EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was based on a presentation made by Ermatinger-Clergue’s Kathy Fisher at this week’s meeting of the Sault’s historic sites board, plus subsequent discussions with Michael Odom, executive director of Entomica. Since publication, Entomica’s John Dedes has contacted us to state that Rosie the tarantula was not “grumpy” on the day in question, and that he does not definitely know what caused him to break out in hives afterward. Dedes vigorously defends the safety of Entomica’s insect-handling practices. The headline on this story has been updated
Buckets of poutine and a fiesty red-haired tarantula helped push Ermatinger-Clergue National Historic Site to an all-time attendance record last year.
"Drumroll please!" said curator Kathy Fisher as she announced this week that the popular tourist attraction drew a record 31,065 visitors in just-finished 2019.
That compared to attendance of 22,517 in 2018 and 21,107 in 2017.
Targeted attendance for last year was 23,584.
Fifteen thousand poutines were scarfed down at Poutine Feast from June 28 to July 1, leading some out-of-town vendors to seriously wonder if it was the first time the popular Québécois dish had been served to Saultites.
This year's Poutine Feast is planned for July 1 to 5, 2020.
Like most New World tarantulas, Rosie has urticating hairs that are molted as a self-defence mechanism.
Michael Odom, Entomica's executive director, says Rosie has been handled by hundreds of people without incident.
But last Halloween, attention from throngs of adoring Saultites apparently caused Rosie to become anxious.
The mildly-venomous hairs she shed caused Dedes to break out in hives for three or four days, Odom told SooToday.
This year, Ermatinger-Clergue National Historic Site is preparing to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the completion of the Canadian locks and the 150th anniversary of the Chicora Incident.