Kenora Time Line

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4 Billion Years ago

Kenora is a situated on the north shore of the Lake of the Woods, on the Canadian Shield formed over 4 billion years ago.

500 million years ago

It lies upon metemorhic rock from the Precambrian period that more than 500 million years ago was the first part of North America to be permanemtly elevated above sea level. The Lake of the Woods is a remnant of Lake Agassiz.

8,000 year ago

The area has been a centre of human activity for at least 8,000 years owing to an abundance of fur-bearing animals, fish and the exit to waters which altimately lead to the artic. The local inhabitants referred to the north end of the lake as Wauzhushk Onigum, which translates "portage to the country of the muskrat."


The first white man to visit the Lake of the Woods and be recorded is Jacques De Noyon around 1688.


Governor Pierre de Rigaud de Vaudreuil, Marquis de Vaudreuill surrenders New France (what is now Quebec, and other French territories in North America) to a British invasion force at Montréal by The Articles of Capitulation on 8 September 1760 ending the Seven Years' War and 150 years of French - British conflict in North America. New France is under military occupation and military rule until the signing of tenhe Treaty of Paris 2 1/2 years later in 1763.


In 1732, Pierre La Verendrye established Fort St. Charles on the North West shore of the lake. In 1736 Jean Baptiste La Verendrye, Father Aulneau and 19 others were massacred by Sioux. The Fort was abandoned in 1763.


the Treaty of Paris is signed on 10 February 1763 by France, Britain and Spain. By the terms of the treaty, Britain obtained the French possessions of Ile Royale (Cape Breton Island), Canada (Quebec), and the Great Lake Basin and the east bank of the Mississippi River. Britain received Florida from Spain. France retained fishing rights in Newfoundland and the Gulf of St Lawrence, acquired the small Gulf islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon and had her lucrative West Indian possessions, trading centres in India and slaving station on the Île de Gorée (in present-day Senegal) restored. Britain would later lose the southern North American colonies in the American Revolution. The northern colonies would become the modern country of Canada.

At the time of the Treaty of Paris, France held territory included the Great Lakes Basin and territory "running from a corner of Pennsylvania, along the Ohio River, westward, to the Bank of the River Mississippi, and northward to the southern boundary of the Merchants Adventurers of England Trading into the Hudson's Bay". The drafters of the Treaty of Paris beleived the that the Mississippi River flowed north to the Arctic sea and hence the western most boundary of British North america would be the center of the Missippi River. Later in the 1880s, Ontario would lay claim claim to the land West of what is now Thunder Bay, stating that it had originally been part of Upper Canada which, in turn became the former province of Quebec. In Ontario's opinion, this old Treaty between France and England established Ontario’s boundary due north from the western most end of the Mississippi River. As the Mississippi River has its beginning somewhere near Wadena, Minnesota, a line drawn due north from there places Ontario’s western most boundary somewhere near where it lies today, about 50 kilometers west of Kenora (Rat Portage).


Quebec Act, 1774, passed by the British Parliament to institute a permanent administration in Canada replacing the temporary government created at the time of the Proclamation of 1763. It gave the French Canadians complete religious freedom and restored the French form of civil law. It was influential in keeping Canada loyal to the crown during the American Revolution. It was replaced by the Constitutional Act of 1791


The Treaty of Paris (1783)) following the War of US Independence describes the boundary between Canada and the US.


The Constitutional Act passed by the British Parliament in 1791 divided the Province of Québec into two distinct colonies: Lower Canada in the east and Upper Canada in the west. The act repealed the Québec Act of 1774. The name was reintroduced into official documents and the two colonies were from then on called "provinces":


Merger of the Hudson¹s Bay Comany and the North West Company.


International Boundary Commission surveyed Lake of the Woods for the US/Canada Boundary. David Thompson, Surveyor, and John Bigsby, Secretary, for the British, Joseph Delafield, Agent, and James Ferguson, Surveyor, for the US. Map rejected by the Hudson¹s Bay Company.


David Thompson and his son Samuel repeat survey of Lake of the Woods finding North West Angle. Map resulted in final definition of boundary.


Ludwig Tyarks, surveyor for the British, confirmed that the North West Angle is more north-westerly than Rat Portage.


Hudson's Bay Company established a post on Old Fort Island, replacing the post at the Dalles.


Webster-Ashburton Treaty ratified North West Angle as the most northerly place on the US/Canada boundary and the connection due south to the 49th parallel.


Mr R.J.N. Pither comes to this part of the country in a birch bark canoe


Gold first discovered in the area.


