JUMP TO PAGE   100  >  200  >  300  >  400  >  500  >  600

Sault Ste. Marie: 1905

Sault Ste. Marie: 1905

Michigan circa 1905. "Sault Sainte Marie Canal celebration. Reviewing stand and Indian village." Dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Co. View full size.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

Not the Essex

From the comments section above: The vessel in the rear of the photo is not the USS Essex, she is the USS Yantic. We know this for many reasons; what little of the beak head can be seen is the Yantic (vertical slats vs scroll work on the Essex) and Essex wasn't painted white until after 1910. Also, depending on when this photo was taken, USS Michigan became USS Wolverine on 17 June 1905; so, if this photo was taken after that precise date, she is the Wolverine. She is not Gloria - that is a flag flying in front of the vessel and not her name. Her name would be on her stern. Also, parts of the Wolverine have survived in Erie, PA, and the wreck of the Essex does exist in Duluth, MN. See the work of Maritime Heritage Minnesota for more on Essex; we have digitized all her known logbooks and have been monitoring the wreck's condition yearly. USS Essex is the only known example of the work of shipbuilding Donald McKay known to exist anywhere in the world and the wreck of the Essex is on the National Register of HIstoric Places.

The Tepees

The Tepees were part of a "historical" demonstration purportedly showing the descendants of the Ojibwe Indians who lived on the site before being driven off my the white settlers.

A troupe of Indians were brought in by Louis Oliver Armstrong, a Canadian, who was a minister and self-styled "expert" on Native lore and history. He worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway and was a proponent of opening the west to settlement. He was involved in mapping the west and eventually moved into filmmaking, which started with movies in the early 1900s designed to entice European settlement in the Canadian west.

It was L.O. Armstrong who turned the tale of Hiawatha into a play and spread the mythic appeal of the story. This led to the wide fascination with all things "Red Man."

He assembled several troupes of Indian actors - Ojibwe from the Garden River Reserve (which is near Sault Sainte Marie) and Mohawks from Kanewakhe, near Montreal. They put on tableaus, plays and did reenactments based on real historical events. However, because their traditional costumes often didn't register as "authentic" with the public, they were put into more theatrical costumes (buckskin and feather headdresses of the Plains Indians and used tipis instead of the traditional shelters of the area they were supposed to be representing.

In this case, we see Plains Indian tipis, not the wigwams of the Ojibwe (dome-shaped structures made from saplings, bent wood, covered with bark and skins).

The irony is that a good number of the crowd appear to be native, themselves, and are as well dressed as any other European in the crowd. May of them are the descendants of the Indians the troupe are supposedly depicting.


These two vessels are Navy gunships -- the U.S.S. Michigan and Essex. The Michigan, renamed Wolverine in 1905, was launched in 1844 as a sidewheeler. The Essex was launched in 1876 as a full rigged propeller steamer. Neither vessel survives.

Hats! Hats! Hats!

A picture like this makes you wonder how many milliners have fallen by the wayside.


Great picture, thanks! The ships in the foreground look rather older than 1905, but ships on the Great Lakes often live a long time because fresh water doesn't rust them as quickly as seawater. The one on the left is rigged as a schooner, the one on the right as a barque, but they obviously have main propulsion by steam with the size of the rig reduced because in light winds the iron tops'l would be doing the work. Note that sails are not bent except for the schooner's mizzen, but smoke is coming from the schooner's funnel.

Maddeningly, the name of the schooner can be read easily -- but only the first 4 letters, GLOR, the rest obscured by bunting decorations. Perhaps GLORIANA, or GLORY? There was a sailing yacht by the former name in this period but she was totally different, it couldn't be the same one.

Note the huge steering wheel on top of the barque's bridge and what is almost certainly a polished brass binnacle next to it. Among 19th C. sailors it was considered unseamanlike to steer a vessel from an inside station while under sail because the helmsman had to respond promptly to wind changes. There is a glassed in pilothouse on the level below that was doubtless used more often when under steam.

The schooner is a side wheeler -- you can make out part of the paddle box -- but the barque is evidently equipped with the more "modern" propeller.

On the right background there is a handsome steam yacht that looks like it could have been new or very recent in 1905.

The Indian Lodge

It is possible that not every Shorpy reader has had the privilege of camping in a tipi. Since I have done so at Mountain Man rendezvous, I can attest to the superiority of this ingenious abode. The lodges shown in the picture are canvas, which replaced buffalo hide covers once supplies became available in the 1850's. The upper right lodge shows evidence of much use, judging by the well-smoked top. Although it can be a considerable source of amusement to watch several inexperienced men erect a lodge, with experience the poles can be erected, canvas wrapped, and all tied down in no great length of time. Although mountain men of yore spent much of their time sleeping outdoors or under simple shelters, the man with an Indian wife and lodge lived in comparative luxury. Sheltered from wind and rain, gathered around a flickering fire, coffee or food cooking, lounging at ease with possessions hung from the poles at a convenient height, life is good. As they eyes go heavy and sleep is sought in blankets or buffalo robes, the final sight is the night sky as seen through the smokehole with its welter of poles.
As may generally be known, the doorway is traditionally oriented to the east to catch the morning sun, by which we can infer this picture was taken in mid-afternoon, and the two flaps are directed by their poles to point downwind to encourage smoke to leave the lodge, or in the worst weather, to close up the smokehole. The circle of lodges with openings pointed inwards, as seen in movies were a director's artistic pretension. And of course, we now know where the lodgepole pine got its name.

Slice of Americana

What a terrific photograph for studying faces.

Wave to the Canadians across the river

That's Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada in the background. The clock tower of the Post Office (now the Sault Ste. Marie Museum) at Queen and East Streets is visible above the dory on the ship on the left.

First Class Travel

There are some baby carriages to die for on the right.

Ahead of their time

Not only are the three young men walking toward us across the field flaunting flouting convention by going hatless, the lad on the left is clearly talking on a cell phone.

I'll bet

Many a pocket was picked that day. Dense crowds with plenty of teepees to duck behind.

Any Shipshape Shorpsters

...know anything about these ships? It looks like they are powered by steam and sail.


You just never left the house without a topper.

Colorful Celebration

The Semi-Centennial Celebration, held on August 3, 1905, was evidently a very big deal. A commemorative book and history of the St. Mary's Falls Canal was published in Detroit in 1907 by the Semi-Centennial Commission, with this color frontispiece.

The Soo!

Yes that is correct English. You can look it up!

Syndicate content is a vintage photography site featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago. Contact us | Privacy policy | Site © 2023 Shorpy Inc.