The Islanders Get Their Home Back 10/31/09

In Amy McVeigh’s book, Mackinac Connection, she quotes Jessie Doud, owner of Jesse’s Chuck Wagon Restaurant until this past year, who was asked about winter on Mackinac Island.  Ms. Doud said, “The words I would use about winter are ‘quiet’ and ‘peaceful’.  We get our home back. I don’t mean that as a slur on the tourists, because come spring we are ready for everyone to come back and for all the activity to begin again.  I guess you’d say I can’t wait for it (the summer season) to end and can’t wait for it to begin.”

Today I want to share with you some pictures I’ve been taking this week as the “town” of Mackinac Island slowly closes its doors to all but the winter residents (around 600) and the few hundred tourists who come over during the winter to snowmobile and cross-country ski. 

Yes, there are a few businesses still open.  The city offices are here and working all year – the island still has to have lights and water and garbage pickup.  The public school is open year-round, as is Doud’s Market and Alford’s Drug Store.  The Village Inn will be open all winter, except for two weeks at the end of November (hunting season!).  The Mustang never closes, nor does Sinclair’s Irish Pub.  St. Anne’s Catholic Church becomes the social hub of the entire community now, regardless of church affiliation.

I noticed, even before the last Grand employee had left the island, businesses had begun maintenance work for next spring.  One of the fudge shops was getting a new tile floor, another was getting new paint.  The islanders stay as busy as possible with outdoor work right up until that first heavy snowfall stops all the activity in its tracks.  Maintenance will continue indoors on some businesses until the cost of heating shuts everything down until spring.


La Galerie's display windows, completely bare. The doors have special slanted mats in front of them to prevent melting snow from getting into the shop.


The sign on Goodfellow's door.


Two empty shops on Main Street.


Shepler's Ferry Dock - no boats, no people.


These workers were carrying the awnings from the Mackinac Island Bike Shop somewhere to put in storage. All the stores with awnings do the same thing. That's easier that having to replace all those awnings that heavy snow would have broken during the winter.


Luggage carts from the ferry docks going to storage.


Decked Out, a very nice clothing store, empty and locked.


Murdick's Fudge, getting a new coat of paint before the snow falls.


The lobby of the Chippewa Hotel.


The Pink Pony - two nights before this photo was taken, it was full of costume-clad goblins.


Sweet Anna. I finally got to photograph her somewhere besides in front of the Grand shoveling up horse poop. She was leaving the island, on her way back to college.


Jill took this shot early one morning this week, before she left. It's boxes and boxes of empty beer bottles, waiting to be picked up for recycling.


Empty Main Street - Wednesday morning.


The other end of Main Street.


A new shop - opening in the spring!

It’s now Friday night – around 10:45 p.m.  Ted and I have just gotten back from our date night.  About an hour before we started to town, the rain started again.  There are no taxis running after five o’clock now unless you have reserved one in advance.  We didn’t.  So we put on all our rain gear and started down the hill.  We laughted as we walked, saying that back home in Georgia, we probably wouldn’t even venture out in our car on a night like tonight – we certainly wouldn’t think of putting on rain gear and walking somewhere.  Yet, here we were, splashing through puddles with rain blowing in our face- and laughing about it!

We ate dinner at the Village Inn, and about 10 minutes before we were leaving, the wind started blowing like crazy.  We walked up the hill with Ted holding on to me so I wouldn’t be blown away.  That stretch of Cadotte behind the school where there are no trees to block the winds off Lake Huron is the worst, but we got home ok.  So the last Friday in the month played itself out as the other Fridays in October did – with crazy weather. 


Downtown tonight - just as we got into town, the rain stopped.



The Village Inn tonight. They have placed a pool table in the middle of the floor where about 10 dinner tables were this summer.


On the way up the hill tonight, we stepped into the little entrance gazebo of the Jockey Club to get a little protection from the wind for a minute. Behind Ted you can see a snow fence. It has been placed all along Cadotte bordering the Grand's property. It will prevent snowmobiles from crossing onto the golf course.

Time to go to bed.  We got a lot of packing done today – tomorrow we clean.  Sunday we leave.  Sometime tomorrow I will sit down and write the last blog of the season.  I can’t believe that day is finally here.  I   just   can’t   believe   it.

NOTE:  “Shannon”, one of this blog’s loyal readers, posted a comment yesterday that many of you asked about privately and publicly.  Some of you requested an address and email for Shannon to send cards or well wishes.  I contacted Shannon by e-mail, and she gave me permission to give out both her home address and email address for anyone wanting to contact her directly.  If you would like that information, please contact me at, and I will be glad to send it to you by return email.  Shannon wanted me to thank all of you who have added her to your prayer list.  She has an amazing story to tell of already answered prayers in her family, and now needs prayers lifted up for her.  Thank you readers, for caring.


18 thoughts on “The Islanders Get Their Home Back 10/31/09

  1. Beautiful goodbye to our happy place. Be super careful on your way home and tell Duck “hi” for me.
    I can’t believe only one more Mi blog this year.

  2. Wow! Things do look closed up and lonely! Does the Library stay open? We have made a little tradition of visiting the island library and reading a story book on the back poarch each vacation. I homeschool Lexy and we dream about how many places we would sit and do school work if we lived on the island! LOL.
    I will be looking forward to my mail from your readers. I hope I will make many new friends.
    Love ya,

    • Yes, Shannon, the library stays open all winter – I should have included that. It has, as you know, a huge fireplace that burns during the day through the winter. I can’t imagine a more magical place to read than the Mackinac Island library – looking out at the Straits while sitting by the fire. Wow!

  3. It’s time to say good-bye to Mackinac Island for this season. Have a safe trip back to GA. I’ll say an extra prayer for your safety. Thanks for sharing your time on this wonderful island.

    • Thank you so much, Charlotte for your well wishes, and for loving the island like you do. Have a great winter, and I hope you stop by and visit the “Lake Blackshear” blog when I get it up and running. God bless.

  4. Looking at the photos reminded me of the first weekend in May when I came with my daughter to bring Alyssa over to start working on the Island..the difference was they were putting all the awnings up instead of taking them down for storage!!:) Have a safe trip home!! Thanks again for keeping us in touch with the Island!!

  5. Thank you , thank you, thank you, for all of your time you spent with us readers this season and all of you pictures and priceless information. May GOD bless you on you journey home!!

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  7. The pic’s of closed businesses reminds me of how often I saw the same type of sign in the Soo.
    It got to be a joke and a friend and I made a “Closed for the season”sign and hung it on the city limits sign. It made the newspaper.
    We made a “Open for the season” sign and hung it at the same spot when spring came.
    There wasn’t much to do in the Soo during the winter of ’70 – ’71.
    Have a safe trip back to “Gods Country”

  8. once again, wonderful photos of the island as it goes into it’s winter rest….especially the shops and streets; it truly IS a bittersweet thing for those of us who have made the island their home for any length of time. more prayers for a safe trip back home to Georgia…..and looking forward to reading/seeing all about THAT homecoming in the weeks to come!

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