Outside the Walls: The “Subarbs” of Michilimackinac

Outside the Walls: The “Subarbs” of Michilimackinac

In the 18th century, the summer population of Michilimackinac could swell into the thousands as voyageurs, clerks, merchants, and other French-Canadian, British, and Native American participants in the fur trade descended on the post for the annual trading season. Given the relatively small size of the town inside the fort’s walls, where did all of these people live? By the 1760s, a growing collection of homes sprang up east of the fort, creating the suburbs of Michilimackinac.  (more…)

Fort Fright

Fort Fright

The autumn air is crisp and cool as you pass down the trail of lantern lights, the skeleton soldiers are waiting to welcome you to Colonial Michilimackinac. It’s time for Fort Fright.

A Werewolf watches as unsuspecting visitors enter Fort Fright.

This haven for lutins, werewolves and other bad-tempered creatures, the fort provides a fun, fall atmosphere for the entire family with it’s fair-share of scary experiences and historical background. (more…)

Obscure Places on Mackinac Island

Obscure Places on Mackinac Island

Every year, thousands of people come to Mackinac Island and visit such well-known places as Arch Rock, British Landing, Sugar Loaf, and Fort Mackinac. But have you ever visited Desha Mound, Langlade Craig, Echo Grotto, or Raymbault Height? These are just a few of the 212 named “places of interest” on the island listed by the Michigan Historical Commission in a 1916 travel bulletin. (more…)

Captain George Etherington: Michilimackinac’s Unfortunate Commander

Captain George Etherington: Michilimackinac’s Unfortunate Commander

Many visitors to the Straits of Mackinac are aware of the events of June 2, 1763, when a group of 400 Ojibwa men captured the British fort of Michilimackinac through a skillful surprise attack. The Ojibwa attack, which initially took the form of a seemingly-innocent game of baggatiway in honor of King George III’s birthday, ended in just minutes, with 15 soldiers dead and commanding officer Captain George Etherington held prisoner. The loss of Michilimackinac was undoubtedly the low point of Etherington’s life, but this resourceful officer ultimately enjoyed a long career in the British military. (more…)

Mackinac’s Contribution to Fashion? Hats!

Mackinac’s Contribution to Fashion? Hats!

Nearly all European and American men wore felt hats in the 18th century. Hats came in numerous shapes and sizes, as seen in this 1747 engraving by famed illustrator William Hogarth.

Nearly all European and American men wore felt hats in the 18th century. Hats came in numerous shapes and sizes, as seen in this 1747 engraving by famed illustrator William Hogarth.

For over 200 years, Michilimackinac, and later Mackinac Island, were centers of the Great Lakes fur trade. Every summer, merchants based at Michilimackinac or on the island shipped tons of furs to factories on the Atlantic coast or in Europe. Trapped by indigenous people around the Great Lakes, otter, muskrat, mink, rabbit, fox, and especially beaver pelts were highly prized in the garment and fashion industry. These furs were used to trim collars and cuffs, line capes and muffs, and, most importantly, to make felt hats. (more…)

The 10th Regiment at Michilimackinac

The 10th Regiment at Michilimackinac

008 copyToday, visitors to Colonial Michilimackinac will meet interpreters representing members of the 8th, or King’s, Regiment of Foot, which served at the fort from 1774 to 1781. The men of the 8th replaced soldiers from the 10th Regiment, who left their own mark on Michilimackinac during their stay between 1772 and 1774. The 10th Regiment also played a critical role in the American Revolution soon after their departure from the Great Lakes. (more…)

Preserving Island Business History: Arnold Transit Company

Preserving Island Business History: Arnold Transit Company

George T. Arnold

George T. Arnold

For 138 years, the Arnold Transit Line ferried passengers to and from Mackinac Island. The company started out as the Mackinac Lumber Company. Founded by George T. Arnold and two business partners in 1878, it later became the Arnold and Coats Ferry Line. In 1890, Arnold bought out his competitors and incorporated the company. Thus, the Arnold Transit Line was born! Its fleet was a common sight near Mackinac Island into November 2016 when its assets were sold to Star Line Mackinac Island Ferry. (more…)

Historic Solar Events at the Straits: The Parhelion of 1671

Historic Solar Events at the Straits: The Parhelion of 1671

The solar eclipse which will take place on August 21 will be the first total eclipse of the sun visible across the entire United States in nearly 100 years. The path of the totality of the eclipse (the area where the moon will perfectly align with the sun, momentarily but completely blocking the view of the sun from the ground) will pass south of the Straits of Mackinac, but viewers in northern Michigan will still be able to see the moon block about 75% of the sun. (more…)

History of the Fort Mackinac Tea Room

History of the Fort Mackinac Tea Room

Patrons enjoying lunch with a view, ca. 1965. Note the colonial-style uniforms worn by the waitresses.

Patrons enjoying lunch with a view, ca. 1965. Note the colonial-style uniforms worn by the waitresses.

The Tea Room has been a memorable part of a visit to Fort Mackinac for decades. Located in the historic 1780 Officers’ Stone Quarters it provides a place of refreshment in a quaint atmosphere with the added bonus of the best view of any restaurant on the island.  (more…)