A Tour of Colonial Michilimackinac

by | Aug 5, 2017 | History, Travel

Colonial Michilimackinac is the last exit before Mackinaw Bridge and is packed with history and photo opportunities. It was the first stop on our 2017 Michigan Tour of Places we’ve always said we wanted to checkout or did and can’t remember. I think you could safely call it the 2017 Michigan Middle Age Tour. 

Fort Michilimackinac-59

Colonial Michilimackinac

On our way North we practiced saying “Michilimackinac.” A lively discussion to be sure. Does it end with “Nack” or “aw”? Just so everyone is clear, there is no “Nack” in Mackinac. Both Mackinaw and Mackinac are pronounced the same. Google knows everything! I found an article on Visit Michigan Up North and settled the discussion.

The area was named Michilimackinac by the Native Americans and when the French built a fort here in 1715, they recorded the name with a “c” on the end as a French word with an “aw” sound would be pronounced. Many guests to the area mispronounce Mackinac by saying “Mack-i-nack.” The “c” on the end of this word is instead pronounced as “aw.”

Then we cranked up the way back machine to recall if either of us had ever toured the fort. The way back machine is kind-of rusty so neither of us could recall with any certainty. That is the beauty of turning 50. Since you often can’t remember why you’ve open the refrigerator, no one expects you to remember where your parents took you decades ago.

We took the last exit before the Mackinaw Bridge so we could refresh our memories. We were not disappointed. If you’ve got a carload of kids or an interest in Michigan History, stop. The reenactors were excellent and friendly. They were knowledgeable and wanted to answer our questions. Live demonstrations every half hour created an interactive component to the self-guided tour. Plus, the photo opportunities were endless.

Peeping Toms 

As you approach the fort there is a Native American Encampment. I couldn’t resist and stopped for a peek. The nice Ojibwa Indian shared a few details. For instance, these shelters are the equivalent of a modern day camper. The Indians would bring covering and stuff to camp. The previous campers would leave the polls behind. We had a nice chat.

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I was green with garden envy. Every house had its own garden and there was a large garden in the middle of the fort.

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This reenactor, standing behind the soldier’s rowhouse was sharing a bit about the lives of the soldier’s wives. Only 4 wives could live in the fort at one time. They would draw names to determine which wives could travel with their husbands. They earned money sewing and washing. Often they could make more than their husbands. 

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This reenacter gave us a sample of sorrel. The green leaves in the cup on the table. These were surprisingly tasty, like a Granny Smith Apple. 

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Fabrics and Fashions

I was so fascinated by the description of stays, I’m thinking about buying some. 

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Cannon Drill Activity

I was impressed. They made the demonstration interesting and entertaining. 

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Trade Gun Demonstration

Along with the gun demonstration, there was a bit of Native American History. 

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I wanted to ask if he felt a draft, but I didn’t have the hutzipa. This guy was really into his role. The hat is a toque and is reversible! 

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Archaeology Site

The archaeologists to this day are still looking for clues to the past of Michilimackinac. 

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We have more photos in the gallery. Stop by for a peek, or better yet, stop before you cross the bridge the next time. 

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