Huron People and the Black Robe Connection

“Saint Marie among the Hurons” is my destination of choice this summer, especially after watching the less-known Hollywood movie called “Black Robe.” This flick just crossed the T and dotted the I with its French Jesuit Missionaries connection with the Huron People of Canada.

Saint Marie among the Hurons was the mission for the French (Black Robe) Missionaries in 1692. (Then called New France)

Saint Marie among the Huron’s tourist attraction pamphlet reads:

Step back in time to the 17 century-old Canada on the beautiful shores of Georgian Bay. Experience Ontario’s oldest European communities and one of Canada’s most historical sites. Explore, join in on the fun, hear the legions in the famous Huron Long Houses. Touch history and experience life at this landmark French Jesuits Mission outpost in the heart of Huron “Wendat” First Nations territory.

As a longtime resident of that northern part of the country, we have been to Saint Marie among the Hurons many times, and it’s almost time to go back and renew our acquaintance. Today more than ever, it could hold more significance. The highly publicized and negative stories of the Indigenous residential schools that followed after the French Jesuits Mission time period.

Now, if you have never experienced a fun afternoon with a lot of history, this is a destination you must see. But beware the story behind the hardship the French Jesuit Priests and the Huron people ultimately faced could disturb some people.

The Huron people and the Black Robes are in fact a part of Canada’s history.

The  story starts here with Saint-Marie among the Hurons and the Black Robe Connection (Catholic French Jesuit Missionaries)

The webs define French Jesuits this way:

French Jesuit missionaries are described as a Society of Jesus, also known as “Soldiers of Christ.” they supposedly had great success in converting the pagans of Asia, Africa, and South America to Christianity. With the discovery of the New World and the natives who lived there, the Jesuits set their sites to the west, especially in Huron country, whose 30,000 population was quickly the most robust presence in New France. The idea was simple, convert the Huron natives to Christianity, the other tribes would follow.

Saint Marie among the Huron “Midland, Ontario, Canada,” was the known mission for the French (Black Robe) Jesuit Missionaries in 1639. Their purpose was to Christianize all these savages. As the French were already in Quebec,  they were going to spread their influence across New France as they called it. That area in question is at the top end of now called Ontario.

Did you know

John Paul II, the pope and the head of the Roman Catholic Church, visited Midland, Ontario, on Sept. 15, 1984. His stay included a mass on the Martyrs’ Shrine’s grounds (Saint-Marie among the Hurons) that attracted nearly 100,000 people.

Now the time was right. Black Robes made peace with most of the tribes in the region, and now was time to convert all of them into the Catholic faith.

But, the Jesuit priests, the workers, and their animals from Quebec brought with them an unknown visitor. They carried deadly infectious disease strains to which the native populations had never been exposed. Cholera, scarlet fever, smallpox, tuberculosis, amongst other deadly viruses.

It turned into the French Jesuit Priest doing what they thought was right, into killing a significant portion of the Indian population they initially wanted to save.

Saint-Marie among the Huron’s and the Black Robe Connection.

As the story goes, the priests must have used the pandemic to strengthen their position to Christianize the population. Historical references show deliberate transmission of smallpox from Europeans to the Indian Nation in and around that same time.

Some stories say the British general Jeffrey Amherst and the French priests that followed gave blankets taken from infected corpses and giving them to healthy natives. They deliberately provided small pox-laden blankets to healthy natives. French Jesuit missionaries told the Huron Natives that “they will be spared from the disease” if they were baptized and converted to Christianity. Those who refused died from the infected blankets.

Point of interest; More than 10,000 Huron Indians eventually died from smallpox and other ailments brought on by the European community.

But if you convert to Christianity, “God will save you,” one priest said.

This excellent historical and well-produced 1991  Movie called” Black Robe” by Alliance Communications Corporation, was banned in parts of our country, because of its content.

After reading the information given out at Saint Marie among the Hurons, the movie is based on history. In my estimation, this is the historical fact of the French Jesuit quest that failed. What happened and how the French and English treated the first citizens of Canada,  is now just history. In “Saint Marie among the Hurons” in “Midland, Ontario, Canada” Their government advertisement states these facts are accurately stated in my article.


“Saint Marie among the Hurons” should be your destination of choice this summer. The Hollywood movie called “Black Robe” is about the French Jesuit Missionaries from Quebec. And their interaction with the Huron People in Canada and is a must-see addition. However, the gist of this article is how Europe itself treated the New World and its people and the influence they had still seen today.