The town of Lake Leelanau is located where Lake Leelanau itself narrows. The Native Americans who lived in the area called the lake “lee-lan-au” which means “delight of life.”
French settlers were the first to arrive in the area, coming from Canada, in the mid 1900s. They called the settlement Le Naro. The early white settlers called the lake Carp Lake. In 1854 a dam was built in Leland, which caused the lake to rise 12 feet. In 1855 the Shaub family arrived in the area and began farming and building a vineyard. In 1867 Andre de Beloit, a French fur trader tried drilling for oil and instead hit an artesian spring at the sight of the present day Fountain Point Resort. The spring is still gushing today.
In 1871 the village acquired a post office with the name “Provement.” In 1887 St. Mary of the Assumption, a Catholic school, was built. The two-story wooden building burned down in the 1920s, and a brick building was built where the old wooden building used to stand. Saint Mary of Lake Leelanau Catholic Church and School is still in operation today. In 1924 the post office changed its name from Provement to Lake Leelanau.
Today Lake Leelanau is located in the heart of the Leelanau Peninsula. Located on M-22 between Suttons Bay and Leland it is a great place to stop by for a quick bite to eat, or a look around town. Kejara’s Bridge is a great unique, community based business that has fantastic food for vegetarians, vegans, and carnivores alike. Lake Leelanau is know for its antique shops that are always worth a few minutes spent inside.
Photo credit: The Narrows by John Levanen