Métis Women of Mackinac

Métis Women of Mackinac

Métis culture held a unique place of being part of two cultures, French and American Indian, that became a unique culture itself. This culture came about from the French men of the fur trade coming into the Great Lakes territories, populated by local tribes throughout the region. Families and bonds were made with this interaction.

Jane Johnston Schoolcraft

Jane Johnston Schoolcraft

By the 1820s and 30s, the fur trade was at its height on Mackinac Island. John Jacob Astor’s American Fur Company had its headquarters on Market Street. While it held a virtual monopoly on the fur trade, small independent traders held their own and had many successes. The métis culture held one foot in the European American world and one foot in the American Indian world, becoming an integral part of the fur trade as part of the middle ground to interact between these other two cultures.

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Cheers to Fort Mackinac

Cheers to Fort Mackinac

 

Capt. Greenleaf Goodale served as Fort Mackinac’s commander between 1886 and 1890. He supervised many improvements in the National Park.The army undertook projects designed to improve soldiers’ morale and provide recreational opportunities. These projects were part of a broader attempt to improve army life for enlisted men beginning in the 1880s. Known as the Army Reform Movement, these measures instituted better training procedures, improved uniforms and living conditions and provided recreational opportunities.

The War Department officially approved the construction and use of canteens for the entertainment, recreation, and amusement of enlisted men at military posts in 1889. Captain Greenleaf A. Goodale, the commanding officer Fort Mackinac quickly took advantage of the new policy and remodeled the wood quarters into the post canteen at a cost of $82.53. Opened on November 7, 1889, the canteen provided the men with two billiard rooms and a bar and a lunch counter. The rooms were furnished with books, magazines and board games including backgammon, checkers, dominoes and chess. The walls were decorated with large, framed pictures including seven large Civil War battle scened donated by West Bluff summer cottager Henry Leman. In the lunch room soldiers enjoyed ham and cheese sandwiches with imported Swiss cheese and French mustard, light wines and beer, including Schlitz of Milwaukee which was sold for “Five-cents per glass – large size.” Beer was the main source of profit while coffee was discontinued after three weeks for lack of interested. The canteen was immensely popular with the solders and enthusiastically supported by the officers who noticed an immediate improvement in moral and behavior.

 

Furnishing the Commanding Officer’s House

Furnishing the Commanding Officer’s House

Although winter is still holding on at the Straits of Mackinac, work continues to prepare the Commanding Officer’s House for opening later this summer at Colonial Michilimackinac. Since our last update in early January, major construction has wrapped up inside the house. Masons are currently applying several coats of plaster to the interior walls, and our staff carpenters are busy restoring the windows removed from the house. They’ve also constructed several new doors, and will soon begin building new windows to compliment the ones they’ve already restored. (more…)

Lost Hotels of Mackinac Island: The Windsor

A view of Hoban St. in 1919 with the Windsor in the distance showing the fourth floor and side addition added by Belle Gallagher by 1910.

A view of Hoban St. in 1919 with the Windsor in the distance showing the fourth floor and side addition added by Belle Gallagher by 1910.

The four-story, jade-colored building at the corner of Market and Hoban Streets has served as employee housing for Grand Hotel since the early 1980s. However, as the name board still declares, it was prior to this the Windsor Hotel. (more…)

2015 Collections Acquisitions

2015 Collections Acquisitions

The year 2015 was a busy one for collections as the Mackinac Island State Park Commission accessioned 140 gifts and 150 purchases to the historic object and archival collections. Many of the objects acquired this year were images of Mackinac Island, Mackinaw City and the surrounding area. These include photo album pages with images from visitor’s trips, stereo views that were a popular souvenir in the late 1800’s, postcards and press photographs. The park purchased a rare bill for fish from 1853 and a medal commemorating one of Fort Mackinac’s commanders. (more…)

Fort Mackinac and the Mackinac National Park

Lt. Calvin Cowles, along with Lt. Benjamin Morse, surveyed the National Park in 1885.

Lt. Calvin Cowles, along with Lt. Benjamin Morse, surveyed the National Park in 1885.

This year, the National Park Service celebrates its 100th anniversary. By 1916, the Mackinac National Park had already passed into and out of existence, its fate linked to the fortunes of Fort Mackinac.

After Congress created Yellowstone in 1872, Senator Thomas Ferry introduced legislation to create a second park on Mackinac Island. In addition to the island’s attractive history and natural features, the U.S. government already owned much of the island as part of the Fort Mackinac military reservation and the soldiers stationed at Fort Mackinac could act as caretakers. As a result, the park would cost almost nothing, which Ferry knew appealed to the tight-fisted Congressmen of the 1870s. After two years of campaigning, President Ulysses Grant created the Mackinac National Park, the second park in the country, on March 3, 1875. (more…)

Snowshoeing at the Straits of Mackinac

Snowshoeing at the Straits of Mackinac

Snowshoeing is a popular winter pastime in northern Michigan, but it’s not a new activity. People at the Straits of Mackinac needed snowshoes to go about their daily lives 250 years ago. Take a look at this brief video in which Museum Historian Craig Wilson describes the nature and the need of snowshoeing through the centuries.

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Lost Hotels of Mackinac: The Palmer House

Lost Hotels of Mackinac: The Palmer House

The Palmer House, Ca. 1880

The Palmer House, Ca. 1880

Mackinac Island features many historic hotels that have welcomed visitors for generations. There were other early hotels that, for a variety of reason, have closed their doors. Some of these buildings remain standing but are used for different purposes. Others have disappeared completely. In this and future posts we will explore some of these lost hotels of Mackinac Island. (more…)

A New Exhibit at Michilimackinac: The Commanding Officer’s House

Ever wonder what happens during the winter time at Mackinac State Historic Parks? Although our museums are closed for the winter, there’s still a lot of work going on to prepare for 2016. One of our major projects this winter is the renovation and reinterpretation of the Commanding Officer’s House at Michilimackinac, which will look completely different when visitors arrive next summer. (more…)