Henry Youle Hind Expedition, sponsored by the Canadian government, passed through Lake of the Woods, searching out an emigrant route from Lake Superior to the Red River. Samuel J. Dawson was with this expedition.
Palliser Expedition, sponsored by the British government, passed through Lake of the Woods, on a three-year expedition to survey the resources of western Canada to establish the suitability of the general area for settlement.


Hudson¹s Bay Company post opened on the mainland on the present site of Kenora.


The then named British North American Act 1867 (renamed Constitution Act 1867 by the Constitution Act, 1982) received royal assent on March 29, 1867, and set July 1, 1867, as the date for union of four provinces into the Dominion of Canada.


Wolseley Expedition arrived at northern end of Lake of the Woods.


Dawson Trail opened.


First steamboat on Lake of the Woods.


Treaty #3 was signed at the North West Angle.


First sod of main line of Canadian Pacific Railway turned at Fort William on June 1 1875.


Frank Gardner arrived in Keewatin and is generally acknowledged as the first permanent white settler in the area. William Heaney and F.T. Hooper arrive

Wholesale and Retail Dry Goods, Clothing, Boots and Shoes, and Groceries, Main Street, Rat Portage--An important branch of commercial activity, and one deserving of prominent mention in this historical review of the great northern leading industries, is the general store trade, and in this connection it is a pleasure to speak of that enterprising and successful concern of John Gardner & Co., dealers in dry goods, such as woollens, linens, and dress goods of all descriptions, clothing, boots and shoes, gents' furnishings, groceries, provisions, etc. The members of the firm are John, Frank and William Gardner. Mr. Frank Gardner is one of the old pioneer merchants of the Northwest, being the first white trader locating in this country, starting business at Keewatin in 1876, moving his business to this city in 1879. Mr. Frank Gardner is the builder of the large passenger and towing steamboat, the "Algoma", which is now owned by Mr. John Gardner, the senior member of the above firm. All of these gentlemen are held in the highest estimation in commercial life for their many sterling qualities and strict integrity, and justly merit the success attained by their ability, energy, and perserverance. "

(Prominent Business Houses of Rat Portage" in The New West, Winnipeg, Manitoba, 1888)


Joseph Derry, George Derry, Charles McMurdie, Frank Moore, arrive in Rat Portage.


Rat Portage lots surveyed by the Hudson¹s Bay Company.


First hotel in Rat Portage, the Rideout House, was built.

In February, John Mather blazed on a tree the future site of Keewatin Mills.
John Mather, who had applied for post office seals, switched seals and kept "Keewatin Mills" for the western railway stop and sent "Rat Portage" to the eastern stop. Post Office is established with John Mather as Post Master and Frank Gardner as Deputy.

The first doctor in Rat Portage, Dr. Thomas Hanson, arrived.
Cut made between Portage Bay to Darlington Bay for sawmill.


The first newspaper in Rat Portage was printed. It was called The North Star.
The first sawmill operation began at Keewatin Mills, owned by John Mather.
Visit by the Marquis of Lorne and Princess Louise.
Cut made from Portage Bay to Winnipeg River for sawmill.


First library established in Rat Portage.
Discovery of Sultana vein of gold.
First roundhouse with a turntable built by the CPR.

Ottawa rules in favour of Manitoba in the Ontario Manitoba Boundaries dispute.

Father Albert Lacombe arrives at his new mission at Rat Portage on November 2 1881.


The Town of Rat Portage was legally incorporated by Manitoba on July 18 1882.

Western line of the CPR between Rat Portage and Winnipeg completed. First train into Rat Portage from Winnipeg, June 11, 1882. First train into Rat Portage from Montreal in May of 1885, likely May 17.
First railway station built in Rat Portage.
First Roman Catholic Church was built in Rat Portage.

Rat Portage Business men and CPR petition Province of Ontario for a civil Court.


Eastern line of CPR from Thunder Bay completed.

Polling took place in Rat Portage to elect members to the Provincial Legislatures of both Manitoba and Ontario.

First municipal government is formed in Rat Portage and W.L. Baker is the first mayor.

In September 1883, the first school in Rat Portage opens in a 50th foot log school house on Hennepen Lane behind what in 2013 was the Salvation Army Citadel, the playground where the children played, presently in 2013 is occupied by Italian Restaurante. The School teacher was Janet Clarissa Crooks "Miss Crooks" to the students, until she marries Mr. Pirrie Thompson in April 1886. She is joined in the spring of 1886 by the second teacher Melvin Seegmiller who teach a total of 70 students.


Manitoba Ontario Boundary Case decided in favour of Ontario. All of Kenora is to be located in the Province of Ontario.

