What’s on the Other Side of the Lake? Green Bay!

What’s on the Other Side of the Lake? Green Bay!

A combined British-Native force from Fort Edward Augustus helped diffuse tensions at Michilimackinac following the attack of 1763. Courtesy of British Library

A combined British-Native force from Fort Edward Augustus helped diffuse tensions at Michilimackinac following the attack of 1763. Courtesy of British Library.

You may be aware of Mackinac’s connection to cities like Detroit and Montreal, but many other communities can also trace a historic connection back to the straits. One such city is Green Bay, Wisconsin, which will be celebrating several important milestones in 2017. This year marks the 200th anniversary of Fort Howard, built by American troops, and the 300th anniversary of the colonial French Fort La Baye. Both posts were located in present-day Green Bay and had ties to Mackinac.

By the 1600s both Mackinac and Green Bay were part of French Canada, and both deeply linked to the fur trade. The majority of the fur trade that went west from Michilimackinac headed to Green Bay. Green Bay’s Fox River was a main artery for reaching the Mississippi River and trading grounds in central Wisconsin and Minnesota. As a result of the first Fox War (1712-1716), the French established Fort La Baye to protect this vital trade route. Many of the French soldiers who built and later garrisoned La Baye were sent from Fort Michilimackinac, which was built around 1715.

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Native American Quillworking in the Great Lakes Region

Native American Quillworking in the Great Lakes Region

Huron_moccasins_with_quillwork_and_moose_hair_1780-1830_-_Bata_Shoe_Museum_-_DSC00647 What did the local Native populations do during the long, historic winters in northern Michigan? Winter was a fantastic time for the women and children of Native families to make things. Today, most things we wear have some sort of decoration on them. There were many different ways for Native people to decorate their clothing and accessories, but porcupine quillwork was perhaps the most unique decorative art developed by the Native groups of the Great Lakes region. (more…)

Dressing a Colonial Soldier

Dressing a Colonial Soldier

A lot went into getting dressed as a regimental soldier garrisoned at Fort Michilimackinac, but it was just part of a normal day in the 1770s. Watch as one of our historic interpreters goes through the process of getting dressed piece-by-piece.

Surviving the Canadian Climate: British Winter Uniforms

Surviving the Canadian Climate: British Winter Uniforms

von Germann

Friedrich von Germann sketched this British soldier dressed for the Canadian winter in 1778.

Capot

As depicted in von Germann’s drawing, British soldiers donned blanket coats, wool leggings, and fur-trimmed “Canadian caps” to keep warm in wintertime.

When the men of the 8th Regiment arrived at Michilimackinac in 1774, they, like the rest of the British army posted in Canada, found themselves in a remote wilderness with pleasant, temperate summers and harsh, bitter winters. The Canadian winter climate was significantly cooler than what most soldiers were accustomed to in Britain. Fortunately, several uniform pieces allowed these men to live and even fight in the coldest of Canadian winters.

Leggings

With the lapels buttoned over, collar turned up, and tails let down, a soldier’s regimental coat helped protect him from the cold. Blue wool leggings further protected his legs.

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Washerwomen: British Military Laundresses at Michilimackinac

Washerwomen: British Military Laundresses at Michilimackinac

If you have visited Colonial Michilimackinac recently, you may have noticed a few changes, including new exhibits, new gardens, and whole new buildings. A new addition in 2017 will be a weekly laundry demonstration at the Soldier’s House. Although our interpreters won’t be washing your socks, it is still worth a visit to see how the enlisted men’s wives were working in the 1770s. (more…)

2016 Archaeology Season in Review

2016 Archaeology Season in Review

The end of August saw the close of another archaeological field season at Colonial Michilimackinac. This was our ninth season of excavation at House E, one of the units of the Southeast Rowhouse. Historic maps and records indicate that this was the house of Charles Desjardins de Rupallay de Gonneville by 1749 (and probably earlier) through at least 1758. By 1765 it was an English trader’s house. Our excavations indicate that it remained civilian housing throughout the fort’s occupation.

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King’s 8th Returns to Colonial Michilimackinac

King’s 8th Returns to Colonial Michilimackinac

Kings-8th-with-flagThe King is calling you to enlist.

Throughout the weekend of September 9 and 10, 2016, we will recreate the garrison routines of the soldiers at Michilimackinac in the mid-1770s. In addition to drill and musket firing demonstrations, there will be military ration cooking demonstrations, the posting of sentries at the fort’s gates, and daily roll calls.

Interpreters will also be on hand to discuss and demonstrate the role of women attached to the British army as laundresses, seamstresses, gardeners, and cooks. Visitors are invited to drill with the soldiers, help with the laundry, become a member of an artillery crew, and attempt to improve the defenses of Michilimackinac with a “Design a Fort” activity. Special walking tours will focus on Michilimackinac’s armaments and defenses, as well as the community’s role in the American Revolution.

Learn more about Colonial Michilimackinac.

God Save the King!

Brand New Cannon at Colonial Michilimackinac is Shining Example of History and Craft

Brand New Cannon at Colonial Michilimackinac is Shining Example of History and Craft

Come be one of the first to see Michilimackinac’s latest addition in action: a new 6-pound cannon!

IMG_3160 Delivered last week, the cannon is an exact reproduction of a light 6-pound traveling gun. During the 1770s, the British kept two of these bronze guns on Michilimackinac’s parade ground, ready to defend the fort in the event of an American attack. Mounted on a highly mobile carriage with large wheels, these guns could throw a 6 pound cannonball nearly a mile. Although never used in anger, British soldiers fired the guns to celebrate the King’s birthday and other ceremonial events. (more…)