Enjoy a Heritage Meal at the Old Stone House
“The stone house la Maison de Pierre, as they call it, a large mansion built of stone by a former agent of the Northwest Hudson Bay Company, who lived there with his family, servants, horses and hounds and gave hospitable dinners in those days when it was the fashion for the host to do so…” William Cullen Bryant
Today the Ermatinger home as well as the Francis H. Clergue block house is part of Sault Ste. Marie’s most notable National Historic Sites. In the heart of downtown Sault Ste. Marie, overlooking the St. Marys River, it’s a property of historical significance. The city has not only preserved this precious piece of property but has enhanced it and has made it accessible to everyone to enjoy a piece of our past.
With two stone homes and an interactive Heritage Discovery Centre, Ermatinger-Clergue National Historic Site has become a must-see attraction when travelling to the Sault and by local residents.
While there are an endless number of historical stories and interesting information about the site, along with a fully stocked unique gift shop, I was most intrigued by their culinary programs. I was welcomed to the site by William Hollingshead, Heritage Programmer, who gave me the inside scoop about what is offered through the programs.
Heritage Culinary Experiences
For a truly unique dining experience, the summer kitchen is a perfect setting for guests to gather and enjoy one of the heritage meals, much like Mr. Ermatinger was known for many years ago. The set menus developed by Chef Alma Kasch, including high tea, breakfast, lunch, or a “Voyageur Dinner” are offered any time of year.
William pointed out that anyone can book, but there must be a minimum of ten people and can accommodate up to thirty-six guests. These experiences have been popular for birthdays, Christmas parties, business meetings, wedding parties, and more. They don’t take drop-ins, but 2 – 3 families can get together and book an event.
They have been offering these unique culinary experiences for 6 years now with no signs of slowing down. People love them and there is always a pleasant surprise from many diners that it’s offered locally, William mentioned. The staff wear period costumes and the food is served on blue willow pattern dishes, which is a historical pattern. All of this adds to the cultural experience.
The food served, is sourced from the gardens as much as possible when in season, it’s also sourced from local (Algoma) farms and they’re always looking for more opportunities to source locally. While the premise is not licensed to serve alcohol, they can and do get special occasion permits depending on the group size.
I am told that the heritage culinary experiences are very well received with non-stop bookings and have increased visitation for the museum as well as brought in needed revenue.
A key ingredient to the culinary experience is the heritage gardens on the grounds surrounding this historic site. The gardens produce herbs and period plants and vegetables, as well as berries and flowers along with an orchard of apple trees. As mentioned, the food grown is used wherever needed in the kitchens.
Festivals and Events
Other events throughout the year include Evenings in the Summer Kitchen Dinners, Moonlight Madness, Christmas Evening in the Summer Kitchen, Lilac & Lavender Victorian High Tea, Strawberry Social, and Blueberry Festival to name a few. There is no shortage of many types of culinary experiences with a heritage twist. For dates and times, check the website or follow Facebook.
What a wonderful asset this vibrant, beautiful and busy historical site Sault Ste. Marie has in its midst! If you haven’t been yet, you should go! You won’t be disappointed! If you haven’t been in a while, visit and explore the “Old Stone House”. There is always something fresh and new happening there.
All photo credits: Ermatinger Clergue National Historical Site.
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