Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Where's the Monument at Grand Portage National Monument?
A. This Monument at 710 acres is smaller than a national park but was established by congress in 1958 to preserve and interpret fur trade and Ojibwe history and culture. National monuments are "little gems" within the National Park Service which tell stories no less inspiring than the nation's Washington Monument.
Q. What Happened to the North West Company?
A. The fur trade hit "hard times" due to changes in fashion and the depletion of fur bearing animals. The two "great" fur companies, the Hudson's Bay and the Northwest Companies merged in 1821. This "giant" company, still in existence, continued with the Hudson's Bay Company name.
Q. Why this location for the North West Company depot?
A. With waterfalls blocking the Lake Superior to Pigeon River route, the North West Company used the Grand Portage footpath to reach the navigable parts of the Pigeon River. From this vital location on Lake Superior a canoe can reach the Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and the Gulf of Mexico with no portage longer than 12 miles!
Q. Why are there "Hudson's Bay" blankets in the North West Company trade store?
A. Prior to the Hudson's Bay Company trading these, early French traders, then "Peddlers from Montreal," including the North West Company, traded the kersey woven pointed blankets.
Q. Where did the voyageurs come from?
A. Most of the voyageurs were of French-Canadian backgrounds. A high percentage of these men came from small parishes outside of Montreal and were tied to the local agricultural communities.
Q. What is the caliber of the "average" Northwest trade gun shipped to Grand Portage?
A. The "average" Northwest trade gun was .58 caliber and a smoothbore.
Q. How did the Great Lakes Indian peoples stay warm in their bark homes?
Q. Are the buildings original?
A. The four buildings and stockade fence were reconstructed in the 1970's by Ojibwe carpenters of Grand Portage over foundation evidence uncovered by archeological excavations from 1936 to the present.
Q. How do I get to Isle Royale National Park?
A .The passenger ferry Voyageur II leaves Grand Portage every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday during the summer from Voyageurs Marina, located around Grand Portage Bay on Hat Point. After spending the night at Rock Harbor, the ferry returns to Grand Portage the following day. Every Friday, the Voyageur II travels to Windigo and back the same day.
Q. Where can I see a moose?
A. Go to wet places early in the morning or evenings, stay quiet, and you may have the rare pleasure of seeing moose in their home.
Q. What is that island in the middle of Grand Portage Bay?
A. During the time of the French and English traders, it was called Isle au Mouton (sheep island); before roads came to Grand Portage it was Pete's Island, named for commercial fisherman Pete Gagnon; today, it is simply known as Grand Portage Island. The island helps block damaging waves from coming into Grand Portage Bay, helping make it one of the best natural bays on Lake Superior.
Did You Know?
The Grand Portage Ojibwe are renowned for beautifully made birchbark items, floral beadwork and cedar strip mats.