Plaque Text

When the Province of Ontario was established in 1867, no defined boundary separated it from the Hudson's Bay Company lands to the north and west. Canada's acquisition of these lands in 1869 raised the issue of provincial and federal jurisdictions and the ensuing dispute was submitted to arbitration. In 1878 a decision favourable to Ontario placed the western boundary at its present location and the northern at the English and Albany Rivers. The federal government rejected the award and in 1881 involved Manitoba by ruling that its eastern limit would be Ontario's still undetermined western boundary. The dispute was settled in 1884 when the Privy Council in Britain upheld the 1878 award.

Excerpt from Manitoba Historical Society:

While this settlement was largely brought about in a friendly manner there were some lively disputes over the problem as to whether Rat Portage, now Kenora, was situated in Manitoba or in Ontario. Each of the provinces proclaimed its laws in force in the district and each built a court house and a jail and appointed magistrates and constables. Rat Portage, because of the hundreds of men in the district constructing the main line of the Canadian Pacific Railway, was a wild and wide-open town. Prisoners committed to jail by one province were released by the other; constables who made arrests were themselves arrested by constables of the other province; the Manitoba jail was stormed and burned and Manitoba's Premier Norquay, along with a force of police, travelled by special train to arrest those responsible and to bring them back to jail in Winnipeg; and when each province held an election on the same day Manitoba sent a militia force to Rat Portage to protect its polls. Before the disputed district was given by order of the Canadian Government to Ontario in 1884, Rat Portage had the most, but undoubtedly the worst, government ever known in Canada.

The first Presbyterian Church in Kenora was Knox Presbyterian Church was on the North side of First St. North, just east of Matherson St. in 1884.


“First train into Rat Portage from Montreal in May of 1885, likely May 17. Historic timecard file with CPR shows June 11, 1882, date and company history gives May 16, 1885, for linking of rails connecting Montreal and Winnipeg at Noslo, Ont. to carry through a troop train going to North-west Rebellion. This train would likely pass through Rat Portage the next day, May 17th.


First ocean to ocean train came through Rat Portage.


Norman threatened to withdraw from the municipality of Rat Portage, citing taxation without adequate return as the reason.
Rollerway Dam built at the western outlet to the Winnipeg River.
Norman¹s first school was built.


Lake of the Woods Milling Company began production of flour.
Keewatin lots surveyed by the Keewatin Lumber and Manufacturing Company.


Kenora officially became part of the province of Ontario in 1889. Rat Portage Curling Club is formed.


Rat Portage Rowing Club formed.


First Rat Portage Regatta was held.
Thistles hockey team organized.

Census of Canada shows Rat Portgae 's population as 1,806


Rat Portage dam and powerhouse built on eastern outlet to Winnipeg River.
The first telephone system was operated in Rat Portage by the Citizen¹s Telephone and Electric Light Company.

Services for Anglicans begin in Rat Portage. The first church was built in 1884 accross the street from the Catholic Notra Dame on 1 St. North. Rev. Arthur Stunden was the first resident Clergyman. The church burned down in 1892 and a new Church build on West side of Main Street South.


Western Algoma Brick Company established.
Local Humane Society organized.
Norman Dam built by Keewatin Lumbering and Manufacturing Company.
Twenty gold mines are operating with 15 miles of Rat Portage.


Visit by Sir Wildred Laurier.


The Salvation Army was organized in Rat Portage in 1895. The current building on the West side of Matheson betwwen First St. South and Second St. South was built in 1937.

The Kendall House located at 127 Fifth Avenue was built. The house , a solid brick structure, symmetrically designed with twin canted bay windows, centred entrance, porch and upper dormers boast 10 fott ceilings on the frst floor and 9 foot ceilings on the second.


$25,000.00 of gold bullion was shipped out of Rat Portage from the area mines.
Victoria Rink was built.
Rat Portage Baptist Church was built.
Royal Jubilee Hospital completed.


Construction begun on what is now City Hall at 1 Main St. S. Constructed of locally made bricks the building provides a feast of architectural details that make the build one of Kenora's finest. When construction was finnished in 1900 it opened as a Post Office.

The first First Baptist Church located at the corner of Railway St and Fourth Ave S. (subsequent location of Notra Dame- Keewatin - Copperfin -Credit Union.) was opened in 1898. This building was torn down in 1955 and a new Church on 2nd Street S. betwween Fourth and Fifth Ave. South was opened.

St. Mary's Residential School opened.
Victoria Rink built.


Official opening of the second Central School.


New CPR Station and roundhouse.
Post Office building opened.
Gun Club founded.

