Region is historic crossroads

National Geographic has labelled this area, and south into Iowa, Wisconsin, and North and South Dakota, as the centre of the continent.
If one examines the crest of Rainy River First Nations, they, too, mark this area as the centre of North America.
Archeologists who have dug at and researched into the Laurel Mounds (Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung), a World Heritage site, have discovered trade items, including shells from the Gulf Coast, items from Eastern Canada and the U.S., and still others from the western area of Canada and the U.S.
It clearly identifies that traders using the waterways of the Mississippi, the Arctic watershed, and the Missouri River travelled into this region.
It was the first European travellers who followed those same river routes and established forts in the immediate region. It was the centre of North America for trading, with access to the ports of Eastern Canada and the mouth of the Mississippi.
Today, “The Great River Road” marks the trail of the fur trade industry to New Orleans. The road begins in Dryden or Kenora and can be followed for more than 2,700 km.
For many years, the Chambers of Commerce in Fort Frances, Kenora, and Dryden were active in promoting the route and extension into Canada as a means of promoting tourism from those group of states residing on either side of the great river.
Signs still mark the route in Canada.
Simultaneously, Fort Frances, Rainy River, and Atikokan continue to promote Yonge Street that begins on the waterfront of Toronto and terminates at the border crossing between Rainy River and Baudette, Mn.
It is billed as the longest street in the world at more than 1,800 km.
Prior to 9/11, communities from Thunder Bay through Atikokan, Fort Frances, Rainy River, Warroad, and Steinbach, along with the governments of Ontario, Minnesota, and Manitoba, established the “M.O.M.’s Way” to encourage an alternate travel route between Thunder Bay and Winnipeg.
It was hoped tourist traffic would divert to this route instead of following the Trans-Canada Highway at Shabaqua, and it saw success for several years.
Signs continue to mark the route and encourage travellers to choose it.
More recently, “The Route of the Voyageurs” has been promoted as an alternative to “M.O.M.’s Way.” Spearheaded by the community of Atikokan, it is hoped that the communities of Fort Frances, Emo, Sioux Narrows, and Kenora will join in designating Highway 11 and 17 as the route of the voyageur.
Thunder Bay and Rainy River also would be included. International Falls and Voyageurs National Park have declared that they are on the route of the voyageur.
Hudson’s Bay, the Northwest Fur Company, and the American Fur Company all had forts for trading in this area, and competed for the beaver skins to be shipped back to Europe.
The old Dawson Trail is a remnant of the route using land and water that linked the Great Lakes and the Prairies. It was used by the Wolseley Expedition to quell the Red River Rebellion of 1870.
Our region is an historic crossroads for trade and transportation. How can the crossroads of the continent be celebrated?

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