The project, which was unveiled at the museum on July 10, 2019, was supported by Nation Huronne-Wendat and the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville – the community where the Mantle Site was uncovered. The Mantle Site is the largest and most complex ancestral Wendat-Huron village to be excavated in the Lower Great Lakes region to date. It represents nearly 100 longhouses in a coalesced complex of a massive pre-European contact city.
Howald led the digital reconstruction, which reflects the sights, touch and smells of a traditional longhouse environment. “My focus was to enhance the environment through texture and light to create a greater phenomenological experience” explains Howald. Simulated artifacts adorn the walls while traditional sweetgrass and other indigenous herbs hang from the ceiling. Users have the opportunity to freely walk in and around the digital landscape.
The project will remain on display at the museum all year, with an updated virtual reality (VR) version launching in the fall.
“This is the largest and most complex exhibition we have ever created at our facility and we never envisioned that we could offer something like this to our guests,” says Stephanie Foley, curator and supervisor of the Whitchurch-Stouffville Museum. “We have offered First Nation’s educational programming for years, but this visual representation of the longhouse will bring the idea alive for our young visitors, and the young at heart.