Barbeau, Peter

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Peter B. Barbeau was a prominent merchant and community leader in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, during the nineteenth century. He was born June 29, 1800, in LaPrairie, Quebec, and died in the Sault on October 17, 1882.

Barbeau reputedly arrived in the Sault in 1817. He was initially employed by the Hudson's Bay Company, but eventually entered the service of John Jacob Astor's American Fur Company. After a tenure of company service in Baraboo, Wisconsin, he re-settled in Sault Ste. Marie in 1834. In the same year he was naturalized as a U.S. citizen at Mackinac, and indentured as a clerk under Gabriel Franchere (factor of the American Fur Company).

Barbeau continued in the employ of this company until 1842, when, after being refused an increase in salary, he resigned his position to embark upon his own commercial endeavors. He eventually opened a general store and trading post in Sault Ste. Marie and organized an extensive fishery on Lake Superior.

Archange LaLonde of the Sault and Barbeau were married around 1831. Two of three daughters survived to marry prominent area merchants. Henrietta married Myron W. Scranton, who purchased Barbeau's store in 1864. Flavia married James Pendill of Marquette, who had established a major sawmill west of the Sault as early as 1834.

In addition to Barbeau's commercial interests, he maintained an active career in civic affairs. He became a county commissioner in 1838. He was elected to the state legislature in 1842, and Register of Deeds in 1845. The following year he secured a county judgeship. In 1849 and again in 1879 he was elected village president of Sault Ste. Marie.

Barbeau was an early and effective advocate of the first shipping lock at Sault Ste. Marie, and when the second lock was opened in 1872, he presided over the dedication ceremonies.

During his years of residency in the Upper Peninsula, Barbeau acquired extensive holdings of property in the area. A log house at the corner of Barbeau Lane and Water Street served as the first Barbeau home and remained in the family until 1895. He purchased and resided in the former Indian Agency house, previously the residence of Henry Schoolcraft. He owned and took possession of Chippewa Street, which was later changed to Barbeau. The settlement of Barbeau, its post office and Barbeau Point were named after him. Bass Lodge, built on Neebish Island ca. 1850, remained in the family until 1873. He also operated trading posts at Grand Marais and LaPointe on Lake Superior.

From the guide to the Peter Barbeau papers, 1789-1909, (Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Barbeau, Peter. Papers [microform], 1789-1909. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
creatorOf Peter Barbeau papers, 1789-1909 Bentley Historica Library University of Michigan
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith American Fur Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Baraga, Frederic, 1797-1868. person
associatedWith Burt, Hiram Austin, b. 1839. person
associatedWith Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Haring, Samuel K. person
associatedWith Haring, Samuel K. person
associatedWith Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865 person
associatedWith Mack, Stephen, 1762-1826. person
associatedWith McKnight, Thomas. person
associatedWith McKnight, Thomas. person
associatedWith McMath, John Watson, b. 1824. person
associatedWith Michilimackinac Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Moore, William P., 1787-1850. person
associatedWith Pendill, James, 1812-1885. person
associatedWith Republican Party (Mich.) corporateBody
associatedWith Scranton, Myron W. person
associatedWith Scranton, Myron W. person
associatedWith Scranton, William Warren, 1917- person
associatedWith Trowbridge, L. S. (Luther Stephen), 1836-1912. person
associatedWith United States. Bureau of Customs. corporateBody
associatedWith Wendell, Jacob A. T., 1826-1879. person
associatedWith Whig Party (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith White, Peter Quintard, 1830-1908. person
associatedWith Whiting, Justin Rice, 1847-1903. person
associatedWith Whittemore, Gideon Olin, 1800-1863. person
associatedWith Woodbridge, William, 1780-1861. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Great Lakes (North America)
Marquette (Mich.)
Mackinac Island (Mich.)
Sault Sainte Marie (Mich.)
Sault Sainte Marie (Mich.)
Sault Sainte Marie Canal (Mich.)
Upper Peninsula (Mich.)
Chippewa County (Mich.)
Sault Sainte Marie Canal (Mich.)
United States
Michilimackinac (Mich.)
Lumbering--Michigan--Upper Peninsula
Business records
Indians of North America--Michigan
Mines and Mineral Resources
Indians of North America
Customs administration
Mines and mineral resources--Michigan--Upper Peninsula
Fur trade
Shipping--Great Lakes (North America)
Logging--Michigan--Upper Peninsula
Fur trade--Michigan--Upper Peninsula
Fishing--Michigan--Upper Peninsula


Active 1789

Active 1909





Ark ID: w6ht3s0d

SNAC ID: 61761684