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City (single-tier)
City of Kenora
Nickname(s): K-Town
Kenora is located in Ontario
Country  Canada
Province  Ontario
Incorporated (town) 1882 as Rat Portage
Renamed 1905 as Kenora
Amalgamated (City) 2000[1]
 • Mayor Dave Canfield
 • Governing Body Kenora City Council
 • MP Bob Nault (Kenora, LPC)
 • MPP Sarah Campbell (Kenora—Rainy River, NDP)
 • Land 211.75 km2 (81.76 sq mi)
 • Urban 30.81 km2 (11.90 sq mi)
Elevation[4] 409.70 m (1,344.16 ft)
Population (2011)[2][3]
 • City (single-tier) 15,348
 • Density 72.5/km2 (188/sq mi)
 • Urban 11,306
 • Urban density 367.0/km2 (951/sq mi)
Time zone CST (UTC−6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC−5)
Postal Code FSA P9N, P0X
Area code(s) 807

Kenora, originally named Rat Portage, is a small city situated on the Lake of the Woods in Northwestern Ontario, Canada, close to the Manitoba boundary, and about 200 km (124 mi) east of Winnipeg. It is the seat of Kenora District.

The town of Rat Portage was amalgamated with the towns of Keewatin and Norman in 1905 to form the present-day City of Kenora. The name, "Kenora", was coined by combining the first two letters of Keewatin, Norman and Rat Portage.

Kenora is the administrative headquarters of the Anishinabe of Wauzhushk Onigum, Obashkaandagaang Bay, and Washagamis Bay First Nation band governments.


  • History 1
  • Geography 2
    • Neighbourhoods 2.1
    • Climate 2.2
  • Demographics 3
  • Economy 4
    • Tourism 4.1
  • Arts and culture 5
  • Government 6
  • Infrastructure 7
    • Transportation 7.1
    • Health care 7.2
  • Education 8
  • Media 9
    • Radio 9.1
    • Television 9.2
  • Notable people 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12


Kenora's future site was in the territory of the Ojibway when the first European, Jacques De Noyon, sighted Lake of the Woods in 1688.

Pierre La Vérendrye established a secure French trading post, Fort St. Charles, 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 British 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 ("portage to the country of the muskrat")[5] — the community kept that name until 1905, when it was renamed Kenora.

Ojibwa tipi, Kenora, 1922.

Kenora was once claimed as part of the Province of Manitoba, and there are early references to Rat Portage, Manitoba. There was a long lasting argument between the two provinces known as the Ontario-Manitoba boundary dispute. Each province claimed the town as part of their territory and the dispute lasted from 1870 to 1884. Although Ottawa had ruled the town part of Manitoba in 1881, the issue was finally taken up with the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council which eventually decided in Ontario's favour.[6] Kenora officially became part of the province of Ontario in 1889.[7] Boundaries were drawn up for the provinces and the Northwest Angle on Lake of the Woods which definitively drew the borders 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 24 km (15 mi) of Rat Portage, and the first Canadian ocean-to-ocean train passed through in 1886 on the Canadian Pacific Railway. Among the entrepreneurs attracted to the town was the Hon. JEP Vereker, a retired British army officer and youngest son of the 4th Viscount Gort.[8]

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.

During the Prohibition era in the United States, the Lake of the Woods served as a smuggler's route for the transport of alcohol.

In December 1883, there was a large fire in Rat Portage, rendering 70 of the town's then population of 700 homeless.[9]

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.

Rat Portage is mentioned in Algernon Blackwood's famous 1910 story, "The Wendigo".

Husky the Muskie

In 1967, the year of the Canadian Centennial, Kenora erected a sculpture known as Husky the Muskie. It has become the town's mascot and one of its most recognizable features.[1]

A dramatic 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, shot the robber, causing the explosives to detonate and kill the robber. Most of the windows on the shops on the main street were shattered as a result of the blast. Recently, Kenora Police submitted DNA samples from the robber's remains to a national database to identify him; however, the suspect was never positively identified.

The importance of the logging industry declined in the second part of the 20th century, and the last log boom was towed into Kenora in 1985. The tourist and recreation industries have become more important.

Kenora, Ontario skyline.



In addition to the formerly separate towns of Keewatin and Jaffray Melick, the city also includes the neighbourhoods of Norman, Rabbit Lake, Rideout, Pinecrest, Minto and Lakeside.

Keewatin currently 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 Township of Kenora. Keewatin eventually separated and was founded as a Township in 1908.

