Group trying to reel in fish museum

A local group is tossing out a line for a Canadian Fresh Water Sports Museum and Hall of Fame as a way to lure anglers and tourists to stop here.
And the idea is getting some nibbles as consultants continue with an economic impact study on waterfront development.
Geoff Gillon, with the Rainy River Future Development Corp., said he and Jim Cumming have been tossing around the idea of an interactive museum for about a year.
And they’ve got John McTaggart, chairman of the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship, on board.
“Fort Frances has a long history of tourism and sport fishing as part of its heritage,” Gillon noted yesterday, adding there was a rich history of fly-in fishing.
“I’m looking for a long-term attraction that brings people to Fort Frances.”
“It’s a natural with the growth of the bass tournament. It ties in with that and it ties in with waterfront development,” echoed McTaggart.
But Gillon stressed much would depend on public support for the concept–and how the idea fits in with the tourism numbers in the consultant’s report.
If there is positive public feedback, Gillon said they would draw up the terms of reference and proceed with a feasibility study to see what kind of economic potential the museum could bring.
Ideally, the group would like to create a non-profit organization to run the museum, and have it funded through corporate sponsorship and fees.
It’s now in the process of establishing committees to develop the site and a long-term co-operation with the town, including a lease for access and use of property.
“I would like to see this go on its own, with the blessing of council. [But] it’s just at the beginning stages,” Gillon said.
With the town hiring a consultant to do an economic feasibility study along the waterfront, Gillon said they felt it was timely to bring the museum idea forward.
Coun. Dave Bourgeault, who sits on the waterfront development committee, said yesterday the town was looking at ways to generate some economic activity there.
“It needs more than just finishing the waterfront,” he added.
But he noted the consultant’s interim report, released to the public last week, focused on making the waterfront part of a bigger attraction, tying it in with other sites like the downtown core, Manitou Mounds, and Voyageurs National Park across the river.
That would make it an actual tourist destination, and market it as such.
“That’s what we would have to do to get more Heritage [Fund] money,” Coun. Bourgeault explained.
The final report from Hilderman, Thomas, Frank and Cram is expected to come before council in October.