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Michigan’s Venice

The Transformation of the St. Clair Maritime Landscape, 1640–2000

Daniel F. Harrison

Great Lakes, Maritime Studies, Archaeology

Available April 2024
ISBN: 9780814349472
Pages: 280 Size: 6 x 9
Illustrations: 29 b&w illus.; 19 maps
Available April 2024
ISBN: 9780814349489

Few maritime landscapes in the Great Lakes remain so deeply and clearly inscribed by successive cultures as the St. Clair system—a river, delta, and lake found between Lake Huron and the Detroit River. The St. Clair River and its environs are an age-old transportation nexus of land and water routes, a strategic point of access to maritime resources, and, in many ways, a natural impediment to the navigation of the Great Lakes. From Indigenous peoples and European colonizers to the modern nations of Canada and the United States, this work traces the region’s transformation through culturally driven practices and artifacts of shipbuilding, navigation, place naming, and mapmaking. In this novel approach to maritime landscape archaeology, author Daniel F. Harrison unifies historiography, linguistics, ethnohistory, geography, and literature through the analysis of primary sources, material culture, and ecological and geographic data in a technique he calls "evidence-based storytelling." Viewed over time, the region forms a microcosm of the interplay of environment, culture, and technology that characterized the gradual shift from nature to an industrial society and a built environment optimized for global waterborne transport.

Daniel F. Harrison, PhD, is a maritime archaeologist, sailor, and diver specializing in the Great Lakes region. Recently retired from a forty-year career as an academic librarian, he has had his research in maritime archaeology published in peer-reviewed journals including Historical Archaeology, Ethnohistory, and Michigan Historical Review. Harrison’s research and theoretical motivations are focused on community-centered preservation and interpretation of maritime heritage and submerged cultural resources.