Across the Border: Canadians in the Upper Peninsula

Date to be decided.

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The blizzard of 1938 began shortly after the Weather Bureau released its daily forecast predicting rain changing to light snow for the morning of Monday, January 24. By mid-afternoon of that day the light snow had turned into a full-fledged storm.

Three weather systems, each aimed at the Lake Superior basin, came to a halt over the big lake and sat in place for three days burying homes and piling heavy, wet snow into drifts over 25 feet high in Northern Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula, halting all commerce and transportation. It left in its wake a task that took residents, road crews, and 1,000 WPA workers manning shovels, more than two weeks to clear up.

​Making History Matter

Storm of the Century Exhibit opens

January 11, 2019

Located in the Ironwood Memorial Building

Ironwood's Historical Depot Museum is planning to open its new exhibition, Across the Border: Canadians in the Upper Peninsula, at the Ironwood Memorial Building second floor in the Ironwood History Museum Exhibit Hall.

Across the Border focuses primarily on the immigration of Canadians to the Upper Peninsula during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  However, the story begins much farther back than that with the Anishinaabeg people who have lived on both sides of what they view as purely a political border for centuries.  The very nature of this border, which has been seen at times as irrelevant and porous, will be discussed in this exhibition as will the nature of Canadian identity as it relates to the immigration of people to the Upper Peninsula from Québec and Ontario.   

One of the most interesting parts of this exhibition will be the spotlight on specific families who came from Canada to the Upper Peninsula looking at the experiences they had before and after they immigrated to the region. These sections will feature photographs and artifacts related to their families. There will also be a focus on specific communities that had significant settlements of Canadian people. One example would be the Garden Peninsula which was settled by several Canadian families who came to work at the iron works in Fayette and later in the lumber and fishing industry.

This exhibit was first display at the Beaumier Heritage Center on the Northern Michigan University campus. Several NMU faculty, staff and students were involved in helping develop this exhibition. The advisory committee for the exhibition included William Bergman (History), Michael Broadway (Arts and Sciences), Chet Defonso (History), Kenn Pitawanakwat (Center for Native American Studies), Robert Whalen (English) and David Wood (English). In addition, there were four Beaumier Center student employees and interns involved with the exhibition’s creation including; Jaclyn Dessellier, Steven Glover, Adam Papin and Abby Ropp. Lastly, the Beaumier Center thanks Georgia Tillotson (Continuing Education) and Marty Reinhardt (Center for Native American Studies) for sharing their family stories, photos and artifacts for the exhibition.

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