Introduction Michilimackinac and Sault Ste. Marie: Native Americans have passed through the Straits of Mackinac, between Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsula, or the St. Mary’s River at Sault Ste. Marie, on the St. Mary’s River leading to Lake Superior, for hundreds of years. Isaac Jogues, S.J., and Charles Raimbault, S.J., visited Sault Saint Marie in September or October 1641, but did not establish a mission. Following the destruction of Huronia, on Georgian Bay on Lake Huron by the Iroquois during the 1640s, the Petun Nation who lived on the Bruce Peninsula, the Huron / Wendat who lived in Huronia, and the Odawa / Ottawa who lived on Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron fled their homelands and established villages on Lake Superior in present-day Wisconsin and as far west as the Mississippi River, to avoid the Iroquois. In 1668, Claude Dablon, S.J., and Jacques Marquette, S.J. founded a mission serving the Ojibwa / Chippewa at Sault Ste. Marie. Claude Dablon, S.J., founded the first mission ministering to the Native Americans on Mackinac Island during the latter part of 1670, naming the mission St. Ignace. The following year, Jacques Marquette, S.J., moved the mission to present-day St. Ignace, Michigan on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. During the 17th century, the mission ministered to the Odawa / Ottawa and the Huron / Wendat. The first fort named Michilimackinac was also on the north shore. It moved to Mackinac City at the tip of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, in 1715. The forts at St. Ignace and Mackinac known as Michilimackinac became the center of the fur trade during the French Regime (through 1760 / 1763). In addition to being the center of the fur trade during the 17th century, all of the most important explorers launched their exploration of New France from Michilimackinac or Sault Ste Marie, Michigan. See the History of New France page for detailed timelines describing the 17th century events.
Portion of Jacques Nicolas Bellin – 1755 – Partie occidentale de la Nouvelle France ou du Canada: pour servir à l'intelligence des affaires et l'état present en Amerique
Establishing a Trade Network in the 18th Century - Lessons Learned from the Chevalier Family by Loraine DiCerbo. Loraine's series of articles about the Chevalier Family was selected by the FCHSM Board of Directors as the Best Series of Articles publlished in Michigan's Habitant Heritage for 2020-2022. FCHSM members, please log-in to read the articles published from October 2020 through 2022. If you are not a FCHSM member, you will have access to all of the articles published in MHH since 2008 after you join the society.
Profiles of Michilimackinac Families - In addition to the métis families, the profiles on this page will eventually include all of the families who lived at Michilimackinac families through 1799. My present focus is on completing profiles for the families who lived there during the French Regime. The recent emphasis by authors on Native Women means that the French-Canadian women and their families are often ignored, thereby creating a false impression of the families who lived at Michilimackinac, as well as the forts themselves. As you read these profiles, you will see how extensively these women travelled throughout the Great Lakes and to and from the St. Lawrence settlements. These women are just as worthy of our admiration as we admire the voyageurs and traders.
Some Families lived at Michilimackinac and Fort St. Joseph. It is also worth noting that some of the families actually lived in present day Green Bay, Wisconsin, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, St. Ignace, Michigan, or at another post and brought their children to be baptized or married at Michilimackinac. The remaining profiles will be completed as time permits.
Book Recommendations: Most books are available on inter-library loan to Michigan residents.
Armour, David A., editor, Attack at Michilimackinac 1763 Alexander Henry’s Travels and Adventures in Canada and the Indian Territories between the years 1760 and 1764 (Mackinac Island, Michigan: Mackinac Island State Park Commission, 1971).
Armour, David A., and Keith R. Widder, At the Crossroads: Michilimackinac during the American Revolution (Mackinac Island: Mackinac Island State Park Commission, 1986).
Dunnigan, Brian Leigh, A Picturesque Situation, Mackinac before Photography 1615 – 1860 (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2008).
Eustice, Sally, History of the Hearth – A Colonial Michilimackinac Cookbook (Mackinac Island, Michigan: Mackinac State Historic Parks, 1997).
Evans, Lynn L.M. Keys to the Past – Archaeological Treasures of Mackinac (Mackinac Island, Michigan: Mackinac State Historic Parks, 2003).
Kent, Timothy J., Rendezvous at the Straits: Fur Trade and Military Activities at Fort de Buade and Fort Michilimackinac, 1669 – 1781 (Ossineke: Silver Fox Enterprises, 2004).
Peyser, Joseph L. (translator and editor) and José Antonio Brandão (editor and author of the Introduction), Edge of Empire – Documents of Michilimackinac – 1671 – 1716 (East Lansing, Michigan and Mackinac Island, Michigan: Michigan State University Press and Mackinac State Historic Parks, 2008). The 62 documents translated in the volume provide the reader with great insight into the fur trade at Michilimackinac. It is an excellent complement to Kent’s and Dunnigan’s books on Michilimackinac.
Weller, Theresa L., The Founding Mothers of Mackinac Island: The Agatha Biddle Band of 1870 (Lansing, Michigan: Michigan State University Press, 2021). This book can be purchased from Amazon.
Widder, Keith R., Beyond Pontiac’s Shadow – Michilimackinac and the Anglo-Indian War of 1763 (East Lansing, Michigan: Michigan State University Press and Mackinac Island: Mackinac State Historic Parks, 2013).
Michel Chartier de Lotbinière’s 1749 Map of Michilimackinac
Additional Articles in Michigan’s Habitant Heritage (MHH): FCHSM members please log in and access the list of articles published in MHH. Following are a few of those articles.
The Cadotte Family, by John P. Dulong, Ph.D. John’s articles were published in MHH from July 2015 through January 2017
But I read it….Daniel Joseph Amiot dit Villeneuve had two wives?, by Suzanne Boivin Sommerville. This article was published in MHH in January 2011.
But I read it…Is Marie Françoise Alavoine, Wife of Jean Baptiste Chevalier, “of French and Menominee blood”?, by Suzanne Boivin Sommerville. This article was published in MHH in January 2012.
But I read it…Who Is the Father of the Charlotte Leduc dite Souligny Baptized at Michilimackinac in 1758 and Married at L’Assomption (Windsor) in 1771 to Joseph Mainville / Miville dit Deschênes / Duchêne?, by Suzanne Boivin Sommerville. This article was published in MHH in October 2011.
Museum of Ojibwa Culture, St. Ignace: http://museumofojibwaculture.net/index.html