This assumption of power by the French did not produce any marked changes immediately. No large military posts were established, but there were built a number of so-called small posts or trading posts where the Indians brought their furs to barter for fire-water and the trinkets of civilization. Sault Ste. Marie and Mackinac were of this latter class. The Jesuit mission at the Sault was also kept up and in 1679 we find Henry Tonty, and in 1681 La Salle journeying there on business with the priests. But in 1689 the trading house and mission at the Sault were abandoned, and Mackinac became the central point for traders and missionaries. From this date until 1750, Sault Ste. Marie was of little importance, figuring merely as a stopping place for the hunters, white and Indian, on their way to and from Mackinac.
1750 was the date of the famous Repentigny grant, and it was an event which deserves more than passing mention
In 1750 the Governor General of Canada, La Janquiare, granted a Saignory at Sault Ste. Marie of six leagues front by six in depth bordering on the river below the rapids, to two officers of the French army then serving in the French-English war, the Sieur de Bonne and the Chevalier de Repentigny. The title was further confirmed by a regular patent, granted in 1751 by Louis XV, over the signature of that monarch himself.
The Sieur de Bonne was killed at the siege of Quebec in 1760, during the attempt of the French to recapture the city, after its taking by Wolf. The Chevalier de Repintegny remained in Canada until shortly after the treaty of peace in 1763, when he returned to France. He continued serving in the French army, had command at the Isle of Re and at Rochefort, and during the Revolutionary War commanded a French regiment stationed at Guadaloupe in the West Indies. The Chevalier died in Paris in 1766, leaving a son from whom certain French claimants, who in 1851 brought a suit agains the United States, claimed the title by inheritance. The case was decided again the Repentigny heirs.
The grant was expressly on foundal tenure, and was also conditioned upon the future improvement, clearing and cultivation of the land and its continuous occupation by the grantees. De Bonne made no attempt at the performance of the condition. De Repentigny visited the property in the fall of 1750. His first duty was to conciliate with the Indians and he succeeded in completely withdrawing them from any alliance with the English. (Indeed the object of the grant was to thwart the English who were trying to gain favor with the natives). His attempt to fulfill the conditions of this grant was focused mainly to the building of a fort, what may be called the first one at Sault Ste. Marie. He employed his hired men during the whole winter in cutting 1100 pickets of 15 foot for his fort, with the doublings, and the timber necessary for the construction of three houses, one of them 30 feet long by 20 feet wide, and two others 25 feet long and the same width as the first. Before the winter set in he entirely finished the fort with texception of a redoubt of oak, which was to be 12 feet square and reach the same distance above the gate of the fort which was 110 feet square. We shall see later how this fort was burned. A witness in the Sault Seignory Claim trial described how its location looked in 1810 as follows: In answer to the sixth interrogatory says that he has never seen the old fort erected by the French at Sault Ste. Marie, but has seen the place occupied by old Cadotte, which was called the romains of this old fort in 1810. This deponent saw the foundation timbers of a house, and a root house, and a building occupied by one Piquette, which was a part of the old post occupied by old Cadotte. That this old post was a little east of the present fort (Old Fort Brady) and where the stables of the present fort stand, and a portion of this old fort ground is now enclosed by the pickets enclosing the present fort.
The old fort was a little east of the present Fort Brady, and a portion of it within the present enclosure of Fort Brady. "That this old fort, occupied by old Cadotte, was east of the ravine, which is a little west of the present fort; that there was an old portage running from the old fort to the head of the rapids; that is crossed the canal above the lock."
Repentigny left the Sault in 1755 when his fort was taken possession of (perhaps by authority and perhaps not) by John Baptiste Cadotte. Some authorities say that Cadotte was a descendant of a Minsiut Cadeau who came to the Sault in the train of Lusson in 1671. Others say that he came as a clerk to Repentigny in 1750. At all events in 1861 the descendants of Cadotte were still in possession of a part of the site of the fort.
The French and Indian War did not extend to the region of the Great Lakes. However its Indians participated in it. Induced by their predelication for the French people the eastern section of the Ojibway tribe residing at Sault Ste. Marie, Mackinac and the shores of Lake Huron, joined their warriors with the army of the French, and freely rallied to their support at Detroit, Fort DuQuesno, Niagara, Montreal and Quebec. The Ojibways figured in almost every battle which was fought during this bloody war, on the side of the French against the English. A part of the tribe fought the ranks of Montcalm on the plains of Abraham. According to the interpretor John Cadotte, the name by which the Ojibways now know the English, Shaug-un-aush, was derived from the circumstances of their sudden and almost unaccountable appearance, on that memorable morning on the heights of Abraham. It is a little changed from the original word, Saug-ausche-e which signifies "to appear from the clouds".
With the deepest regret and sorrow, the Ojibways, in common with other Algic tribes, at last viewed the final delivery of the Northwestern French forts into the hands of the conquering British. Sault Ste. Marie was given up in the spring of 1761. On May 19, 1762, Alexander Henry, the traveler and trader, reached the Sault and described the fort there as follows: "Here was a stockaded fort, in which, under the French government, there was kept a small garrison commanded by an officer who was called the governor, but was in fact a clerk, who managed the Indian trade here on government account. The houses were four in number; of which the first was the governor's, the second the interpretor's, and the other two--which were the smallest--had been used for barracks. The only family was that of M. Cadotte, the interpretor, who wife was a Chippeway. The fort is seated on a beautiful plain of about two miles in circumference, that is covered with luxuriant grass, and within sight are the rapids in the strait, or river, distant half a mile.
Soon after Henry's arrival a detachment of British troops came from Mackinac
and took possession.