Rat Portage, Ontario

Up and out of Nipigon around 8:00 am, damn bound and determined to get the hell out of Ontario by nightfall.

After about an hour, we have largely left the Canadian Shield, which somehow refers geologically to the semi-mountains that we just traversed, and entered the Great Plains, that part of the continent that is as flat as a pool table. This should hold until the Rockies appear in Alberta, which the map shows as just the other side of Saskatchewan, which is in turn just beyond Manitoba, which is our target for today.

That, and crossing into the Central Time Zone. Yeah, dumb, but a target is a target.

Anyway we drive and drive and have lunch in Ignace (remarkably good $4 hamburg and macaroni soup) and drive.

It pretty much all looked like this. Without the mountains and the lake shore, well, it approaches boring. Locally, the joke is that you can stand on your hood and watch your dog run away for three days. See picture above for confirmation.

Eventually we had to stop at this sheepskin factory and petting zoo, just to decompress from the 67 mph dash across the landscape.

I found a cowboy hat that both Joe and some random lady felt was totally “me”. Unfortunately, the hat was about $230, which is totally not me. We wandered about while Joe continued his search for a high quality tee shirt with some locally significant inscription in an acceptable color and size for under $10. I was shocked (shocked!) that they had none here. We may have to drive to Bangladesh to get one.

We continue driving down rte. 17, the TCH. Manitoba looms ahead. Just 350 more kms.

But I fear that maybe when we crossed into the Central Time Zone outside Linko, achieving that one goal took just a little bit out of us because when we were finally presented with the tiny city of Kenora, a scant 35 miles from the border, with the shops, the malls, the picturesque location on Lake of the Woods, we faltered.

We initially only stopped to go to Walmart, the traveler’s friend. But the more we looked, the more we felt we had arrived somewhere special. I checked Trip Advisor and the local Super 8 was cheap and relatively highly rated. Many of the local restaurants had cuisine judged “edible”. People seemed nice.

We fought off the urge to stay – it was only 3:30 pm and Manitoba was so close – and we drove off towards our ultimate goal: the border.

Then, like a strong suggestion from the travel gods, we drove right by the decently rated Super 8. This was too much. We pulled in and registered.

Anyhow, Kenora was originally named Rat Portage by the Indians and the name stuck for a hundred years of the English occupation or so. Eventually, someone mentioned that the tourism business isn’t going to take off unless we change the name and Kenora it became.

It is a nice town, if a bit small. The Lake of the Woods allows it to call itself “North America’s Premier Boating Destination”. OK.

There is a floatplane dock offering tours of the lake region.

A nice walk into town from the hotel. About a mile, which probably doubles our total for the week.

A giant fish sculpture. In McLeod Park.


A local attraction is the 22 large murals on the sides of buildings downtown. They were really well done.

The murals are a big hit with the tourists.

Another highlight is the “Geyser”, a fountain just offshore at the lakeside.

We stopped at a nice Italian restaurant on the lakeside and had a nice pizza and a beer. Then we headed back to the motel.

Kenora is a nice little town full of nice people and I would recommend it as a stopping off spot for any passing traveler.

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