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Detroit Turns 300

see also Windsor Companies Honoured

by Chris Edwards

On July 24, 1701, Antoine Lamothe Cadillac landed on the banks of the Detroit River. Although the great French explorer Champlain led the way into the Great Lakes and first surveyed this region, it is Cadillac who is credited with founding Detroit. He established Fort Ponchartrain on the present site of West Jefferson and Griswold Avenue, and founded St. Anne Church — the second oldest continuous parish in the USA.

This year, there are plans to honour Cadillac’s legacy — the City of Detroit — in a big way."This is going to be the biggest celebration this region has ever seen," guarantees Detroit 300 Executive Director Maud Lyon, "and it will be bi-national.

When Antoine Lamothe Cadillac landed here, the Detroit River was merely a road connecting French settlements, not an international boundary," notes Lyon, who served as director of the Detroit Historical Museum for nine years. "That’s why programs and special events will be going on in the tri-county area as well as Windsor and Essex County."

At the heart of the year’s celebration will be the Detroit 300 Festival, July 19-25, located in downtown Detroit. Among the highlights of this weeklong extravaganza:

  • The spectacular SailDetroit festivities feature vessels participating in the Tall Ships Challenge Great Lakes®, berthed on both the U.S. and Windsor sides of the Detroit River and available for tours, Thursday, July 19, through Saturday, July 21
  • The Sounds of Detroit will share the ships’ spotlight during Festival Weekend and showcase the talents of national artists who began their careers here, as well as up-and-coming artists, as the rhythms, beats, riffs and phrases of many musical genres fill the air
  • Featuring a host of Detroit-born headliners, the unforgettable Detroit 300 Homecoming Concert, is scheduled for Saturday evening, July 21
  • The glorious culmination of SailDetroit, the Parade of Ships on Sunday, July 22, will represent Detroit’s proud Great Lakes maritime heritage — as sailing craft from canoes to freighters join the tall ships and sail down the Detroit River in a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle;
  • A colorful reenactment of Detroit founder Antoine Lamothe Cadillac’s landing on the 300th anniversary will dazzle downtown Detroit on Tuesday, July 24
  • The inspiring interfaith Spiritual Day will bring together all of the region’s faith communities on the eve of the 300th anniversary of the founding of St. Anne Church, Detroit’s oldest house of worship, on Wednesday, July 25.

To learn more about Detroit 300 events and how you can participate, call (313) 871-2475; or visit their website at

Windsor Companies Honoured

Five Windsor companies were among more than 500 businesses honoured at the Detroit 300 Heritage Recognition Breakfast, held at Cobo Center on January 31.

Accepting awards were the Thistle Masonic Lodge, Windsor (founded in 1849); Hiram Walker & Sons Limited, Walkerville (1858); Janisse Brothers Funeral Home, Windsor (1895); G.A. Ingram Co., Windsor (1920); and Giffels Associates Ltd., Windsor (1925).

Companies had to operate in Detroit to receive the awards. "My grandfather and his three brothers opened their business in 1908 on East Jefferson in Detroit," said Paul Janisse, principal of Janisse Brothers Funeral Home, "so we fully appreciate the international flavor of Detroit 300 and are proud to be a part of this celebration."

The names of Heritage awardees are inscribed on the sterling silver Detroit Tricentennial Cup, designed and donated by Tiffany & Co., to be displayed throughout the region this year before being donated to a Detroit cultural institution.

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