As one of the most historic hotels on Mackinac Island, the Harbour View Inn has a rich and fascinating heritage. Today, our historic Chateau LaFramboise provides honeymooners, tour groups and vacationing families with a memorable hotel experience. But back in 1822, it served as the retirement home for a legend of the American fur trade.
Madame Magdelaine La Framboise defied the odds, overcoming sexism and racism to become one of the most successful traders of her time. Born to a French-Canadian man and his Odawan wife, Magdelaine married fur trader Joseph La Framboise at age 14. The couple ran a successful trading business until 1806, when Joesph was attacked and killed by a native American. Magdelaine was determined to succeed on her own. Despite competing in a cut-throat, male-dominated industry, she managed to expand her existing territory while cementing her reputation as one of the most prominent businesswomen in the region.
After working in this dangerous occupation for 15 years, Magdelaine decided to retire on the stunning shoreline of Mackinac Island in 1822. The manor she built here would later become the Chateau LaFramboise. Within these elegant walls, Magdelaine entertained dignitaries, military officers as well as many of her native American friends and family members. She never forgot her heritage, often wearing her Indian headdress to public events.
Magdelaine was also a philanthropist and her good deeds have had a lasting impact on Mackinac Island. She donated land to the St. Anne Catholic Church when it needed a larger property and she also dedicated herself to educating the island’s children. Magdelaine became ill and died in 1846. She was buried at St. Anne.
Guests can experience what it was like to live in Magdelaine’s time by staying at the Harbour View Inn’s elegant Chateau LaFramboise – one of the finest historic hotels on Mackinac Island and quite possibly in all of Michigan.
In 2020 Harbour View Inn was please to receive news that Harbour View Inn is home to the largest lilac of its kind in Michigan. Ted Reuschel, State Coordinator for the Michigan Big Tree Program, measured the lilac on June 14th, 2020. Mackinac Island lilac expert, Jeff Young, has said this same lilac is beleived to be the oldest on the island as well.