A rhyolite in the Hemlock Formation, a mostly bimodal submarine volcanic deposit that is laterally correlative with the Negaunee Iron-formation, yields a sensitive high-resolution ion microprobe (SHRIMP) U–Pb zircon age of 1874 ± 9 Ma, but also contains inherited Archean zircons as old as 3.8 Ga. This precise age determination for the classic Paleoproterozoic stratigraphic sequence of northern Michigan, the Marquette Range Supergroup (MRS), necessitates modification of previous depositional and tectonic models. Our new data indicate that the Menominee Group, previously ascribed to continental rifting during early, pre-collision phases of the Penokean orogenic cycle, is coeval with arc-related volcanic rocks now preserved as accreted terranes immediately to the south and is more aptly interpreted as a foredeep deposit. We interpret these to be second-order basins created by oblique subduction of the continental margin rather than basins formed on a rifting margin. Along with a recently reported age for the Gunflint Formation in Ontario of 1878 ± 2 Ma, our data suggest that an extensive foredeep in the western Lake Superior region was the locus of iron-formation deposition during arc accretion from the south. Further, we interpret the lower MRS (Chocolay Group), a glaciogenic and shallow-marine succession that lies atop Archean basement, to be equivalent to the upper part of the Huronian Supergroup of Ontario and to represent the original continental rifting and passive-margin phase of the Penokean cycle. The upper MRS (Baraga Group) represents deeper marine basins, dominated by turbidites and lesser volcanic rocks, resulting from increased subsidence and continued collision. A stitching pluton, which cuts correlatives of the Hemlock Formation in a thrust sheet, yielded a U–Pb zircon age of 1833 ± 6 Ma, consistent with other post-tectonic plutons in Wisconsin and northern Michigan, indicating that Penokean convergence lasted no longer than ∼40 million years.