School Programmes

Religious Education Through the Story of the Martyrs




A Journey Towards Christ with Jean de Brébeuf and His Companions


Available: May through October
Group Size: Up to 100 students
Programme Fee: $ 6.00 (Martyrs’ Shrine) + $ 6.00 (Sainte-Marie among the Hurons)
Programme Duration: 5 to 6 hours


Walk-Where-They-Walked is a full-day pilgrimage experience developed for both grade school and high school students in the Roman Catholic separate school boards of Ontario.  An interdisciplinary experience, and developed following basic principles of education outlined in the internationally recognised Jesuit programme of education (Ignatian-Pedagogical- Paradigm), pilgrims are invited to prayerfully enter into the lives St. Jean de Brébeuf and his companions so as to: (1) enrich their understanding of the Roman Catholic tradition; (2) reflect upon their personal relationship with Jesus Christ; (3) inform them on various aspects of the early modern history of Canada; and (4) provide the opportunity for ongoing physical education.


Sample Programme Schedule

10:00 AM        Arrival at Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons
10:15 AM A specialised tour of the historic site where the Jesuit missionaries lived and worked among the Wendat people that highlights important historical elements related to: (1) the life of St. Jean de Brébeuf; (2) the story of ‘First Contact’ between the missionaries and their Wendat Companions; and (3) the daily life at Sainte-Marie.
12:00 PM Lunch Break
12:45 PM A prayer service at the graves of St. Jean de Brébeuf and Gabriel Lallemant (led by a Jesuit Priest), followed by a procession up to the the Martyrs’ Shrine.
1:05 PM Film Presentation – Martyrs’ Shrine: A Home of Peace
1:30 PM Pastoral Integration – A presentation given by a Jesuit Priest integrating aspects of the lives of the Canadian Martyrs into the pastoral reality of the Christian life today.
1:45 PM Break-Out Discussion –  Pilgrims are led, by a Spiritual Animator, in a practical activity that invites them to reflect upon what they have seen and heard during their day of pilgrimage, and to consider how the story of Jean de Brébeuf and his companions might effect their own relationships with God.
2:10 PM Mass and Blessing with the Relics – Pilgrims have the opportunity to have a personalised Mass in the Shrine Church, and to be blessed with the relics of Jean de Brébeuf and Gabriel Lallemant.
2:40 PM Optional Tour of the Grounds or physical education activities led by the teaching staff in attendance.


All educational groups participating in our Walk Where They Walked programme will receive an interactive compact disc containing a curriculum based lesson plan upon booking. These lessons have been developed in consultation with the five separate school boards of the Archdiocese of Toronto and the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board.

This CD contains:

  • A lesson plan covering the history of Jesuits in Canada – the Huronia Missions.
  • Questions to which the answers can be discovered by students by visiting the Martyrs’ Shrine church, museum and, within the video viewed by programme participants.
  • Images of the Martyrs’ Shrine church and grounds.
  • 17th Century Maps
  • Songs written by Father Brébeuf and Jogues.

This CD is intended to be an introduction to the Martyrs’ Shrine as well as an educational classroom resource for teaching staff integrating the theme of Huronia history with Social Studies and the Fine Arts curriculum.


If you would like to expand Walk-Where-They-Walked into an overnight directed retreat  programme, please inquire about our 32-bed on-site dormitory facility.



A Winter High School Retreat Programme at Martyrs’ Shrine


Available: February through March
Group Size: Up to 50 students
Programme Fee: $ 12.00
Programme Duration: 5 to 6 hours


God has blessed each one of us with certain gifts and a unique vocation through which they are invited to lovingly share them with the world. Recognizing, as the Canadian Martyrs did, that the more deeply one embraces Jesus Christ, the more she/he can discover their own vocations, A Journey of Discovery with Christ is a day-long retreat programme that invites students and their teachers to set out on a journey of self-discovery alongside St. Jean de Brébeuf and his companions towards a deeper union with Jesus Christ. Walking with them, each student is invited to: (I) discover and express her/his personal giftedness; (II) to reflectively discern how God might want her/him to use their gifts; and (III) to more deeply comprehend how each of us have been gifted with talents that together can make the divine aspirations for the world a reality.

