Construction of Highway No. 11 between Fort Frances is and investment in the future, Prime Minister John P. Robarts, Q.C. emphasized in Fort Frances on Monday at ceremonies opening the 80-mile $20 million dollar Fort Frances-Atikokan highway and the naming of the $6.5 million causeway across Rainy Lake as the Noden Causeway in honour of W. G. Noden, M. P. P.
Leaden skies which brought an intermittent drizzle throughout the afternoon and evening failed to dampen the enthusiasm of residents of this community and visitors from throughout neighbouring communities in Canada and the United States who converged on Fort Frances for this historic occasion.
Premier Robarts, an inexperienced woodsman, took two swipes with the broad axe to cut through the ribbon which was held by the Hon. Leslie M. Frost, former Prime Minister who announced the start of construction, and the Hon. J. N. Allen, provincial treasurer who as highways minister, signed the first construction contract. The Hon. Charles S. MacNaughton, highways minister and Mr. Noden also assisted.
Following the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Mr. MacNaughton then unveiled the plaque which bears the name “The Noden Causeway.” In doing so, he paid tribute not only to Mr. Noden for his efforts in bringing the causeway and highway into reality, but also pointed out that the Noden family was one the original settlers, dating back to 1888 in this district.
Mr. Robarts, speaking at the causeway site and later in the community Memorial Arena, emphasized that while some highways are built to serve existing areas of population others, such as the Fort Frances-Atikokan highway are built for the future development of the country.
“Highway traffic alone would not justify the cost of the highway,” he said.
In the past 10 years, the Ontario government had paid out $233 millions in highway work from Sault Ste. Marie to the Manitoba boundary. This does not include municipal subsidies, he explained. In addition some 138 millions had been spent on the 900-mile Trans-Canada highway in this area with the majority being financed by he federal government, Premier Robarts explained. This new construction however, was strictly a provincial projects.
“Prosperity will follow good roads, wherever they may be constructed in the province,” Mr. Robarts said. Roads also will bind the province, he added.
Dealing with the actual construction of the highway No. 11 in this district, Mr. Robarts said it had been first brought to his attention in 1956 when he was chairman of a select committee investigating first question of toll roads and then highways generally. His report in 1957 recommended that this highway be given high priority and although residents had expressed willingness to make this a toll project, the committee had not adopted this view.
“Now, nine years later, we have opened the causeway and highway,” Mr. Robarts pointed out. Having been present at its inception, he concluded with the remarks “I hope the child will bring everything you hope for it.”
At the bridge ceremony, Rev. T. W. Wilkinson, chairman of the Fort Frances Ministerial Association, gave the invocation; Mayor John R. McVey welcomed the visitors to the Fort Frances and extended the community’s thanks for the construction project; Reeve S. Hancock of Atikokan brought greetings and introduced the platform guests, while Mr. Noden introduced Mr. Robarts.
The town band, under the direction of Bandmaster Walter Andrusco, played before and for the ceremony despite the drizzle.