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Kenora (2006 population 15,177), originally named Rat Portage, is a small city situated on the Lake of the Woodsmarker in Northwestern Ontario, Canadamarker, close to the Manitobamarker boundary, and about east of Winnipegmarker. It is the seat of Kenora Districtmarker.

The town of Kenora was amalgamated with the towns of Keewatin and Jaffray Melick in 2000 to form the present-day City of Kenora.


Kenora's future site was in the territory of the Ojibway when the first European, Jacques De Noyon, sighted Lake of the Woodsmarker in 1688. Pierre La Vérendrye established a secure Frenchmarker trading post, Fort St. Charlesmarker, to the south of present-day Kenora near the current Canada/U.S. border in 1732, and France maintained the post until 1763 when it lost the territory to the Britishmarker in the Seven Years' War — until then, it was the most northwesterly settlement of New France. In 1836 the Hudson's Bay Company established a post on Old Fort Island, and in 1861, the Company opened a post on the mainland at Kenora's current location.

In 1878, the company surveyed lots for the permanent settlement of Rat Portage — the community kept that name until 1905, when it was renamed to Kenora. The name, "Kenora," was coined by combining the first two letters of Keewatin, Norman (two nearby communities) and Rat Portage.

Kenora was once claimed as part of the Province of Manitoba. There are early references to Rat Portage, Manitoba. Boundaries were drawn up and the Northwest Angle on Lake of the Woods which definitively drew the boundaries between Ontario, Manitoba Canada and Minnesota,U.S.A.

Gold and the railroad were both important in the community's early history: gold was first discovered in the area in 1850, and by 1893, 20 mines were operating within of Rat Portage, and the first Canadian ocean-to-ocean train passed through in 1886 on the Canadian Pacific Railway. Later, a highway was built through Kenora in 1932, becoming part of Canada's first coast-to-coast highway in 1943, and then part of the Trans-Canada Highway, placing the community on both of Canada's major transcontinental transportation routes. The original barrier to the completion of the highway concerned the crossing of the Winnipeg River at two locations. The single span arch bridges are among the longest of their type in North America.

Rat Portage was a small town of ill repute with storied brothels collected along the early Canadian Pacific Rail line. Large tracts of land were allocated to Marathon Realty for the purpose of gathering and controlling lands along the railway for commercial and development purposes. Excavation of garbage dumps adjacent to the brothels revealed opium bottles, champagne bottles and pickle jars. Early suppliers of patent medicines from Johnson's Pharmacy during that era reveal Lydia Pinkam's Vegetable Compount, Kickapoo Indian Oil, Dr. Thomas Electric Oil and many others.During prohibition, the Lake of the Woods served as a route for the transport of Drewery's alcohol.

The logging industry, which was important earlier, declined in the second part of the 20th century as the tourist industry grew, and the last log boom was towed into Kenora in 1985.

A dramatic and daring bank robbery took place in Kenora on May 10, 1973. An unknown man entered the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce heavily armed and wearing a "dead man's switch", a device utilising a clothespin, wires, battery and dynamite, where the user holds the clothespin in the mouth, exerting force on the clothespin. Should the user release the clothespin, two wires attached to both sides of the pin complete an electrical circuit, sending current from the battery, detonating the explosives. After robbing the bank, the robber exited the CIBC, and was preparing to enter a city vehicle driven by undercover police officer Don Milliard. A sniper, Robert Letain, positioned across the street from the bank shot the robber, causing the explosives to detonate and killing the robber. Most of the windows on the shops on the main street were subsequently shattered as a result of the blast. Recently, Kenora Police submitted DNA samples from the robber's remains to identify him however the suspect was never positively identified.
Husky the Muskie
The Stanley Cup was won by the Kenora Thistles hockey team in 1907. The team featured such Hall of Famers as Billy McGimsie, Tommy Phillips, Roxy Beaudro, and Art Ross, for whom the Art Ross Trophy is named. Kenora is the smallest town to have won a major North American sports title.

In 1967, the year of the Canadian Centennial, Kenora erected a sculpture known as Husky the Muskiemarker, which has become the town's effective mascot and one of its most recognizable features.


In addition to the formerly separate towns of Keewatin and Jaffray Melick, the city also includes the named neighbourhoods of Norman, Reddit, Brickyard, Pinecrest, Minto and Lakeside.

Keewatin now forms the western-most section of the city of Kenora. Norman was a small community located half-way between the village of Keewatin and Rat Portage. The Village of Keewatin was founded in 1877 while the Village of Norman was founded in 1892; both communities amalgamated with Rat Portage in 1905 to form the City of Kenora. In 1908, Township of Keewatin was founded, which in 2000 also amalgamated with the City of Kenora.

As of 2000, Jaffray Melick neighbourhood now forms the eastern-most section of the City of Kenora. The Township of Jaffray was founded in 1894 and the Township of Melick in 1902; the two townships were amalgamated in 1908 as Jaffray and Melick, and renamed as Jaffray Melick in 1911.


