In keeping with its rich history as the third oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the United States, St. Ignace honors and celebrates its heritage. History buffs can visit the many museums and historic sites to learn more about the area’s diverse historical legacy.
Local Museums And Historical Sites
Father Marquette Mission and Museum of Ojibwa Culture
The Father Marquette Mission Park and Museum of Ojibwa Culture depicts the culture and lifestyle at the time of contact– the time when the French explorers and missionaries met the Ojibwa, Huron, Wyandotte and Odawa Indians who had resided in the area from time immemorial. The site is a National Historic Landmark and Michigan Registered Historical Site. The museum is housed in the Mission Chapel while the grounds include Father Marquette’s grave and an authentic Native longhouse where historical re-enactments and demonstrations are staged. The museum store features the area’s largest selection of Native American books and music as well as authentic local Native American arts and crafts.
Fort de Buade
Fort de Buade is the site of one of the premier museums in the Mackinac region. It features an extensive collection of Aboriginal pre-contact era artifacts as well as relics of the French, British and early Colonial America eras. The museum features a large weapons collection.
Father Marquette National Memorial and New France Discovery Center
This interpretive trail, overlooking the Straits of Mackinac and the Mackinac Bridge, showcases the period of European contact with the Native Americans in the Great Lakes region.
Mackinac Bridge View Park
This park is located on the shore of the Straits of Mackinac just west of the Mackinac Bridge Authority toll plaza. The observation center contains displays depicting the story and history of the Bridge while the picnic pavilion offers a spectacular view of the Bridge.
St. Ignace Waterfront Huron Boardwalk
This planked wooden walkway stretches along the St. Ignace waterfront and features illustrative historic markers. The Boardwalk begins at Kiwanis Beach behind the Indian Village and ends at American Legion Memorial Park.
Kiwanis Beach is located at site of the original Native settlement on Moran Bay near downtown St. Ignace. It features a sand beach, a picnic area and a pavilion overlooking the harbor and Mackinac Island.
Wawatam Dock and Lighthouse
The historic railroad terminus at the Straits of Mackinac is now a viewing pier with a working lighthouse. The remnants of the old infrastructures used to raise and lower the train track ramps remain an integral part of this shoreline location. Old rail cars, including an authentic caboose, are adjacent to local businesses.
City Dock # 3
The former car ferry terminal in St. Ignace is now the site of both the United States Coast Guard Station and the Mackinac Island freight dock. A municipal park at the dock features a playground, a viewing pier, a pavilion, a picnic area, and a boat launch.
Michilimackinac Historical Society
The Michilimackinac Historical Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of the natural history of the Mackinac Straits area. The Society gathers oral histories and genealogies, preserves historic landmarks and homes, and operates the Fort de Buade Museum.
The Totem Village is home to an indoor collection of totem poles. There is also a series of lumbering industry exhibits.
Nearby Historic Sites
Fort Mackinac, located on historic Mackinac Island, is one Michigan’s State Historic Parks sites. The fort was constructed by the British in 1740 and served as an imposing sentinel overlooking the Straits of Mackinac for 115 years. Fourteen of the Fort’s original buildings have been maintained within its walls. The buildings feature interactive displays and period furnishings. Visitors are transported back to a time when the Fort was staffed by uniformed soldiers. There are regularly scheduled re-enactments, live programs and rifle and canon demonstrations.
Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum
The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum is the only museum of its kind, dedicated as it is to the perils of maritime transport on the Great Lakes. It is aptly located at Whitefish Point, site of the oldest active lighthouse on Lake Superior. Dramatic shipwreck legends are immortalized in the life-like displays. Artifacts such as the bell from the famous Edmund Fitzgerald and other exhibits tell stories of sailors and ships who braved the waters of Superior and those who were lost to her menacing waves.