Painting the town attractive

The Rainy River Future Development Corp. is working with the Town of Fort Frances and the “Re-Inventing Fort Frances” committee to make sure no one ever says “Fort where?” again.
In an effort to attract more tourists and increase the visibility of Fort Frances, banners representing the various activities that are a trademark of Canadian life in this area will cover the side of the Abitibi-Consolidated’s “lap” building—visible to tourists as they cross the border here.
“I always hated telling people that I lived across from International Falls because nobody knew where Fort Frances was,” said Emo Reeve Russ Fortier.
“This will all change now. It’s a great gateway,” he added.
There currently is a small government sign welcoming visitors to Canada, but otherwise it is just an industrial-looking brick wall—not very inviting. But the banners should change this.
Several community partners came together to support the initiative, which has been nearly two years in the making.
“We could not have done this without everybody working together and that’s the most important thing—people working with people,” RRFDC chair Telford Advent said at the project’s launch on Friday.
The project began in the wake of several studies that have been completed in the region over the last three years—the most recent one being the “Re-Inventing Fort Frances” study in 2003.
The purpose of the studies was to identify what was the limiting the growth of tourism in the area.
The re-designing of the wall on the “lap” building represents Phase One of an ongoing project that will include improving the bridge and border procedures and planning a new tourist centre here as part of the “Canada Discovery Centre.”
This new centre will showcase various aspects of Canadian culture, in terms of industry, recreation, and conservation through displays and activities that will highlight the Canadian experience and “overcome the perceptions that may prevent Americans from visiting Canada.”
The banners are one solution aimed at addressing the needs of Fort Frances but now, with so many communities in the region contributing to the project, federal Liberal candidate Ken Boshcoff said they have greater implications for all of NorthWestern Ontario.
“From a first impression standpoint, it will convey very positive messages from the get-go so it will be welcoming, helpful, and informative,” Boshcoff said at Friday’s launch.
“You set a very high standard here in terms of co-operation and the proof will be in the pudding,” he added.
Susan Bodnarchuk, the chair of the “Re-Inventing Fort Frances” committee, is encouraged by the community support she has seen since the committee formed in October, 2000.
“It’s wonderful to see something actually materialize out of all the work we’ve put in,” she remarked.
“It’s been a long time coming,” added Fort Frances Mayor Dan Onichuk. “I’d personally like to recognize the ‘Re-Inventing’ committee that started the process a long time ago.
“I truly would also like to recognize the efforts of the Rainy River Future Development Corp.”
Community partners also include Abitibi-Consolidated Inc., the Township of Sioux Narrows-Nestor Falls, the City of Dryden/the Municipality of Machin, the City of Kenora, and the Sunset Country Travel Association.
The Northwest Angle First Nations #33 and #37, Naotkamegwanning Whitefish Bay First Nation, Onegaming First Nation/Township of Sioux Narrows, and the Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung Historical Centre (Manitou Mounds) also are involved.
The target date for completion of the banners is this August.