Programme Highlights

  1. Facilitated programme led by a Jesuit Priest
  2. Integrated interactive activities led by a trained Pastoral Animator
  3. A snow-shoe procession to St. Joseph’s Church, Sainte-Marie among the Hurons
  4. A personalized fireside Mass by the graves of St. Jean de Brébeuf and St. Gabriel Lalemant.

Example Retreat Schedule

9:45 AM Arrival/Comfort Break

10:00 AM Welcome/Introduction

10:15 AM Integrated Interdisciplinary Session – The Lives of the Martyrs and the Gifts of God

10:40 AM Group Activity – ‘My Gifts’

11:00 AM Guided Meditation – ‘How have I used my gifts’?

11:30 AM Individual Activity – Writing Out My Gift in a Letter to God

12:00 PM Lunch

12:45 PM Snowshoe pilgrimage from Martyrs’ Shrine to St. Joseph’s Church, Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons

1:15 PM Mass by Firelight – A Mass where the gifts of the students will be offered to God at the altar.

2:00 PM Hot Chocolate Break

2:15 PM Departure from Sainte-Marie among the Hurons

Retreat Facilitators

Fr. Michael Knox, SJ, DPhil (Oxon)
Fr. Patrick Coldricks, BEd
Fr. James Kelly, SJ
Fr. Steve LeBlanc, SJ,BEd
Fr. Ahil Sivarajah, SJ
Mr. John Zurakowski

Interdisciplinary Curriculum Components

Education, in the Jesuit tradition, has always encouraged a holistic and interdisciplinary pedagogy for students that bring together both their scholastic and spiritual formation. A Journey of Discovery with Christ, therefore provides a tailored retreat experience for students, rooted in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola, which integrates elements of their grade level’s particular religion, social science, and physical education curriculum requirements.

(I) Grade Nine Students

Having been invited in the classroom to deepen their understanding of both the joys and the demands of following in the way of Christ and living out the call to discipleship, students will be exposed to elements in the lives of St. Jean de Brébeuf and his companions which highlight this theme, and encouraged to see the gift of their virtues of faithfulness, love, obedience to God, justice, generosity, forgiveness, and hopefulness; human qualities meant to be lived out in the loving service of God and neighbor.

(II) Grade Ten Students

Encouraged by their teachers to compare in their hearts the message that springs forth from the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ with contemporary culture – learning to live out Christian life in an expanding secular age – students will share in the experiences of the Canadian Martyrs who saw their journey to the New World as a journey through the Cross of Christ into a mystical landscape of divine relationship. Feeling called by Christ, desiring to model their own lives on Christ, and believing that God was present in every aspect of their mission, Jean de Brébeuf and his companions will act as models of reflection, as the students continue to learn how a Christian, in contemporary culture, understand human purpose, as well as relationship with God, Church, and the world.

(III) Grade Eleven Students

Having been Introduced, in the classroom, to the world’s major religious traditions, including Aboriginal spirituality, the positive encounter between the culture of the Canadian Martyrs and that of the Wendat peoples will be the platform for the day’s retreat. Walking with St. Jean de Brébeuf, who saw in the people whom he served many gifts and a divine beauty, who laboured alongside them in learning their language, culture, and traditions, and who sought the presence of Christ already somehow present, students will be invited to grow in their vision of God’s presence in all things and everywhere. They will, in this sense, be asked to consider: who is the Christ I love, and how can I use my talents to help reveal His loving presence in the diverse world I live in?

(IV) Grade Twelve Students

Presented with the map of ethical experience recommended for the Catholic community, and invited to reflect upon the ways in which they can build up a ‘civilization of love’, students will reflect upon the ways in which the lives and deaths of Jean de Brébeuf and his companions propose a way of ‘becoming’ fully human through the graces of self-offering love to Jesus Christ.

(V) General Social Studies

The earliest days of Canadian history cannot be studied without reference to the Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents, which together form the single most consistent and comprehensive description of the period. Using the lives of either one of its authors, or a principle character found in its pages, as the principle substance for the day of retreat, A Journey of Discovery with Christ, not only reflects on these characters as examples of faith that unit us all the more to Christ, but also exposes students to important historical data that enriches their understanding of the early modern European colonial and Canadian context.

