Grand opening for tourist sites set to go

Duane Hicks

Those interested in learning about history, as well as the recent enhancements to the downtown and waterfront here, should take note as events are scheduled this weekend to celebrate the grand opening of Phase II of the Heritage Tourism Project.
Fort Frances Museum curator Pam Cain noted the “Hallett” and lookout tower opened a couple of weeks ago, but the town wanted to officially kick off “Tourism Week” by showcasing the projects as well as local history and arts.
On Friday at 10 a.m., there will be a reception, with cake and coffee, at the Ontario Travel Information Centre, at which time the artists who designed the banners will be acknowledged.
The reception is open to the public, and several school classes also are expected to be on hand, said Cain.
The Ontario Travel Information Centre is holding an open house all day. People can drop by anytime to check out displays and enter draws for “Getaway to Ontario” packages.
After the reception, the public is welcome to be a part of a group walking the “Pathway to the Parkway,” and stroll the new banner route along the Great Canadian Main Street to the La Verendrye Parkway and Sorting Gap Marina.
There will be a ribbon-cutting in front of the lookout tower at noon.
This will be followed by the “International Tug of War” at 12:30 p.m. Residents are encouraged to come out and watch, or join in the battle between Fort Frances and International Falls.
Two fundraiser barbecues, both sponsored by M&M Meat Shops, also will be held at the waterfront that day.
The first one, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., will be in support of “Fun in the Sun” while the second (from 4-8 p.m.) will be in support of the Muskie Sports Association.
Also at the waterfront, Fred Scheer’s Lumberjack Shows from Wisconsin will perform at 1 p.m., 4 p.m., and 7 p.m., featuring a unique blend of sport, history, and comedy with cross-cut sawing, axe throwing, chainsaw carving, log rolling, hot sawing, chopping, an obstacle pole relay race, and speed pole climbing events.
This free show will be located at the northeast corner of Minnie Avenue and Front Street.
For those wanting to exercise their creativity, they can check out “Art on the Parkway” with Community Arts and Heritage Education Project executive director Lila Cano.
People can do crafts with her from noon-7 p.m.
Meanwhile, anyone who ever worked on the “Hallett” is asked to meet there at 6 p.m. for a group photo and to share memories.
Cain also noted the public is encouraged to tour the lookout tower, “Hallett,” and museum.
Admission to the heritage sites, available at the Sorting Gap Marina and museum, costs is for $3.50 for adults, $2.50 for seniors and children 12 and under, or a maximum family fee of $10.50.
Paying admission provides access to all three sites (visitors are given a time sensitive tag with an access code that is changed daily).
Over at the museum, people can pick up an activity sheet to go on a “Discover Fort Frances Scavenger Hunt.” While there, they also can check out the new Lumber Camp Life exhibit on loan from the Thunder Bay Museum.
And in the downtown area, the public can view artwork by local artists, which will be on display in various businesses along the Great Canadian Main Street.
On Saturday, there will be a professional development workshop for artists called “Minding the Money,” led by Cano, from 9:30-10:30 a.m. at the museum.
Those interested are asked to pre-register by calling 274-7891.
Then at 2 p.m., Stephen Challis will make a presentation on “The Heritage and Geography of the Namakan River” at the museum.
This will include information on the fur trade and logging, as well as recent video footage of the spring lake sturgeon spawn.
As well, people can drop by the museum all day (10 a.m.-5 p.m.) and contribute their time and/or ideas to the “What Hooks You Here?’ rug-hooking project.
Out at the Fort Frances Airport, meanwhile, the annual “Fly-in, Drive-in” barbecue, in support of the 908 Rainy Lake Air Cadet Squadron, will run from 1o a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday.
There will be classic cars and motorcycles, airplanes, and radio-controlled planes on display.
Finally, on Sunday, there will be a Canadian River’s Day Paddle at the Sorting Gap Marina starting at 1 p.m.
Those interested can bring their canoe or kayak, lifejackets, and paddles and join a group of fellow paddlers on the river (a limited number of canoes will be available).
Cain, who has been involved with the planning of the Heritage Tourism Project since its beginnings in 2004, said it’s “rewarding” to see families using the waterfront sites now, adding the entire project has been “professionally done.”
“I am looking forward to when the tourists start arriving,” she added.
The three days of events are sponsored by the Rainy River Future Development Corp., with thanks to La Place Rendez-Vous, the Community Arts and Heritage Education
Project, and Town of Fort Frances.
For more information, contact the museum at 274-7891 or via e-mail at