Fort Colyer, photo submitted c. 1965
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Fort Colyer
West end of Drummond Island (northwest shore of Whitney Bay), Sec. 1, T41N, R4E, De Tour Village vicinity - Chippewa County
Other Names Fort Drummond
Property Type fort
Historic Use DEFENSE
Current Use DOMESTIC
Style Other
Narrative Description The Fort Colyer site contains the remnants of a British military and civilian complex which was occupied from 1815 through 1828. The site is located on Whitney Bay on the southern shore of Drummond Island, Michigan. There are seventy-four structural features within the site including structural platforms, hearth and chimney remains, two intact wells, two submerged wharves, and a village/post cemetery. There are also six subareas within the site. They include: the commissioned officers' quarters and private buildings west of the village of Collier; the village of Collier; Bakehouse Island barracks and stores along Whitney Bay; Surgeon's Island; and the Cemetery.
Statement of Significance The Fort Colyer site has the potential to yield information important to our understanding of history and is associated with events that have made significant contributions to the broad patterns of our history. The cultural context is that of the British-U.S. boundary dispute of the early nineteenth century and the struggle for the Old Northwest Territory. This site was located strategically to control navigation through the Detour Passage in the St. Mary's River, and to maintain contact with Native American groups following the War of 1812. The fort site is the only known British military and civilian complex established in U.S. territory following the War of 1812. On November 14th, 1828, the U.S. took possession of the area. Unlike most military sites, the entire complex has remained intact. Since there is no actual boundary between the military and civilian activity areas, the entire district must be considered as a single site. British military occupations in the Upper Great Lakes such as Fort St. Joseph (1796-1812) and Mackinac Island (1780-96; 1812-15) date from the War of 1812 period and earlier. The U.S. military occupation represented by Mackinac Island, Fort Gratiot, and Fort Brady, have not remained intact as entire complexes. Thus, the Fort Colyer site represents the only post-War of 1812 British military installation in U.S. territory and, the best preserved military complex from the first third of the nineteenth century in the Upper Great Lakes.
Marker Name Fort Drummond
Marker Text FORT DRUMMOND Forced by the Treaty of Ghent to evacuate the fort they had captured on Mackinac Island during the War of 1812, the British selected this island as an alternate military post. The stronghold was close to the traditional Indian gathering point at the Straits of Mackinac in order to sustain English control of the Indians and the Upper Great Lakes fur trade. Built by Colonel Robert McDonall and his men, Fort Drummond and the nearby village at Collier's Harbor were maintained for more than a decade. The British abandoned their stronghold in 1828 six years after Drummond Island was ruled United States territory. Now summer cottages occupy this rocky countryside and only a few ruined chimneys survive as reminders of the conflict between British and American sovereignty in the Old Northwest.
Period of Significance 1600-1825
Significant Date(s) 1815, 1828
Registry Type(s) 08/24/1977 Marker erected
10/01/1969 National Register listed
11/27/1956 State Register listed
Site ID# P22870