Region: St. Ignace & U.S. 2 to Naubinway
|Tucked away from the highway on Arbor Avenue is Frazieer's Fish Shop. They're open when they've caught fish from Lake Michigan to sell.|
Naubinway was once a busy lumbering and fishing village near the mouth of the Millecoquin River. There's more of the actual village than what's seen from the highway. It's south between the highway and Lake Michigan. In the harbor on the eastern end of town, fishing tugs can be seen after they come in for the afternoon, with their distinctive boxed-in silhouette, protected from the elements.
|Fishing tugs leave from a Naubinway tock to net thousands of pounds of whitefish, most of which is shipped to Brooklyn to make gifilte fish popular in the Ashkenazi Jewish community there.|
Naubinway is home to Michigan's biggest fish-packing shed. It's part of KING'S FISHERY, here and in St. Ignace and Moran. The Kings buy fish from fishermen all over, as far as the Keweenaw Peninsula, where their relatives, the Petersons, own and operate a landmark fish shop. The Kings ice and ship whitefish by the semi-load to their biggest customer, Acme Smoked Fish in Brooklyn, New York. It is used in gefilte fish, seasoned fish balls that are a mainstay of Jewish delis. See greatlakeswhitefish.com, put together by Michigan State University Extension, for photos of commercial fishermen, info on whitefish, and unusual recipes.
Naubinway was settled by French-Canadian fishing families. (The name is said to mean "place of echoes.") It boomed in the 1880s. Lumbering and fishing grew together; 1,500 people lived here. Six hundred men worked at a sawmill; 34 fishing tugs employed many others. But by 1898, two years after the mills closed, only six families remained.
|When a boat comes in, theres a flurry of activity.|
However, Naubinway stayed focused on fishing into the 1960s. It survived the lamprey invasion from the late 1940s into the 1950s, which decimated the fish population. In the late 1960s the state of Michigan decided to adopt policies to favor sport fishing in most of its Great Lakes waters, thereby putting many smaller commercial fishermen out of business. (The state figured that sport fishing would create economic benefits larger than those of commercial fishing.) Court decisions have enabled Native American commercial fishermen to continue fishing, since they never gave up their rights to hunt and fish when they ceded or sold their land to the government.
Today Naubinway is the biggest community in Garfield Township, population 1,146. (Engadine is #2.)
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