Charles Oakes Ermatinger
Fur · Fourrure · Biiway
Charles Oakes Ermatinger was one of many businessmen who played a key role in the fur trade in Sault Ste. Marie. Ermatinger began his life in Montreal, Quebec, and as he became involved in the fur trade he travelled throughout North America. In 1798, he married Mananowe, the daughter of Chief Katawabeta, an Ojibway chief in Minnesota. The family moved to Sault Ste. Marie in 1808 and constructed their Stone House in 1812-1814, where they lived for 14 years.
The house, widely recognized as “a mansion in the wilderness,” was originally surrounded by 252 acres of forest and farmland. Here Ermatinger sold European products to Indigenous peoples in exchange for fur. The fur was shipped to Montreal with voyageurs who stopped to rest in Sault Ste. Marie.
After the Ermatingers, the Old Stone House was used as a hotel (Pim), a sheriff’s office (Carney), courtrooms (Judge Col. Prince), a boarding house, a social club, and even an apartment building! Over the years, the house had many prominent and distinguished visitors that played a vital role in the development of Canada (Selkirk, Col. Worsley, Paul Kane, etc.). In 1970 it was restored as a National Historic Site. It remains one of the only physical reminders of the Ermatinger family’s contribution to Canadian history.
Test your knowledge
Question 1Which animal was most commonly traded?
Did you know?
Beaver pelts were a valuable commodity and were often used by Europeans to create felt hats.
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How is the house different from your home? Can you draw one of the buildings?