A Colonial Christmas

Join us at Colonial Michilimackinac for a taste of the holidays in the 18th century. From the first Christmas services in Mackinac recorded by Jesuits to later British and French-Canadian traditions, the Colonial Christmas at Michilimackinac gives visitors the rare chance to step inside the fort during the winter months to experience how people celebrated the holidays over two centuries ago. Festive treats, stories, and music, as well as hot drinks and crackling fires on the hearths, will be scattered around the candle-lit site for you to explore and enjoy. We hope you’ll join us for the Colonial Christmas at Michilimackinac! #thisismackinac

Fort Fright

Lanterns light your way through an 18th-century fort and fur trading village overrun by werewolves, witches, goblins and ghouls. Storytellers weave spooky folktales near bonfires and treats such as hot mulled cider, cookies and candy can be found throughout the site. Most stops are suitable for all ages, but a haunted house, demon walk and werewolf walk will give thrills and chills to adults and children alike. Join us for the Fort Fright Frolic, a special ticketed event at the Commanding Officer’s House.

Tickets will be available online soon. Last admission at 8:30 both nights. 

Fort Fright

Lanterns light your way through an 18th-century fort and fur trading village overrun by werewolves, witches, goblins and ghouls. Storytellers weave spooky folktales near bonfires and treats such as hot mulled cider, cookies and candy can be found throughout the site. Most stops are suitable for all ages, but a haunted house, demon walk and werewolf walk will give thrills and chills to adults and children alike. Join us for the Fort Fright Frolic, a special ticketed event at the Commanding Officer’s House.

Tickets will be available online soon. Last admission at 8:30 both nights. 

Let’s Talk Dirt: The Science of 18th Century Laundry

Clean clothes mattered to people in the 18th century, so much so that some women made a career out of doing other peoples’ laundry. Join us for this exciting program about the soapy, sudsy science that helped people keep their clothes clean at Michilimackinac. Admission by donation. #thisismackinac

Askin’s Men and Women at Michilimackinac, 1778

Askin’s Men and Women at Michilimackinac, 1778, will explore the lives of the men and women, both free and enslaved, who worked for the merchant John Askin at Michilimackinac in the 1770s. Join the staff at Michilimackinac as they demonstrate the various work performed by Askin’s employees, who included sailors, bakers, gardeners, cooks, voyageurs, laundresses, and more. Be sure to explore all around the fort and grounds, as informal demonstrations will be taking place throughout the weekend as well! All events will be included with a regular ticket to Colonial Michilimackinac. #thisismackinac

PROGRAM SCHEDULE

10:00 a.m. – Hands on History: Unpack a Trade Bale Activity
11:00 a.m. – Askin’s Employees Program
12:00 p.m. – Michilimackinac’s Enslaved Community Program
2:00 p.m. – Sailors and Voyageurs Boat Demonstration
4:00 p.m. – Askin’s Employees Program
5:00 p.m. – Hands on History: Unpack a Trade Bale Activity
6:00 p.m. – People of the Fur Trade Program

Askin’s Men and Women at Michilimackinac, 1778

Askin’s Men and Women at Michilimackinac, 1778, will explore the lives of the men and women, both free and enslaved, who worked for the merchant John Askin at Michilimackinac in the 1770s. Join the staff at Michilimackinac as they demonstrate the various work performed by Askin’s employees, who included sailors, bakers, gardeners, cooks, voyageurs, laundresses, and more. Be sure to explore all around the fort and grounds, as informal demonstrations will be taking place throughout the weekend as well! All events will be included with a regular ticket to Colonial Michilimackinac. #thisismackinac

PROGRAM SCHEDULE

10:00 a.m. – Hands on History: Unpack a Trade Bale Activity
11:00 a.m. – Askin’s Employees Program
12:00 p.m. – Michilimackinac’s Enslaved Community Program
2:00 p.m. – Sailors and Voyageurs Boat Demonstration
4:00 p.m. – Askin’s Employees Program
5:00 p.m. – Hands on History: Unpack a Trade Bale Activity
6:00 p.m. – People of the Fur Trade Program

Michilimackinac Unreconstructed

All the of the buildings you see at Michilimackinac today are based on archaeological excavations, but not every structure that has been excavated has been reconstructed. Join Curator of Archaeology Dr. Lynn Evans for an evening tour to learn about these locations and what they tell us about life on the fur trade frontier.

Admission by donation. Entrance is off Straits Avenue. #thisismackinac

Michilimackinac Archaeology 2021 Mid-Season Update

We have reached the halfway point of the 2021 archaeological field season at Michilimackinac and there is progress to report.

Door latch

  The southeast cellar seems to be showing signs of bottoming out. The soil in the southern portion is becoming very sandy with pebbles, like the glacial beach which lies under all of the fort. Some of the wood wall fragments have disappeared. Part of a door latch was found in this area. The northern part of the cellar is becoming somewhat sandier, but the wood planks continue, and it recently yielded a small, plain pewter button and a musket ball.

Pocketknife

  The east wall of the central cellar has become better defined with the burned tops of eight wood posts now exposed. The most interesting artifact of the summer (so far) came from the north edge of this cellar, an intact pocketknife. We hope that future research will help us date it or at least identify it as French or British in order to better understand the construction sequence of the cellars.

  Excavation of 1781 demolition continues further north. We expect to find remnants of the north wall of the house in this area. We have opened the first quad in what we expect to be the final row of squares for this project.

New Quad Opened Up

  The 2021 field season is sponsored by the Mackinac Associates, and we are grateful for their support. Follow MSHP’s social channels and this blog for updates on the rest of the season, or, better yet, come visit the site. We will be excavating every day, weather permitting, through August 21.

Using Cold Frames at Michilimackinac

 Gardeners, especially at the Straits of Mackinac, have always been interested in helping their plants grow despite sometimes problematic environmental conditions. Building walls or planting hedges can protect plants from the wind, which might break fragile stems and leaves, while changing the soil chemistry with manure or compost can make a poor soil rich enough to grow the sweetest melons. But what about the cold? How would gardeners in the 18th century protect tender plants from the snow and frigid temperatures so common in northern Michigan?

 Cold frames may have been the answer. Our gardeners at Colonial Michilimackinac have recently been generously gifted with a very nice cold frame. Built using 18th century specifications, it is essentially a miniature greenhouse. Pots of plants are set inside the frame, or seeds can be planted directly in the soil to get off to a good start in the small, protected environment. The wooden frame is topped with two glass “lights” or windows that can either be kept closed in cold weather to trap heat, vented to release moisture, or completely removed to allow for air flow on sunny and warm days.

 With a bit of work, a cold frame can even be used to generate heat to keep young plants warm and healthy. Historically, frames were placed over brick-lined pits full of animal manure. As the manure decomposed, it released heat, keeping the inside of the frame warm enough to support lettuces, spinach and other cold season vegetables throughout much of the winter, or at least late fall and early spring. Modern gardeners use electric heat mats to produce similar results.

 If you are interested in see our new cold frame and learning more about the gardens and the people that lived at Colonial Michilimackinac visit mackinacparks.com for tickets and more information.