THE ISLAND OF MACKINAC.
Chicago, December, 1877. I HAVE thought that it might be of some interest to some of your readers to know something of an island which is redolent with historical associations, in "a country without a history ;" which is beautiful, which is popular, and yet whose inhabitants retain the characteristics we might expect to find among the most benighted of Canadians, or among innocent Pennsylvanians who still vote for Andrew Jackson. I refer to Mackinac. Moreover, the greater part of Mackinac, on account of its peculiar history and beauty, has, like the Yosemite Valley and the Yellowstone Carlon, been reserved for all time as a Government park. The history of the island is Indian, French, English, and American. There at one time the ubiquitous Jesuit laboured, and at another the American Fur Company (Astor's) traded. Mackinac is in the famous Straits of Mackinac, which join Lakes Michigan and Huron. With the breaking of the ice in these straits in the spring, navigation opens on the lakes. The island is three and a quarter miles long and two miles wide. It is the most famous island in the archipelago of the straits. Unlike the other islands, it rises high above the waters of Lake Huron, three hundred feet. In Lake Superior and the straits the water is singularly clear and cold. Floating in this crystal water lies Mackinac—" the Great Turtle"—as the Indians called it. As we approach it in the steamer, we see a picturesque village, with white houses, hanging from the cliff down to the water's edge. Mackinac boats, famous over all the upper lakes for their fault- less lines, are moored by the little harbour. Over all, perched on the crest of the cliff, is the fort, with its quaint, old-fashioned round-houses and the old wall. Two or three coquettish cannon look defiantly over the walls of the fort and over the sleepy town. The walls of the fort were built by the British, and so were the round-houses. In these days, the fort is very far from being a Gibraltar.
Landing, we see the white natives sitting about in an easy and eminently un-American fashion. Mackinac has become a fashion- able resort, and yet the nearest telegraph-wire is eight miles away ; it is an American town of 1,000 inhabitants, and stranger still, it has no newspaper. Indians and half-breeds stroll about the town. They are all Chippewa& They come over to the island in boats, bringing for sale fruits, mats, and toys, cunningly and prettily worked. They are; like most Indians, rather drunken. Up in Canada they are better. In fact, the red man of Canada is socially and politically more of a success than his brother of the States.
Mackinac is a great resort for hay-fever patients. As soon as the fatal day in August arrives, victims of hay-fever rush to Mackinac with the same regularity that sportsmen rush to the moors on the 12th. Once at Mackinac, the distemper dis- appears, and the patient stays in rural quarantine till the first frost strikes the place from which he came. Mackinac is delightfully cool and wonderfully salubrious. Typhoid fevers and sewerage systems are absolutely unknown The island is thickly wooded, one-half being covered with cedars, the other with evergreens. Good drives intersect the island. There are several caves, and natural phenomena in the shape of conical and arched rocks, towering up in some level spaces above the trees. From the site of Fort Holmes (once, in British days, Fort George) the view is magnificent. You look down on a mass of vegeta- tion of the richest colouring, with here and there a stray maple clothing itself in crimson, for it is the fall ; the water around is wonderfully clear, and in the distance dark, pine-covered islands break the sky-line.
From the rush and turmoil of American city life, how sweet and grateful is.the restful repose that the jaded and weary get at Mackinac ! On the grass before the Mission House (the old hotel), the overworked man from the city can lie and watch the clear water, with a sail now and again dotting it, and rest his eye on the neighbouring islands, and can feel the cool breeze playing
on his face, and can be supremely lazy and indolently happy. 'Telegrams cannot reach him, and mails are as unfrequent as -they are irregular, and the only thing he permits to disturb his equanimity is the excitement of a coming steamer.
Mackinac was to the Indians the most sacred of islands. It was there that Michabou—" God of the Waters "—dwelt when he 'formed Lake Superior. On the mainland opposite the Indians met in the Pontiac Confederacy. Pontiac was the Nana Sahib, or rather the Wallace, of the red men of that day. In 1620 Mackinac was visited by the French. It was visited by Marquette in 1670, and later by La Salle, on his way to the Mississippi. When the garrison at Old Mackinac, on the south mainland, was mas- sacred, the English garrisoned the island. In 1783 it was ceded by treaty to America. In 1812 the English surprised the Americans, and recaptured the island. In 1814 it was again by treaty ceded to America.
If the visitor leaving Mackinac desires to continue a little longer amid beautiful scenes, let him leave by the Saint Mary River,—the outlet from Superior. There are so many islands on -this river, that it looks as if, in the morning of this epoch, some 'Titan had sowed them with a generous hand over this beautiful stream. At the end of the river is the Sault Ste. Marie, an old Jesuit settlement. Passing the rapids, you enter Lake Superior, the Gitchee Gamee,—" the Great Sea " of the Indians.