‘Main Street’ sign goes up

FORT FRANCES—A sign designating downtown Fort Frances as “The Great Canadian Main Street” was erected Thursday—marking an important first step in forming a new common identity for businesses in the Scott Street area.
A Fort Frances Power Corp. crew and sign maker Burton Penner put up the round, 12-ft. diameter sign on Abitibi property located across from Pizza Connection, and Connie Cuthbertson of Northwoods Gallery & Gifts, who spearheaded the initiative to get the sign along with Doug Anderson of Betty’s, couldn’t be happier.
“We’re hoping this is the beginning of many phases yet to come, as far as creating a very exciting and unique downtown area,” said Cuthbertson, noting the sign was an idea in the Downtown Core Report first unveiled last fall.
She added the sign and slogan not only is meant to get the attention of tourists, but to serve as a sort of banner to rally downtown businesses and get them thinking along the same theme when it comes to self-promotion.
“Some people can visualize an idea while others need something concrete to look at,” reasoned Cuthbertson. “This will be great for everyone to see the beginning stages.
“I want to make it clear this is the start of something exciting. It’s going to be something really cool,” she enthused.
“It’s a start,” echoed Anderson. “It’s a good slogan, and the concept is great.
“Now, we’re going to have to live up to it,” he added.
Cuthbertson said the size and location of the sign should catch the attention of tourists waiting in traffic to cross the international bridge, and hopefully will stick in their minds so they remember to check out “The Great Canadian Main Street” whenever they come back here.
Cuthbertson came up with the design for the sign, which features an inukshuk and the slogan “The Great Canadian Main Street.”
She added inukshuks may become a motif when “branding” downtown Fort Frances, and potentially could be used on everything from shopping bags to letterhead.
Cuthbertson said the group got $5,000 from FedNor to pay for the project—money which will be used for not only this sign, but another smaller one at the east entrance to town and a third to be located near Canada Customs.
The signs were made by Penner, the Vermilion Bay artist who made the colourful Northwoods Gallery & Gifts sign outside Cuthbertson’s store.
Cuthbertson said seeing the signage project take shape so quickly should be chalked up to the cooperative efforts of the Downtown Core Committee, the town, the local Business Improvement Association, Rainy River Future Development Corp. (RRFDC), and FedNor.
“Everyone’s really been working together well to get the project done,” she enthused.
The whole “Great Canadian Main Street” initiative came out of the “core” committee, which Cuthbertson said has “really got the doors open between a lot of groups.”
“We’re all here for the same reason. If we can all work together, and know what the right hand is doing, it helps a lot,” she remarked. “It’s been exciting to be part of it, for sure.”
The RRFDC informed the “core” committee back in April that federal funding was available for signage, and all that was needed was a design, an appropriate theme, and signatures of support from other downtown merchants.
So Cuthbertson and Anderson spent a couple of hours going door-to-door getting signatures of support and found the response to be overwhelmingly positive.
They then received the funding from FedNor, and had the three signs designed and manufactured by Penner.
Cuthbertson noted an official unveiling of the sign on Scott Street likely will take place in the near future, when representatives from FedNor come here for a visit.
(Fort Frances Daily Bulletin)