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Mackinaw Island

“All took breakfast at daybreak, and soon were under way.  One hour was allowed at noon for dinner, and at sundown we camped for the night.” 

Making a daily average of 15 miles a day it took the brigade a month to reach the small town of “Little York”, now known as Toronto.  An overland trip with all the boats & gear took them to Lake Simcoe and a portage to the Nottawasaga River which they descended to Lake Huron.  They coasted the shore of Georgian Bay to Mackinac Island.

Late in the afternoon of July 4th, 1818, they landed on Mackinaw Island where they celebrated their young Nation’s independence.

Hubbard described the island populated by the merchants and operators of the American Fur Company:

“three or four companies of United States troops.  The village had a population of about five hundred, mostly of Canadian French and mixed Indian blood…  There were not more than twelve white women on the island, the residue of the female population being either all or part Indian.”  Three thousand traders and equal number of Indians lived on the island during the summer.  “Their wigwams lined the entire beach two or three rows deep and, with the tents of the traders, made the island a scene of life and animation.”  “The force of the Company, when all were assembled on the island, comprised about four hundred clerks and traders, together with some two thousand voyageurs.”

Hubbard learned to grade the furs of the of marten (sable), fox, mink, muskrat, raccoon, lynx, wild cat, wolverine, badger, otter, beaver, bear, deer and other small animals.  He spent two months counting the orders from the various traders.  He was working six days a week from 5am to noon and from 1pm to 7pm.

But life on the island was not all work.  Hubbard wrote: “Dances and parties were given every night by the residents of the island in honor of the traders, and they, in their turn, reciprocated with balls and jollifications…”

Next page: Marquette's Cross