Letters

Letters 04-14-14

Benishek Inching

Regarding “Benishek No Environmentalist” I agree with Mr. Powell’s letter to the editor/ opinion of Congressman Dan Benishek’s poor environmental record and his penchant for putting corporate interests ahead of his constituents’...

Climate Change Warning

Currently there are three assaults on climate change. The first is on the integrity of the scientists who support human activity in climate change. Second is that humans are not capable of affecting the climate...

Fed Up About Roads

It has gotten to the point where I cringe when I have to drive around this area. There are areas in Traverse City that look like a war zone. When you have to spend more time viewing potholes instead on concentrating on the road, accidents are bound to happen...

Don’t Blame the IRS

I have not heard much about the reason for the IRS getting itself entangled with the scrutiny of certain conservative 501(c) groups (not for profit) seeking tax exemption. Groups seeking tax relief must be organizations that are operated “primarily for the purpose of bringing about civic betterment and social improvements.”


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Visions of Mackinac

Robert Downes - May 19th, 2008
If there’s one book you simply must have on your coffee table this summer, it’s “A Picturesque Situation: Mackinac Before Photography 1615-1860” by Brian Leigh Dunnigan.
The book is a treasure trove of the days when the Straits area served as North America’s ‘wild northwest,’ lifting the reader’s soul with visions of our colorful, rough-and-tumble past. Filled with 330 paintings, drawings, maps and documents, “A Picturesque Situation” tells the story of the Straits area at a time when it was the western terminus to the resources of North America.
Here are tales of fur traders, Indian tribes, explorers, settlers, soldiers and 19th century tourists who were drawn to the Mackinac Straits for its strategic importance. As the perfect rendezvous for the water highway to the West, the Straits provided a gateway to
Lake Michigan and the Mississippi Valley as well as the fur trade far up into northern Canada.
The Straits were one of the first areas settled in Michigan by several Indian tribes as well as white newcomers. Dunnigan tells how the Huron and the Ottawa tribes were driven from their homes in Canada by Iroquois war parties in 1648-49, with the refugees settling in the Straits area.
Their neighbors included French trappers and voyageurs as well as a succession of English and American troops who held (and lost) the fort on Mackinac Island.
Here too is the story of the capture of Fort Michilimackinac by Ojibwa warriors during a lacrosse game in 1763, armed with hatchets concealed under the robes of their women. The Ojibwa were angry that the fort had been surrendered by New France to the British in 1760, with whom they had been at war with for six years.
That story dovetails with the account of adventurer Alexander Henry, a British subject who came to the Straits, disguised as a French voyageur, “his face and hair smeared with dirt and grease to obscure his complexion. Henry was eager to engage in the rich fur trade of the region despite the very real possibility that the Ottawa or Ojibwa would kill him on sight.” Henry was held captive by the Indians following the massacre; his account of his journey with a tribe and life in winter quarters remains one of the most thrilling stories in the annals of Michigan history.
Dunnigan’s book is also filled with the observations of soldiers, artists and dignitaries who passed through the Straits, describing it variously as “a very lonesome place” with “40 houses all very badly built,” but also “a post of great consequence” and “The wildest and tenderest little piece of beauty that I have yet seen on God’s earth.”
Dunnigan is the head of research and publications and curator of maps at the William L. Clements Library at the University of Michigan. He is also the author of “Frontier Metropolis,” a widely hailed book on the founding of Detroit. His work, “A Picturesque Sitation”, combines the best of scholarship and art with the thrill of adventurous tales that are well worth repeating. Sum up his book and the beauty of the Straits with the words of Captain Dave Bates Douglass in 1820: “Nothing could be a finer subject for the pencil.”
 
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