Located on the Straits of Mackinac connecting Lake Huron and Lake Michigan, Fort Michillimackinac started out as a Jesuit mission in 1671, a creation of the explorer, Father Marquette. By 1680, a small settlement of fur traders gathered around this mission... cabins were built... Indians created encampments. The mission was given the name Saint-Ignacius Loyala.
In 1681, Fort Buade (often called Fort Michillimackinac) was built to protect the mission. Soon it became the most important link in the French trading post system in the western Great Lakes during the latter part of the 17th century, serving as a supply depot for traders and a post where furs were bartered. It was also an armed garrison.
After the collapse of the fur market in France and the end of the 17th century, the French Navy Ministry (probably Jules de Clérambault) decided to close all the trading posts in the western Great Lakes region, including Fort Buade over the protestations of the Intendant and Governor of Québec. In 1701, Cadillac under the authority of the Minister closed Fort Buade and brought the garrison's military with him to Fort Pontchartrian (Detroit) which he had recently built.
The Jesuits maintained their mission at St. Ignace until 1706 when they abandoned it.
In 1712, the orders were reversed and Fort Michillimackinac, as it was more commonly known, was reestablished by the French and remained a military presence until the end of the French Regime in Canada.