Hunts' Guide to The Upper Peninsula

Ste. Anne's Catholic Church

Ste. Anne's Catholic Church

Seen from one perspective, no other institution is so interconnected with so many parts of Michigan history. The parish's earliest baptismal records go back to 1695. The first parishioners were Hurons encountered by Jesuit Father Jean De Brebeuf. The big Gothic Revival Ste. Anne's in Detroit's Corktown by the Ambassador Bridge began as the very same parish when the French government moved fort and traders to the site where they founded Detroit.

Here on Mackinac, the parish now serves a huge variety of Catholics, from island workers to political luminaries. Michigan's Democratic Senator Phil Hart "the conscience of the Senate," for whom one of the Senate's main office buildings was named) is buried in Ste. Anne's Cemetery near Skull Cave behind the Grand Hotel's front golf course.

After Father Marquette discovered the soil by the mission was only six inches deep, unsuitable for gardening of any kind, his parish moved to St. Ignace. Then in 1700 the parish followed the combined mission, fort, and fur-trading outpost to the new French fort at Detroit as Cadillac founded the city as a potentially profitable real estate development for himself. This same peripatetic parish later moved back to Michilimackinac on the mainland, and then in 1780 to the island. By then the British controlled the fort, but Commander Patrick Sinclair needed the French traders to continue the fur business. He knew the French would follow their church, so he destroyed the old one at Michillimackinac.

The church interior was recently restored to its appearance from the time when wealthy summer residents remodeled it in the late 19th century. A three-generation painting in the apse shows the Blessed Virgin Mary, her mother Ste. Anne (the patron saint of mariners), and the baby Jesus, surrounded by oddly solid-looking clouds. Candles, a favorite custom with traditionalists, can be lit for a suggested donation of $1 and $3, depending on size.

In the lower level, a multi-room museum exhibit, "Images of Faith," tells the parish story, beginning with Jesuit "black robes" who professed poverty, chastity, and obedience as outlined in St. Thomas a Kempis's Imitation of Christ. It shows how Presbyterian and Catholic communities here often clashed over missionary efforts. The parish broadened with the arrival of Irish fishermen in the 1840s. Artifacts include a brandy bottle (a flash point of contention between Jesuits and French officials, who used brandy in trading with native peoples), a reliquary, home altars, medals, and a 1730 Psalter. Wisconsin history buffs will recognize another peripatetic frontier missionary, Father Samuel Mazzuchelli, venturing far from his home turf around Dubuque, Iowa, to evangelize on Mackinac in 1837.

A summer shop sells rosaries and more. Its two most requested items are Fishers of Men: The Jesuit Mission at Mackinac (a $10 book) and a CD of the parish register, popular with genealogists and historians. They can be ordered year-round from the shop section of the parish web site,

The churchyard has benches and picnic tables for visitors. Takeout from Brian's BBQ just west on Main Street at Bogan Lane is a local institution. A monument commemorates parishoner and benefactress Magdelaine La Framboise, the wealthy French and Odawa trader whose home was next door.

As an active parish, Ste. Anne's is a year-round social and social service hub. In summer it's at its most diverse, with Filipino Masses in Spanish and long, musical 10 p.m. services for Jamaicans, who aren't actually Catholic. There is even square dancing here. Friday night brings a free dinner for island workers, served to them by church volunteers, with food contributed by Mackinac restaurants. Local people say the music after dinner is terrific.
Open year-round, with Mass at 11 a.m. Sun. In summer, Masses are weekdays at 11 a.m., Sat. at 5:30 p.m. and Sun. at 9 and 11 a.m. Sunday evensong is at 10 p.m. Wheelchair access: through ground level and elevator.

Return to City of Mackinac Island

Fort Mackinac. Built in 1780 by the British and fortified by 4-foot-thick walls in places, the fort offers cannon firing, fife and drum music, fascinating historical exhibits, and great village views from blockhouses and from a tea room with delicious food ... more

Grand Hotel. Explore a living Victorian resort hotel, from its famous front porch with fine Straits view and its splendid gardens to an exhibit of top American Impressionist paintiings. ... more

Mackinac Island Carriage Tours. Get an island overview without walking, and find out about Mackinac's fascinating horse culture ... more

Island hub by the Arnold Dock/ Main St. between Astor and Fort. The nexus of myriad useful things: an information kiosk, carriage tours, bike rentals, a grocery, a drug store, a visitor center ... more

Market Street, 1820s fur trade center. At the 1820s center of John Jacob Astor's Great Lakes fur trade, see period cooking and spinning in a French-Canadian house; a blacksmith shop; and the reconstructed store where the permanent hole in a voyageur's stomach led to understanding digestion ... more

Mackinac Island shops and amusements. Among downtown's souvenir, gift, and fudge shops are unusual businesses featuring good flying toys, a haunted house, magic and gags, artists creating expressionist landscapes and scrimshaw engravings, art and accessories, and good books. ... more

An eastside walk to Mission Point. A half-mile eastside walk to Mission Point passes lots of history, with stops at two of Michigan's oldest churches at Ste. Anne's and Mission churches and possibly the Mackinac Island Butterfly House. ... more

East Bluff Walk to Robinson's Folly. This blufftop walk past impressive cottages affords a good view of Lake Huron, and a return view down on the village. ... more

Kite flying at 11. Watch a colorful array of kites fly over the harbor, and even learn some tips from experts ... more

Round Island Lighthouse. Ferries to and from Mackinac Island provide memorable views of this 1894 lighthouse ... more

Ste. Anne's Catholic Church. The parish goes back to 1700 and before. Parishoners have included French-Canadian and Native American traders, Irish fishing families, and the late Senator Phil Hart, among others. It has a small museum and charming garden ... more

West shore walk. Views of the Round Island Lighthouse and the gorgeous sunset behind the Mackinac Bridge make this a favoritie evening walk ... more

Governor's Summer Residence. See where governors since Soapy Williams have spent summer vacations, networking as well as relaxing ... more

Somewhere in Time movie locations. Fans of this Christopher Reeve/Jane Seymour cult classic can get a map and visit its filming locations. Hundreds come for October's SIT weekend; thousands are in its fan club. ... more

West Bluff walk to Hubbard's Annex. A stroll past 16 grand and ornate summer "cottages" from the 1880s and 1890s, leads into another cottage area and ends in Lovers' Leap scenic overlook ... more

Mackinac Island Wi-fi Hotspot. Public Library has wi-fi & public computers ($2 for hour). 903 Huron St. Open Tues-Sat 11-5:30 ... more

Our new interactive map to U.P. motels that offer exceptionally low rates. See also our useful detailed maps to U.P. TOWNS. These custom-made maps locate landmarks and attractions.
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