique and fun events and activities each week. Whether it’s a Prohibition Event with beer tasting and trivia, Murder Mystery nights, Scottish Highland dancing or one of the various paint nights including ‘Bad Art Club’ and ‘Star Wars Paint Night’. All the information about the various events can be found here!
For more information about this wonderful collection of local history, visit the Sault Ste. Marie Museum’s website.
And did you know that you can pick up a 4-Culture Attraction Pass on the Sault Tourism website? This Pass will give you 10% off admission to the Sault Ste. Marie Museum as well as the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre, the Ermatinger Clergue National Historic Site and the Art Gallery of Algoma. Click here and scroll down the page to learn more. Plan your cultural visit in Sault Ste. Marie today!