Nestled on the stor of the magnificent Lake of Woods, Kenora has long been a favourite stop for fishing fans taking to the water in search og their next big catch.
But if you think baiting and angling is all this urban centre has to offer, think again. Kenora, Ontario’s westernmost city, is a thriving, dynamic metropolis full of fun, cultural pursuits, outdoorsy activities and culinary gems to suit everyone.
Take the opportunity to learn about First Nations cultures at one of the powwows that take place in Kenora and the surrounding area during the summer. Everyone is welcome to go and witness these traditional gatherings full of singing, dancing, food—and meaning—but there is etiquette to follow, so make sure to pay attention to the guidelines provided by the organizers. Vibrant and colourful,these sacred ceremonies are worth attending.
2. Boat Tours
One of the best ways to take in the beauty that surrounds this city is by boat. If you don’t have your own, it’s easy to hire a guide in Kenora to take you round the more than 14,000 islands in Lake of the Woods. A guide can also offer up the best picnic areas and the prime places for wildlife spotting. If that’s a little too rugged for you, consider a dinner cruise on the M.S. Kenora, where you can enjoy fine dining while checking out the incredible sunsets on offer. Better yet, rent your own houseboat!
3. The Muse
An ingenious partnership of the Lake of the Woods Museum and the Douglas Family Arts Centre makes up The Muse, a multi-award winning cultural destination in Kenora. The museum’s highlights include artifacts from Captain Frank Edwards, an Indian agent in Kenora from 1920 until his death in 1945. The arts centre is home to a collection of watercolour paintings, woodcut prints, and engravings—67 pieces altogether—by Canadian artist Walter J. Phillips, that were donated by longtime residents Nicki and Bryce Douglas. These exhibits of Indigenous an pioneer artifacts, together with displays of artworks and ephemera, illustrate the human history of the region.
4. Mather Walls House
This Victorian dwelling, dating from 1889, currently houses the Lake of the Woods Historical Society, but its previous lives as, first, the home of lumber baron John Mather and then of John Walls, the foreman of the mill, live on in the restoration of the interior and interpretive displays that acknowledge the owners’ impact on the city’s development. Bonus: Of course, there’s a resident ghost…
5. Heritage Murals
Just taking a walk in Kenora is an artistic event. Since 1994, murals painted by leading Canadian artists have been commissioned to grace sides of buildings on city streets. There are currently 21 outdoor murals, each one in a unique style, and each one depicting a scene from the area’s heritage and history; more are planned. Discover them all on a self-guided tour with a map from the Lake of the Woods Discovery Centre.
6. Husky the Muskie & McLeod Park
The informal mascot of Kenora, Husky is a 40-foot-tall sculpture of a muskellunge that sits on the greenbelt in picturesque McLeod Park, which is full of gardens, picnic spots and other photogenic nooks to satisfy your selfie need— if taking a snap with a giant fish isn’t on your bucket list. Don’t miss the tugboat on site!
Farmers’ Market The Whitecap Pavilion at Kenora’s harbourfront is the place to be every Wednesday in the summer months, as dozens of vendors get together to sell locally made, baked or grown wares. Bring a basket and stock up on meats, jewellery, pies, artwork and more to support the city’s artisans and economy.
8. Indigenous Pictographs
The Lake of the Woods shoreline is home to a number of ancient Indigenous paintings, many accessible only by boat. Made with mixtures of sap and berry juices, these amazing artworks are known as spirit rocks, since many Indigenous cultures believe the spirits of their ancestors dwell in various objects. The pictographs are well worth seeing, but it’s important to remember to be sensitive to and respectful of their history and meaning. For a guide to the etiquette of visiting these paintings, visit KENORA.CA before setting out.