Early Kenora Settlers

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Early Kenora Settlers

The City of Kenora came into existence on January 1 2000. It is as old as the century. It includes area which once formed the townships of Rat Portage, Keewatin, Jeffray, Mellick and Norman. An index to bibliographies of many of the people who have lived in these communities may be found at retson.ca/peopleofkenora.html

The earliest residents which date back to 7000 B.C. in the post ice age were the Paleo Indians which date back to 7000 B.C. The oldest recorded site around Kenora is on Tunnel Island and dates back 7000 years. The next group of peoples were the archaic culture which date from 5000 B.C. to roughly 2000 B.C. These people developed the ability to work metal, primarily copper into spear points through a process of cold hammering, a significant advancement in any culture They were the forerunners to the Laurel people which predominated the area until 100 A.D. Their successors were the Blackduck and Selkirk Indians which were the antecedents to the First Nations people that inhabit the area today. When the French explorers arrived they found the Monsonis and Cree in control. The Algonquin (including Ojibway (Chippewa) fought with the Sioux the lattter of which were driven out by the 1770s. Treaty 3 was signed with the objibway in 1873.

The first whites in the Lake of the Woods area were the French who came to Lake of the Woods first by way of the Kaministiquia route from Lake Superior - the first name left for History being De Noyon arround 1668. La Verendrye later used the Grand Portage -Pigeon River route which eventually replaced the the more northern route.

In 1870 Hudson Bay ceded its territories to the new nation of Canada and work on the Dawson trail began. Travel from Lake Superior of from Winnipeg was a strenous exercise. The first train to arrive in the Kenora area arrived from Winnipeg. Shortly after the trian could arrive from the East. Until several decades later when the development of roads such as the Trans Canada were developed travel by rail replaced over land travel.

Arrival Date in Kenora


John Fraser, James Charbonneau, James Fitzgerald, Charles Fraser, William and John Heany, James Ledman, George McGee


Adam Blondin, Israel Gagne, A.D. McDonald


James Begg, J. McKeown, Thomas Montgomery, George Montgomery,


James Baxendale, William Bishop, J. Bunting, John Challoner, John Fiddler, William Hawley, Wellington McCammon, Andrew McKenzie, John McQuarrie, William Richards


John Clark, William Gould, William Kendall, A.D. McKenzie, Joseph Perrault, Joseph Robinson


John Anderson, Joseph Beaudro, Sir Douglas Colin Cameron, J. Clarkson, John Dalzill, Fred Dulmage, J.J. Linklatter, Alf McDonald, Joseph Perron


John Benchley, J. Clarke, J. Clougher, Charles Falkner, William Howard, P.C. Mills, W.R. Wilson, Albert Wright


D. H. Currie, Joseph Derouin, Barney Duncan, D.T. Feguson. Ed Foster, W.L. Howard, Dave Kay, Nels Larson, William Margach, Alfred McCall, George McPherson, R. E. Preston, Thomas Ratchford, David Ross


Charles Anderson, Charles Caucutt, Joseph Harper, James Lang, William McKreith, Harry Webster


Robert Wiggins


James Fraser, G. Frisble, B. Linstrom, Thomas Loutitt, J. O'Neil, W, Ouelette, F Thompson


Mr. Ernest Appleton, came to Rat Portage around 1890 from Winnipeg to open a branch of the A. McDonald Wholesale Grocery. Later, with partner Mr. John Partington, he organized and managed the King Cash Grocery business.




Common Grounds Committee, Common Ground: Stories of Lake of the Woods, Kenora: Lake of the Woods Museum, 2010

Horan, Gertrude C. (1952) History of Rat Portage, Ontario 1879-1905, Kenora Public Library REF 971.311 HOR

Hylnski, Sharon, Cheryl Barnard, Bonnie Bowiec and Lori Nelson, Early Settlers of Rat Portage, 1881-82, Call Letters in Kenora Public Library 971.311HLY

King, Stuart Lake of the Woods, History & Heritage, Kenora, 1993

Lund, Duane R. Lake of the Woods, Yesterday and Today, Staples, Minnesota: Nordell Graphic Communications,1975

Lund, Duane R. Lake of the Woods II ENarliest Accounts, Cambridge, MN: Adventure Publications, 1984

McQuarrie, Neil The Forgotten Trail, From Prince Arthur's landing to Red RiverBrandon, Mb: NJM Enterprises, 2013

Mead, Florence, Through the Kenora Gateway, Kenora: Bilko Press, 1981

Nelson, Patricia and Lori (1978) A Colloquial History of the Lake of the Woods. Kenora Public Library 971.311

Robertson, Heather & Melinda McCracken Magical, Mysterious Lake of the Woods, Winnipeg: Heartlands Associates, 2003