The Father Marquette National Memorial was designated by the National Park Service in 1975 and opened to the public in 1976 in Straits State Park. The memorial celebrates the life and legacy of Jacques Marquette, the French Jesuit missionary and explorer who founded Sault Ste. Marie in 1668 and St. Ignace in 1671. A state-run museum opened at the site in 1979, but was destroyed by fire in 2000. In addition to a pavilion, the site includes a 15-station outdoor interpretive trail, powwow grounds, an amphitheater and panoramic views of the Mackinac Bridge.
Today, the memorial and Straits State Park are jointly managed by two divisions of Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR): Parks and Recreation and Michigan History Center.
In 2018, the Straits of Mackinac Heritage Center Collaborative began work to transform the Father Marquette National Memorial site into a place that welcomes, engages and excites visitors with indoor and outdoor experiences that encourage deeper understanding of the St. Ignace region. The new plan will include outdoor space for powwows and other experiences that help visitors understand Anishinaabek culture, both past and present; expanded information on early French life at the Straits at the Father Marquette National Memorial; a central building with space for interpretation, workshops and classes, and conversation; indoor and outdoor interpretative and recreational experiences that address multicultural experiences on topics such as water, diet, and lifeways; and a trail hub connected to the Iron Belle Trail and a dedicated, safe recreational connection across I-75. For more information, visit the Straits of Mackinac Heritage Center Collaborative website.
The Father Marquette National Memorial includes a stone and wooden pavilion.
The floor of the memorial includes a map of Marquette's journeys.
A short walk from the Memorial reveals stunning views of the Mackinac Bridge.