Highway Officially Opened By Premier M.F. Hepburn Named “Heenan Highway”

Fort Frances Times and Rainy Lake Herald

Opening Ceremony Somewhat Marred by Downpour of Rain

R. G. Croome Exshorts Hearers To Use Extra Caution On Highways. Despite intermittent downpours which drove the crowds to shelter during the day, the celebration built up by a diligent committee around the official opening of the Heenan Highway from Kenora to Fort Frances yesterday was one of the most successful of community endeavours ever sponsored by the citizens of Fort Frances.

The highway was officially opened by the Premier of Ontario, Mitchel F. Hepburn, in a pouring rain at 5:30 o’clock in the afternoon. Premier Hepburn drew cheers from the hundreds of people who defied the weather by proposing, just before he cut the ribbon, that the new road be called the “Heenan Highway.”

“What would you say,” asked the Premier, “if we call it the ‘Heenan’ Highway,’ what would you think of that?” The crowed cheered in an answer.

“I’m going to recommend that name for it,” he continued, aster paying a sincere tribute to the endeavors of the Honourable Peter Heenan in the interest of Ontario.

Mr. Hepburn referred, in his short address, to Mr. Heenan’s work in the House of Commons in connection with the Compensation Act, the “two great humanitarian Acts”– the Mother’s Allowance Act, and the Old Age Pensions Act, and expressed the hope the that the people of Rainy River and Kenora districts appreciated the work that Mr. Heenan had done in their behalf.

Opening his address, the premier stated that he was happy to pay a visit to this section of Ontario. He prefaced his remarks concerning the highway with humorous references to the weather. When he left Kenora, he declared, he had been a good Presbyterian, and Mr. Heenan had been a good Catholic, but by the time they got to Fort Frances both were Baptists. He also referred to Mr. Heenan description of the country through which they had travelled, which the Minister of Lands and Forests had described as “virgin territory.” Asked what that phrase meant, Mr. Heenan, according to Mr. Hepburn, had said it was “Land where the hand of man had never set foot.”

Mr. Hepburn also commended the work of Hon. Paul Leduc, Minister of Mines, who was also present, in furthering the interests of the north. He liked travelling with Peter and Paul, the two apostles, said the speaker, despite the fact that with them he had to eat fish on Friday’s because of Mr. Heenan, and pea-soup all the time because of the French-Canadian minister.

The Premier concluded his remarks by promising his hearers that the wholehearted support of the present government in any understanding which is for the welfare of the province.

The ribbon across the highway was cut by Mr. Hepburn, who officially declared the “Heenan Highway” open. The scissors with which severed the ribbon were handed to him by Mr. Heenan.

In his address, Mr. Heenan declared that the occasion was a red letter day for himself and for the citizens of Kenora and the Rainy River district. he could not have accomplished the completion of the road, he said, without the co-operation and help of the government and its premier and treasurer, Hon. Mitchell F. Hepburn.

He referred to the day in 1922 when he and Dr. McTaggart, acting chairman of the celebration committee, went to the government of the day and had proposed the highway which was an accomplished fact put on the records.

“I am proud and happy,” said Mr. Heenan. “I will now ask the Premier of Ontario to cut the tape and declare the highway open.”

Both Mr. Hepburn and Mr. Heenan were gathered were greeted with cheers when they arose to address the dripping crowd which defied the elements to witness the momentous ceremony.
Mr. McTaggart acted as chairman, introducing the various speakers from a truck stationed beside the Rainy Lake Hotel, in front of which the ribbon was stretched.

Mayor Joseph H. Parker, of Fort Frances, Mayor Thomas McClellan of Kenora, and Alderman E. D. Honeyman, K. C. representing the mayor of Winnipeg, were the first three speakers.

Because of the down-pouring rain, all the speakers kept their addresses very short. The three civic officials were followed by R. G. Croome, M. L. A. for the Rainy River District, and Hugh McKinnon, M. P. for Kenora-Rainy River.
Mr. Croome referred to the 69th birthday of Canada which was being celebrated, and the progress being marked every decade. He spoke of the aged gentleman who had told him of travelling from Kenora to Fort Frances and crossing the bridge — the bridge of ice in the old days, and contrasted that journey which the journey hic is possible today. “You have one man to thank for the new road,” said Mr. Croome, “and that man is Mr. Heenan.”

Mr. Croome pleaded for extreme care on the part of all who used the highway. “Exercise a little precaution,” he exhorted his hearers. “We do not want to see any accident mar the happiness of this hour.”

The ceremony which was being conducted was the fulfillment of a dream, said Hugh McKinnon, M. P. in his speech. The Federal member referred to the benefits which would accrue to this region from the influx of tourists which would follow the opening of the highway.

Reference was made by several of the speakers to the presence of a large number of United States citizens and the significance of their appearance at the opening.