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Remember This? The many lives of the Old Stone House

From the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library archives: The Old Stone House was built as the home of the Ermatinger family. Charles Oakes Ermatinger was born in Montreal in 1776 and followed other family members into the fur trade.
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From the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library archives:

The Old Stone House was built as the home of the Ermatinger family.  

Charles Oakes Ermatinger was born in Montreal in 1776 and followed other family members into the fur trade. 

He began his fur trading career in 1797 in Sand Lake on the Mississippi River. 

When his family returned to Montreal, he became associated with the North West Company, the XY Company and the American Fur Company and eventually became a partner and agent with the North West Company in 1805.  

While on an expedition to Sand Lake, Minnesota, Charles Ermatinger met his future wife Mananowe, the daughter of the influential Ojibway Chief Katawabeta. 

The two later wed in the fashion of the day, which simply required a verbal business contract! 

This marriage ensured Charles’ success in the fur trade. 

After their marriage, Charles Ermatinger changed his wife’s name to Charlotte. 

They had six children by the time they arrived in Sault Ste. Marie, a small fur trading post at that time. 

They had seven more children during their years in this area. 

A Commander during the War of 1812 he took part in the capture of Fort Mackinaw.   

With his rapidly expanding family and the need for a permanent fur trade post in this area, Charles Ermatinger decided to build a new home. 

Completed in 1814, after almost two years of construction, the Ermatinger House is Canada’s oldest heritage home located north-west of Toronto.   

The stone construction and the use of large cedar logs were considered to be unique for the area at this time making it a central hub of the village when it was completed.  

In his trading post, Ermatinger stocked European goods which he would exchange with the natives for their trapped furs. 

The furs were then shipped by canoe back to Montreal. 

Charles and his family lived in the Ermatinger (Old Stone) House for 14 years before returning to Montreal in 1828.  

Many prominent local citizens lived in the home during the next century including in 1834, Anglican missionary, William MacMurray and his wife Charlotte, well-known for establishing a church and school for the Ojibway people. 

In 1853, David and Margaret Pim bought the home for $3,000 turning it into the Stone House Hotel. 

By 1858, the house was taken over by Richard Carney, the first sheriff in Sault Ste. Marie. 

In 1859, Judge Prince, the first Judge in the area, used the two rooms located on the west side as court rooms. 

Meanwhile, William Carney, the second sheriff in Sault Ste. Marie, son of Richard Carney, lived on the second floor of the house until the early 1900s.  

Throughout the 1900s, after the Carneys' departure, the Ermatinger House changed owners multiple times serving a variety of uses. 

The house was used by the Y.M.C.A as a meeting hall and a boarding house for girls.

In the 1930s, A.F. Hamilton purchased it and it became a social club with a tea room, dance hall and outdoor cabins for rent. 

By the 1940s the house was converted into four apartment units.   

In 1964 the City of Sault Ste. Marie purchased the Old Stone House and began the restoration process to feature the home as it appeared when Charles Ermatinger and his family lived there. 

The Ermatinger Old Stone House was designated as a National Historical Site in 1970 and it has continued to be a focal point of our downtown.       

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Each week, the Sault Ste. Marie Public Library and its Archives provides SooToday readers with a glimpse of the city’s past.

Find out more of what the Public Library has to offer at www.ssmpl.ca and look for more Remember This? columns here.