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Walking the Old Road

The St. Francis Xavier Church in Chippewa City, photo courtesy of the Cook County Historical Society.

Walking the Old Road: The Story of Chippewa City and the Grand Marais Chippewa is a monthly series told through the words and stories of the people who lived in Chippewa City.  By recording the history of Chippewa City, it's our intent to honor the people who came before by sharing the views, stories and life experiences of those most often marginalized within the context of American history.
The series is produced by Staci Lola Drouillard, a Grand Marais native of Grand Marais Chippewa descent. While attending college in 1987, Staci interviewed Ojibwe artist George Morrison at Grand Portage. It was at this time that Staci first began to unravel the story of Chippewa City and the Grand Marais Chippewa. Staci’s journey resulted in a Master’s thesis titled, “The Village of Chippewa City and the Grand Marais Chippewa: A Study in Place and Identity, 1850-1950.”   
Photos for this series are courtesy of the Cook County Historical Society and portions of some achieved interviews courtesy of the Grand Portage National Monument.

Arts, cultural and history features on WTIP are made possible in part by funding from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. Check out other programs and features funded in part with support from the Heritage Fund.

What's On:
Children at Chippewa City, Courtesy of the Cook County Historical Society

Walking the Old Road: Return Home

ReturnHome-Mixdown.mp39.16 MB

Though the Village of Chippewa City is now gone, the people of the village still consider it to be their home. While many changes to the
landscape have taken place, the cultural identity of place remains strong in the hearts and minds of the Chippewa City people.


Walking the Old Road: The Decline

TheDecline-Mixdown.mp36.42 MB

The final decline of Chippewa City can be attributed to many factors, including the expansion of Highway 61 north to Canada. In this segment, those who remember Chippewa City as a once thriving village, recall its heyday and reflect on the decline.

Kate Frost and family on the porch in Chippewa City (Jim Wipson lower right)/photo courtesy of Jim Wipson

Walking the Old Road: Katie's Point

KatiesPoint_WTOR_20101204.mp36.87 MB

In this segment, the land history of “Katie's Point” along the bay in Chippewa City illustrates how questionable land transactions and county taxation policies significantly contributed to the final decline of the Chippewa City community.

"Trapper's Cabin" c. Cook County Historical Society

Walking the Old Road: Four Seasons of Work

FourSeasonsofWorkFINAL.mp36.41 MB

 In spite of pressure to adapt to mainstream ways of making aliving, the Chippewa City people fiercely retained their traditional ways of hunting, fishing and gathering in order to survive the four seasons on theNorth Shore of Lake Superior. 

Chippewa Church Burial Courtesy of the Cook County Historical Society

Walking the Old Road: Chippewa City Cemetery

Finalcut_WTOR_bjedit.mp36.41 MB

The Chippewa City Cemetery lies one-half mile east of St. Francis XavierCatholic Church.  The cemetery is divided into two sections, the "Old Cemetery" and the "New Cemetery". Though many of the oldest graves areunmarked, the site ties the families of Chippewa City and the Grand Marais Chippewa people to their recent and ancestral past.


Walking the Old Road: Making A Living

Making A Living.mp312.82 MB

Making a living was often a struggle for the people of Chippewa City who retained a close connection to the land yet were forced to assimilate to mainstream ways of making a living. As more tourists began to visit the area, the demand for Indian culture created a niche for people who made hand crafted souvenirs, beadwork and baskets.


Walking the Old Road: Summer at Philamene's

Summer in Grand Portage-Mixdown.mp312.85 MB

When he was a young boy, Francis Drouillard of Grand Marais, spent several summers at a family friend's home in Mineral Center, close to the Canadian Border. Philamene Evans lived alone the rest of the year but needed help in the summers running her household and managing her souvenir stand. Francis tells the story of spending summers at Philamene's where he learned many valuable lessons about traditional hunting and fishing and how to live off the land.

WTIP and Staci Lola Drouillard


Walking the Old Road: Community Divisions

CommunityDivisions-Mixdown.mp310.43 MB

As more and more Europeans moved into the area, the Indian people living at Grand Marais and Chippewa City would begin to experience discrimination from some of their white neighbors. The Native community was often divided between the Indian people living in town and those who lived on the Grand Portage Reservation, 40 miles to the east. Listen to the segment by clicking on the audio attachment. Check out past segments in this series.

WTIP and Staci Lola Drouillard


Walking the Old Road: The Old Road to Grand Marais

TheOldRoadToGrandMarais_20100603.mp39.62 MB

The people of Chippewa City would regularly visit the town of Grand Marais, walking the "Old Road" along the rocky cliffs of Lake Superior. Because many Grand Marais Chippewa people had relatives in Chippewa City, the path was well used to and from town. As the white population grew, the town of Grand Marais became a hub of activity for people from all over Cook County.

Airdate: June 3, 2010

 WTIP and Staci Lola Drouillard


Walking the Old Road: The Early Land History of Chippewa City and Grand Marais

WTOREarly Land History.mp39.62 MB

There is evidence that Chippewa people have lived at the Grand Marais Harbor and the surrounding area since the 1500s. The treaty of 1854, also known as the Treaty of LaPointe, opened up the North Shore to white settlement. As part of the treaty the people living at Grand Marais and Chippewa City were deeded plots of land as part of the annuities package.

Airdate: April 29, 2010
 WTIP and Staci Lola Drouillard