Maja Ermatinger, along with her daughter Christina Ermatinger and husband Tobias Ermatinger (pictured), were on hand for the long-awaited official opening of the Ermatinger-Clergue National Historic Site’s new Heritage Discovery Centre Thursday.
The Ermatingers travelled from Schaffhausen, Switzerland to attend Thursday’s ceremony, as part of a vacation to North America.
Charles Oakes Ermatinger, the wealthy fur trader who lived in the Site’s Old Stone House during the War of 1812, was born in Montreal in 1776, of Swiss descent.
The 19th-century fur trader is a part of the Ermatinger’s family tree, so for Maja, Christina and Tobias, Thursday’s grand opening of the Heritage Discovery Centre, which is a complementary, new component of the Ermatinger-Clergue National Historic Site, was a proud and pleasant look into their family history.
Tobias told SooToday.com the family first learned of the family connection with Charles Ermatinger and the Old Stone House 20 years ago.
“We were very surprised and proud,” Tobias said.
“Some tourists from our home town were here and said to us ’did you know you have a stone house in Canada?”
The family then visited the Old Stone House, for the first time, on a vacation to Canada in 2005.
The family met and kept in touch with Kathy Fisher, the Ermatinger-Clergue National Historic Site’s curator.
The family told us they had visited Arizona on their current vacation, but considered Thursday’s visit to the new Heritage Discovery Centre the culmination of their trip.
The $4 million Heritage Discovery Centre is the result of much planning, hard work and funding from all three levels of government.
Joe Fratesi, Sault Ste. Marie’s chief administrative officer, served as emcee of Thursday’s ceremony, which included Mayor Debbie Amaroso, Sault MP Bryan Hayes, Cindy Ellen Crawford (on behalf of Sault MPP David Orazietti), Sault Ste. Marie Historic Sites Board chair Kathryn McAuley Yukich and Ermatinger-Clergue National Historic Site curator Kathy Fisher.
The public was invited in for a tour after the ceremonial untying of a Metis sash on the Centre’s south door.
For photos of the interior, click here.
Full text of a news release issued today by the Office of MPP David Orazietti follows.
Province Supporting Unique Historical Centre in Sault Ste. Marie
Today marked the official grand opening of the $4 million Heritage Discovery Centre at the Ermatinger-Clergue National Historic Site, a new facility dedicated to showcasing Sault Ste. Marie’s history and the role of the city’s early founders in the War of 1812.
“The province is pleased to support the construction of the new Heritage Discovery Centre which celebrates our city’s rich past and many of the defining moments in the history of our country,” said David Orazietti, MPP. “This investment will enhance existing educational programing offered at the Ermatinger-Clergue National Historic Site and new, added attractions will help to boost local tourism.”
The new Heritage Discovery Centre features an exhibition gallery, a War of 1812 gallery, a multimedia theatre, expanded gift shop, and administrative spaces.
The province supported the construction of the new building, as well as renovations to the Ermatinger House (Old Stone House) with $1 million in funding from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund (NOHFC).
The new Heritage Discover Centre will provide students, local residents and visitors to the city with additional opportunities to learn about Sault Ste. Marie’s history through innovative, interactive demonstrations and programming.
The Centre’s opening coincides with the 200th anniversary of completion of construction of the Old Stone House and in the concluding year of the city’s three-year, Bicentennial commemoration of the War of 1812.
Since 2003, NOHFC has invested $87 million in 728 projects in Sault Ste. Marie, creating or sustaining more than 2,687 jobs.
Some of the key NOHFC investments in Sault Ste. Marie since 2003 include:
· $5 million Agawa Canyon Tour Train
· $2.5 million Heliene Solar Manufacturing Plant
· $2.4 million for the Sault Ste. Marie Airport Development Corporation
· $2.3 million for Algoma University Biosciences and Technology Building ($10.3 million total provincial investment)
· $2.1 million Flakeboard Ltd. Expansion
· $2 million Sault College - IT Infrastructure, Multi-Media Centre, Wind Energy Training Centre
· $1.6 million Hub Trail & Waterfront Walkway Expansion ($3.1 million total provincial investment)
· $1.5 million West End Recreation Centre ($6.2 million total provincial investment)
· $1.5 million for Sault College Academic Building ($9.5 million total provincial investment)
· $1.5 million Huron Central Rail upgrades ($16.5 million total provincial investment)
· $1 million Triple M Metal
· $1 million Heritage Discovery Centre
· $1 million Essar Centre ($4.7 million total provincial investment)
· $1 million Algoma Public Health building – Technology ($9.3 million total provincial investment)
· $1 million City - Emergency Response Centre (EMS) ($2.2 million total provincial investment)
· $1 million SIS Manufacturing to upgrade equipment and infrastructure
· $785,500 Palmer Construction Group Inc.
· $738,200 for Rector Machine Works infrastructure and equipment upgrades
· $550,000 Group Health Centre office expansion
· $475,000 Soo Foundry & Machine equipment upgrade
· $202,750 China Steel equipment upgrades
The Heritage Discovery Centre is the largest single investment at the Ermatinger● Clergue National Historic Site since it opened its doors in 1970.
Since 2003, the NOHFC has invested $930 million in 6,055 projects in Northern Ontario, creating or sustaining more than 23,400 jobs.