Forestry, tourism and mining are the three largest sectors of the Kenora economy. The population balloons in the spring and summer to almost double the normal population when summer residents move in. The Lake of the Woods and numerous smaller lakes situated all around Kenora are the major draw for cottagers who summer here. Many are from the neighbouring province of Manitoba and the state of Minnesota.



The city's most prominent cultural venue is the downtown Harbourfront, a park on the shore of Lake of the Woods which hosts the city's annual winter and summer festivals, as well as concert series, a "Bard on the Harbour" reading series of Shakespeare plays and other special events. Harbourfront is also the docking point for the M/S Kenora, a small cruise ship which offers a guided tour of the lake, and the home of Husky the Muskie.

The city's downtown core is home to an arts project which has to date seen 20 murals depicting the region's history planned and painted along buildings in the business district.

The city is also home to a major international bass fishing tournament.

Kenora is unfairly stereotyped as an archetypal hoser community, evidenced by the phrase "Kenora dinner jacket" as a nickname for a hoser's flannel shirt.


Kenora waterfront

VIA Rail offers passenger service to Redditt on the CN transcontinental rail line, approximately 30 minutes and north of Kenora. The CP transcontinental rail line passes directly through town.

Kenora Airportmarker is located east northeast of the city centre.

Greyhound Lines offers intercity bus services from the Excel Coach Lines terminal.

Highway 17 passes through Kenora, and the Highway 17A Kenora By-Pass goes around the city. Both routes are designated as part of the Trans-Canada Highway. Highway 658 extends northerly from Kenora to Redditt.

Kenora Transit operates three routes, from Monday to Saturday, 7:00am to 6:30pm.


Kenora is represented at in the House of Commons by Conservative Member of Parliament Greg Rickford, and in the Ontario Legislative Assembly by MPP Howard Hampton, leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party.

The current mayor of Kenora is Len Compton.

Some residents of Kenora, citing dissatisfaction with the level of government service provided to the region by the provincial government, have proposed that the region secede from Ontario to join the province of Manitobamarker. Former Kenora mayor Dave Canfield, who was defeated by Compton in the 2006 municipal election, was the most notable public figure to have endorsed this proposal.


The Lake of the Woods District Hospital was founded in 1897, and was originally known as the Rat Portage Jubilee Hospital and then the Kenora General Hospital. Through the years a series of additions and renovations took place to meet the expanding needs of the population. On May 1, 1968, the St. Joseph's Hospital and the Kenora General Hospital amalgamated to form the Lake of the Woods District Hospital. Treating well over 30,000 people per year, Lake of the Woods District Hospital is Northwestern Ontario's largest hospital outside of Thunder Bay.

Being funded largely in part by the Lake of the Woods District Hospital Foundation, the hospital's core programs include emergency and ambulatory care, chronic care, mental health, maternal and child health, and acute care services which include general medicine, intensive care and surgical services. It also manages a broad range of services including dialysis, chemotherapy, diagnostic imaging, mammography, ultrasound, addiction counseling and detoxification, a sexual assault centre, physiotherapy and rehabilitation services, ambulance (land and dedicated air), palliative care and various education programs.

The Lake of the Woods District Hospital meets the immediate healthcare needs of residents of the city of Kenora, as well as a large surrounding area, including several First Nations Communities.


Two school boards and a community college function in the Kenora Area.

The Keewatin-Patricia District School Board operates one high school (Beaver Brae Secondary School) and 5 elementary schools (Lakewood School, Keewatin Public School, Evergreen School, King George IV School, and Valleyview School).

The Kenora Catholic District School Board operates one high school (Saint Thomas Aquinas High School) and 3 elementary schools (École Ste. Marguerite-Bourgeois, Pope John Paul II School and St. Louis School). The elementary school, officially named Pope John Paul II, amalgamated approximately 350 students from the former Mount Carmel and Our Lady of the Valley schools. École Ste. Marguerite-Bourgeois is a French immersion school.

Confederation Collegemarker has a Kenora campus and serves post-secondary and adult education needs in the city and surrounding area.

Housed within the college is Contact North, which offers Kenora residents local access to university and college programs not directly offered by the college campus. Contact North is Ontario's most extensive distance education network providing access to education and training opportunties in remote locations of Northern Ontario through a network of access centres. Contact North works with 13 colleges and universities.


Kenora had a population of 15,177 people in 2006, which was a decrease of 4.2% from the 2001 census count. The median household income in 2005 for Kenora was $59,946, which is slightly below the Ontario provincial average of $60,455.


The major news source in Kenora is the Kenora Daily Miner and News, one of Canada's smallest daily newspapers. On the weekends, the Lake of the Woods Enterprise is delivered free to area households. NWO Update, offers regional news coverage.

It is also Canada's smallest (and North America's second smallest) television market, with just a single stationmarker, and two CBC/SRC affiliates.



CBWAT was once a separate CBC Television station from Winnipeg-based CBWT. It would air basic news, weather and sports from Winnipeg followed by a locally produced current affairs programme. This was discontinued when CBWAT became a repeater of CBWT.

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