Tourist centre sees families, road trippers

Sam Odrowski

While some town residents may never enter the Fort Frances Tourist Information Centre, it’s a valuable asset to those who are unfamiliar with our community.

The centre offers in-depth tourist information about attractions within the town and northwestern Ontario as a whole.

Staff at the centre say they’ve noticed an increase in traffic from road trippers and families passing through Fort Frances this year.

“You have a lot of families that are staying in International Falls and just want to come up to Canada to say they’ve been, so that’s really cool,” said Emma Dykstra, tourism and events co-ordinator at the centre.

“You never realize how much Fort Frances has to offer as a representation of what Canada is, as far as fishing and the stores that we have and what they sell.

“That kind of stuff is pretty cool,” she added.

While a majority of the visitor traffic through Fort Frances consist of fisherman from Minnesota, Dyskstra noted an increase in those travelling here from Kentucky and other parts of the United States.

She told the Times a German-Australian couple who were road tripping from Calgary passed through the centre, as well as tourists from France.

“We even had a Saudi Arabian family come in,” Dykstra said. “We’ve had people from all over actually.”

“If you go through our guest book it’s pretty interesting to see the variety of [places people come from],” she added.

Dykstra told the Times that the centre has already experienced the busiest parts of summer, with June consistently being one of the more popular months for American tourists.

In early September, there’s an increase of older couples who reside south of the border going on vacation in Canada, as well, Dykstra noted.

When folks come to the tourist centre for information about Fort Frances, the staff always suggest visiting Scott Street for some local shopping and Front Street for the view.

“We see our waterfront as a really big tourist attraction, especially with the Hallett and the lookout tower,” Dykstra explained.

The centre’s staff also recommend visiting the local museum and the Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung Historical Centre to get a better grasp on local history pertaining to the district and surrounding First Nations.

While tourists who are looking for a relaxing ride through the district are often sent to Nestor Falls, according to Dykstra.

One of the centre’s main attractions for those visiting or passing through Fort Frances is the life-sized Canadian moose in the foyer they can get photographed with.

Meanwhile, the town’s location, being the gateway to those travelling west of Ontario and situated on an international border, makes the centre much-needed for those travelling through the area, said Dykstra.

“Because Fort Frances is a small town, it’s hard to look up stuff to do [online],” she noted.

“When you go to Toronto, it’s easy to find a list of festivals and things that are happening. But since we’re smaller, it’s nice to have a tourist centre you can pop into and get more detailed information from locals.”

Lauren Hamilton, who also works at the Tourist Information Centre, told the Times it’s nice for tourists to get personal opinions from people who live in the area so they can learn about some of the hidden spots or gems that might not be commonly known.

Both Dykstra and Hamilton will be leaving the centre shortly to return to school but it will remain open to tourists until the end of September, at which time it closes until May of next year.