The Jaffray Melick neighbourhood currently delineates the north-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. Compared to Keewatin, Norman, and Rat Portage, Jaffray Melick is the most rural community, with few retail stores and one golf course, Beauty Bay, on Black Sturgeon lake.


Kenora has a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfb) with warm summers and cold, dry winters.[10] Its climate is influenced by continental air masses. Winters are cold with a January high of −11 °C (12.2 °F) and a low of −21 °C (−5.8 °F). Temperatures below −20 °C (−4.0 °F) occur on 45 days.[4] The average annual snowfall is 158 centimetres (62 in), which is lower than places to the east as it is influenced by the dry air of continental high pressure zones, resulting in relatively dry winters.[10] Summers are warm with a July high of 24 °C (75.2 °F) and a low of 15 °C (59.0 °F) and temperatures above 30 °C (86.0 °F) occur on 5.3 days.[4] The average annual precipitation is 662 millimetres (26 in), with most of it being concentrated in the summer months with June being the wettest month and February the driest.[4]


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.[11]

Visible minorities and Aboriginal population
Canada 2006 Census Population % of Total Population
Visible minority group
South Asian 20 0.1
Chinese 35 0.2
Black 25 0.2
Filipino 35 0.2
Latin American 0 0
Southeast Asian 0 0
Arab 0 0
West Asian 0 0
Korean 0 0
Japanese 0 0
Mixed visible minority 0 0
Other visible minority 10 0.1
Total visible minority population 135 0.9
Aboriginal group
First Nations 1,155 7.7
Métis 1,170 7.8
Inuit 0 0
Total Aboriginal population 2,365 15.8
European 12,455 83.3
Total population 14,955 100


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.


Kenora, a site of natural attractions, is home to visitors from all over the world year round. In the summer months visitors flock to the area to experience many different activities including swimming, biking, fishing, hiking, and boating. Kenora's tourist industry is also active during the winter months as visitors come not only to observe its natural beauty but also to partake in ice fishing, snowboarding, skiing (both downhill and cross country) and snowmachining.

Kenora currently has two travel information centers. One is the newly renovated (2011) pavilion, located on the Harbourfront (the blue and grey building on Bernier Dr). The second information center, called the Discovery Center, opened July 22, 2011, and serves visitors year-round from its location at 931 Lake View Drive (just off of highway 17 West aka the Trans Canada highway).

Arts and culture

Lakeside Inn

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, and other special events. The Harbourfront is also the docking point for the M/S Kenora, a small cruise ship which offers a guided tour of the lake.

Kenora is home to Huskie the Muskie, a 40 ft. statue of a fighting muskellunge. Huskie the Muskie is situated in McLeod Park at the northernmost tip of Lake of the Woods.

The city's downtown core has a public arts project, with 20 murals depicting the region's history painted on buildings in the business district.

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

Kenora is sometimes stereotyped as an archetypal hoser community, evidenced by the phrase "Kenora dinner jacket"[14] as a nickname for a hoser's flannel shirt.

The City of Kenora is home to the Lake of the Woods Museum, which has won awards from the Ontario Historical Society and the Ontario Museum Association for its exhibits and programming. It was called "one of the coolest little museums in Canada" by the CAA.[15] In June 2011, the Museum was recognized by the Ontario Historical Society for its exhibit, Bakaan nake'ii ngii-izhi-gakinoo'amaagoomin (We Were Taught Differently): The Indian Residential School Experience, based on stories of residential school life told by local residents.[16] Most recently the museum in 2012 the museum was awarded the 2012 Ontario Museum Association Award of Excellence in Special Projects for its work on the IPad based "mobile tour".[17]


Kenora City Hall

Kenora is represented in the House of Commons by Liberal MP Bob Nault, and in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario by MPP Sarah Campbell of the Ontario New Democratic Party.

Kenora has been served by two mayors since the municipal amalgamation in 2000. Dave Canfield served from 2000 until 2006, when he was defeated by Len Compton in the 2006 municipal election; Compton did not run in the subsequent 2010 municipal election, however, and Canfield was re-elected as his successor.[18]

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 Manitoba.



Main Street/Highway 17 in Kenora

Via Rail offers passenger service to Redditt on the CN transcontinental rail line, approximately 30 minutes and 20 km (12 mi) north of Kenora. The CP transcontinental rail line passes directly through town.

Kenora Airport is located 5 nautical miles (9.3 km) east northeast of the city centre.

M.S. Kenora is a cruise located at the waterfront.