(VI) Physical Education

Interested in supporting not only the mind and soul of students, but also their physical health, A Journey of Discovery with Christ, includes a 20-minute snowshoe prayer walk down to St. Joseph’s Church, Sainte-Marie among the Hurons; also incorporating the Ministry of Education’s daily physical activity requirements.

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About the Martyrs

Jesuit missionaries worked among the Huron (Wendat), who occupied territory in the Georgian Bay area called Huronia. They established and laboured at the Sainte-Marie Mission.


In 1642, the Mohawk captured St. René Goupil, and St. Isaac Jogues, bringing them back to their village of Ossernenon south of the Mohawk River. They ritually tortured both men, and killed Goupil. After several months of captivity, Jogues was ransomed by Dutch traders and the minister Johannes Megapolensisfrom New Netherland (later Albany). He returned for a time to France, but then sailed back to Quebec. In 1646 he and Jean de Lalande were killed during a visit to Ossernenon intended to achieve peace between the French and the Mohawk.

The other Jesuit missionaries were killed by the Mohawk and martyred in the following years: Antoine Daniel (1648), Jean de Brébeuf (1649), Noël Chabanel(1649), Charles Garnier (1649), and Gabriel Lalemant (1649). All were canonized in 1930 as the Canadian Martyrs, also known as the North American Martyrs.

20150727_131338Gift Shop

This unique Gift Shop at Martyrs’ Shrine is open from May to October and offers pilgrims an extensive selection of religious articles, souvenirs, and gift ideas. It features art, jewellery, postcards, books, prayer cards, crosses, rosaries, and much more.

Sainte-Marie among the Hurons

Ontario’s first European Community, Sainte-Marie among the Hurons was the headquarters for the French Jesuit Mission to the Huron Wendat people. In 1639, the Jesuits, along with French lay workers, began construction of a fenced community that included barracks, a church, workshops, residences, and a sheltered area for Native visitors. By 1648, Sainte-Marie was a wilderness home to 66 French men, representing one-fifth of the entire population of New France. Sainte-Marie's brief history ended in 1649, when members of the mission community were forced to abandon and burn their home of nearly ten years.   After extensive archaeological and historical research initiated by the Society of Jesus, Sainte-Marie among the Hurons is now recreated on its original site, where the mission’s compelling story is brought to life.   Connected to Martyrs' Shrine by trail, this world-renowned reconstruction illustrates the interaction of the Canadian Martyrs and Wendat nations. Visitors get a unique opportunity to see the earliest Canadian pioneer life, through guided or self-guided visits, school group tours, interactive education programs, special events, and corporate functions.

Driving Directions

Option A:

  • Follow Hwy. 400 North.
  • Take exit 121 to merge onto Hwy. 93.
  • North on Hwy. 93 for 24 km.
  • Turn right onto Hwy. 12 to Midland.
  • East on Hwy. 12 for 5 km.

Option B:

  • Follow Hwy. 400 North.
  • Take exit 147 to merge onto Hwy. 12 West.
  • West on Hwy. 12 for 13 km.

  • Follow Hwy. 26 to Hwy. 92/Mosley St.
  • East on Hwy. 92 through Elmvale.
  • Continue straight onto Hwy. 19 East.
  • Turn left onto Hwy. 93.
  • North on Hwy. 93 for 16 km.
  • Turn right onto Hwy. 12.
  • East on Hwy. 12 for 5 km.

  • Follow Hwy. 11 South to Orillia.
  • Take exit 133 to merge onto Hwy. 12.
  • West on Hwy. 12 for 40 km.

  • Follow Hwy. 69 South/Hwy. 400 South.
  • Take exit 147 to merge onto Hwy. 12.
  • West on Hwy. 12 for 13 km.


GPS Coordinates & Tips

  • For those requiring our GPS coordinates for navigation, please use the following coordinates for our location:
    • Latitude 44.73681
    • Longitude -79.84169
  • Experiencing difficulties finding the Martyrs’ Shrine with your GPS? Please try any of the following alternatives:
    • Ontario 12 or ONT 12, in place of the street name
    • Tay Township, in place of the city/town
    • locate a nearby intersection: Ontario 12 & William St.