French Colonial Michigan

​​When France Claimed Michigan

More than three centuries ago Europeans from France came to the Great Lakes region. They made the long trip across the Atlantic for many reasons. Merchants came for fur. Missionaries came to convert Native Americans to Christianity. Soldiers came to forward the French government’s agenda. All three groups of Frenchmen interacted with the Native Americans already living in the region, often hoping to achieve very different ends.
The goal of this exhibit is to show that while times change, the difficulties of life do not. Today many individuals generally simplify life in the past and in particular sometimes believe the French who were here in 1700s lived an almost idyllic life, simply catching beaver for the fur trade. But their life was as complex and complicated as ours is today. The 1700s was a different time, but not a simpler time. The French period in Michigan’s history was a time of complexity and danger. The catalog which accompanies the exhibit, and the many books it suggests for those who would like to read about this era, makes this point clearly.
We invite you to read the catalog reproduced here, and delve more deeply into a time when France claimed Michigan.