Greyhound Lines offers intercity bus services from the Excel Coach Lines terminal.[19]

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.[20]

Health care

Kenora's hospital, Lake of the Woods District Hospital, has three facilities in the city: the hospital itself, Morningstar Rehabilitation Centre, and counselling services, located in St. Joseph's Health Centre. St. Joseph's also hosts the Northwestern Health Unit, which provides care to the community including a sexual health clinic and vaccine administration.

Kenora's hospital provides quality care in the following departments:

  • Diagnostic Imaging: Ultrasound, X-Ray, Mammography etc.
  • Maternity/Obstetrics
  • Physical, Occupational, Speech and Respiratory Therapy
  • Surgical
  • Chronic/Palliative Care
  • Psychiatry
  • Dialysis
  • Chemotherapy/Cancer Care
  • I.C.U.

Also at the hospital are a laboratory, CSR unit, telehealth rooms for telemedicine (the use of cameras and instruments for off-site specialists to consult on a patient case), a hostel, diabetes education, pharmacy, cafeteria dietitian/nutritionist and social services.

LWDH has a staff of approximately 485 full-time, part-time and casual employees, as well as an active board which meets monthly.

The catchment area of LWDH includes Kenora, Sioux Narrows and 10 First Nations communities with 84 beds and an active emergency area.

LWDH is provided with approximately 80% of its operating budget by the Ontario government. No funding is provided for capital equipment. Lake of the Woods District Hospital Foundation (LWDHF) works through the year to raise the funds needed to keep LWDH up to date with their equipment and infrastructure. Approximately $500,000 is transferred to LWDH through their fundraising efforts.

Also raising funds for LWDH is a group of primarily ladies called the Lake of the Woods District Hospital Auxiliary. This group is 100% volunteer and they work together to raise funds for the hospital. Their approximate hospital transfers average at $150,000 per year.


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 four elementary schools (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 three 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 College 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 opportunities in remote locations of Northern Ontario through a network of access centres. Contact North works with 13 colleges and universities.


The major news source in Kenora is the Kenora Daily Miner and News, one of Canada's smallest daily newspapers.



Kenora is Canada's smallest (and North America's second smallest) television market, served by only one television station, CJBN-TV channel 13, a Global owned and operated station that is broadcasting only in analogue. The Kenora region is not designated as a mandatory market for digital television conversion. The Winnipeg outlets of CBC Television (CBWT-DT), Radio-Canada (CBWFT-DT) and CTV (CKY-DT) are piped in via cable.

Notable people


  1. ^ a b City of Kenora - History Milestones and City of Kenora - History and Culture both accessed 9 November 2007
  2. ^ a b "Kenora census profile".  
  3. ^ a b "Kenora (Population Centre) census profile".  
  4. ^ a b c d e "Kenora Airport". Canadian Climate Normals 1981–2010.  
  5. ^ History of Kenora, Ontario, Canada
  6. ^ "Residents of Ontario town want to join Manitoba".  
  7. ^ "Lake of the Woods History". Lake of the Woods Museum. Retrieved 2010-05-28. 
  8. ^ "Kenora was once home to a peer of the realm". Kenora Daily Miner and News. 
  9. ^ "Chronicle of the week". The Week : a Canadian journal of politics, literature, science and arts 1 (4): 62. 27 Dec 1883. Retrieved 23 April 2013. 
  10. ^ a b "Physical Geography of Ontario" (PDF). Retrieved 30 September 2012. 
  11. ^ "Kenora, Ontario - Detailed City Profile". Retrieved 9 September 2009. 
  12. ^ [3], Community Profiles from the 2006 Census, Statistics Canada - Census Subdivision
  13. ^ [4], Aboriginal Peoples - Data table
  14. ^ "True North strong and plaid". Globe & Mail. Retrieved 23 September 2006. 
  15. ^ "Magazine rates Lake of the Woods museum one of Canada’s ‘coolest’". Miner & Newsl. Retrieved 26 January 2011. 
  16. ^ "Residential school exhibit honoured with Ontario Historical Society award". Daily Miner & News. Retrieved 22 June 2011. 
  17. ^ "Mobile Tour wins Kenora museum provincial award". Daily Miner & News. Retrieved 21 June 2013. 
  18. ^ "Former mayor to lead council of veterans, newcomers". Kenora Daily Miner, October 26, 2010.
  19. ^ City of Kenora - Getting Here and Getting Around accessed 9 November 2007
  20. ^ Kenora Transit. Accessed 14 January 2008.
  21. ^
  22. ^

External links

  • City of Kenora
  • LOW District Hospital Foundation
  •  "Kenora". The New Student's Reference Work. 1914. 
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