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Situated in the southeastern Upper Peninsula, Saint Ignace is at the northern terminus of the Mackinac Bridge, which connects the Upper with the Lower Peninsula via I-75.

Located along Lake Huron, on the northern side of the Straits of Mackinac, which connects Lake Michigan with Lake Huron, Saint Ignace is the gateway to the UP for travelers coming from the LP, the county seat of Mackinac County, and the city has one of two ports providing ferry service to Mackinac Island. Both Shepler's Ferry and Star Line Ferry operate out of the city.

The Mackinac Bands of Chippewa and Ottawa Indians are headquartered at St. Ignace, and the city has a large population of Native Americans.

I-75 passes through the city, continuing north to Sault Ste. Marie and Canada, and south to Mackinaw City and on through the Lower Peninsula. BL I-75 follows the route of Old US-2, while US-2 ends at its intersection with I-75 in St. Ignace. Westbound, US-2 is a scenic route along Lake Michigan, toward Manistique and Escanaba. H-63 (Mackinac Trail) is a north-south route that follows the former route of US-2, just north of St. Ignace, to Sault Ste. Marie.

Cities and villages within sixty miles of St. Ignace include Mackinaw City, Cheboygan, Pellston, Alanson, Mackinac Island, Harbor Springs, Petoskey, Wolverine, Onaway, Sault Ste. Marie, and Detour. The unincorporated communities of Evergreen Shores and Gros Cap are within ten miles of St. Ignace.

First appearing on a census roll in 1880 with a population of 934, St. Ignace has maintained a fairly steady population since 1890, when its population had increased to 2,704. With the decline of the lumber industry, its population declined to 1,852 in 1920, but it began growing steadily again until 1960 when it had reached its peak population of 3,334. Although it has experienced slight declines, it had a population of 2,306 at the time of the 2020 census.

Founded by Father Marquette in 1671, Saint Ignace is the second-oldest settlement founded by Europeans in Michigan, with Sault Ste. Marie being the oldest.

Prior to the coming of the Europeans, the earliest known inhabitants of the area were the Wendat, whom the French called the Huron. By the early 1700s, the Ojibwa were prominent, although the Ottawa and the Potawatomi were also locally known.

Joining Lakes Michigan and Huron, the Straits of Mackinac generated a great deal of water traffic, including Jesuit priests. Saint Ignace was named for Saint Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). Although most of the Jesuit priests who came through the area are unknown, Fathers Marquette, Charlevoix, and Allouez are remembered for the roles they played, and Father Jacques Marquette was buried in St. Ignace after his death in 1675.

Fort de Buade was founded by Louis de La Porte, Sieur de Louvigny, as a French fur trading post in 1681. Later headed by Antoine Cadillac, it was closed by the French in 1697, and the Jesuits abandoned their mission in 1705.

The settlement had declined by the early 1800s, largely because the United States prohibited British-Canadian traders from operating across the border after the War of 1812.

Francis LaPointe owned and occupied a large portion of land in St. Ignace before 1812. He sold his land to the Dousman family who, in 1857, sold it to David, Patrick, and Michael Murray.

A post office was established on November 3, 1874, with Peter W. Hombach as postmaster. In 1882, the Detroit, Mackinac, and Marquette Railroad connected the Straits of Mackinac to Lower Peninsula markets in Detroit, allowing both farmers and lumbermen to get products to market. That same year, Saint Ignace was incorporated as a village, and it became a city in 1883.

In the late 1800s, Saint Ignace embraced an economy based on tourism, as it became a popular summer resort, as well as a connection to Mackinac Island. Today, its economy remains based on heritage tourism. Still popular with summer tourists, a variety of water sports and other activities are available.

The Kewadin Casino of St. Ignace is a significant tourist attraction and local employer. Other local attractions include Straits State Park, at the southern end of the city, and Wawatam Lighthouse, in the harbor. St. Anthony's Rock, a geological limestone stack, is in the center of town, and Castle Rock is a few miles north.

This portion of our guide is focused on the City of Saint Ignace, Michigan. Online resources for the municipality, the county, and other governmental bodies within the city are appropriate for this category, along with local businesses, industries, schools, places of worship, organizations, attractions, events, entertainment venues, and recreational opportunities.


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