Kenora 1901

World sculling championship held in Rat Portage between Rat Portage resident Jake Gaudaur and Australian George Towns. Census of Canada shows Rat Portgage 's population as 5,202.

1901 Canada Census, District 44, Algoma Sub District Rat Portage N2


St. Joseph¹s Hospital opened by the Sisters of Providence of Montreal.
Lake of the Woods Yacht Club organized.


Name of Rat Portage changed to Kenora.
Double tracking of the CPR began. Completed in 1910.


Eastern outlet power plant enlarged.


Kenora Thistles win the Stanley Cup.


On April 11, 1908, the Private Bills Committee of the Ontario Legislature passed a bill incorporating the town of Keewatin, and dividing the municipality into three wards.

The sister townships were joined to form Jaffray and Melick.
Road from Melick Township to Redditt is laid out.
First time women can vote in the municipal election.


By-law was passed to use numbers on streets instead of names. Houses were also numbered at this time.


Tourist Hotel (Kenricia) located at 155 Main St. South was constructed, architect Frank Newell.
Court House located at 216 Water St. was built with Frank Heakes, Chief Architect for the Department of Public Works acting as Architect.


Canada Census shows Kenora's population at 6,158


Present Kenora Fire Hall was built after the first 3 had burned down.


Kenora High School was built.


The Kenora Fish Market opened by Frank Gustafson.
Visit by the Duke of Connaught, Governor General of Canada, and his wife, the Duchess of Connaught, and his daughter, Princess Patricia.


One-room log cabin school built in Black Sturgeon district.
The Ukrainian Literary Society was formed.


Kenora Public Library built.


Present St. Alban¹s Cathedral was constructed.


Hudson¹s Bay Company store closed.


The first seaplane to fly over central Canada stopped in Kenora.
The Thistle Rink was built.
Construction of pulp and paper mill started. Owned by Backus and Brooks.


Census f Canada shows Kenora's popultion at d5,407.


Golf Club founded.


Kenora cenotaph unveiled in Memorial Park.
Production of paper begins at paper mill.
Golf Clubhouse built.


Lakeside toboggan slides and ski jump opened.


Jail built on Laurenson Lake.


Cecelia Jeffrey Residential School built on Round Lake.


The Kenora Rowing Club wins the Lipton Cup, marking them as the champions of the Northwestern International Rowing Association. They win it again in 1936.


Census of Canada shows Kenora's population at 6,766


Completion of the Ontario-Manitoba section of the Trans Canada Highway.
New high school was officially opened later renamed Lakewood Secondary School.


The first woman, Elizabeth Courtney, is elected to the Municipal Council of the Town of Kenora.
New curling rink built at corner of First Street South and Eighth Avenue South.


Argyle II replaces the original.


Salvation Army Citadel was built.


Maple Leaf Flour Mill burned down . Not replaced.


Ontario and Minnesota Paper Co. took over the paper mill.


Population of Kenora climbs to 7,672 in 1941 census


Ice palace built on Main Street for Winter Carnival.


The bridge over the western outlet of the Winnipeg River is completed.


Kenora 's Population continues to rise now up to 8,695


Rabbit Lake School constructed.
Kenora Thistles hockey team played exhibition games in Japan.
B¹nai Brith Camp established on Town Island.


Kenora¹s 75th Anniversary.


Kenora's population rises to 10,904


Beaver Brae Secondary School opened.


Lake of the Woods Museum established.


Lake of the Woods International Sailing Association (LOWISA) held first regatta.


Husky the Muskie constructed for McLeod Park.


Kenora Recreation Centre opened.
Kenora General Hospital and St. Joseph's Hospital merge to form the Lake of the Woods District Hospital.


The school boards of Jaffray and Melick, Norman, Keewatin, and Kenora amalgamated.


Kenora's popularion rises to 10,952


May 10 1973 The "Human Bomb" bank robbery.


Marguerite Canfield was the first woman elected to the Jaffray and Melick council.


Indoor Pool at Kenora Recreation Centre opened.
New curling rink replaced older one.


Mildred Davis is the first woman elected to the Municipal Council of Keewatin.


Kenora's population rises to 9,817


The last log boom was towed into town.


Kenora Harbourfront development completed.


Jaffray and Melick becomes a town.


Jaffray and Melick's name shortened to Jaffray-Melick.


Town of Kenora's population rises to 9,782


The official date for the Amalgamation of Kenora, Keewatin, and Jaffray Melick to create the amalgamated City of Kenora. The City of Kenora is as old as the century dating from January 1 2000.


Census of Canda shows Kenora's poplations at 15,838. The reason is the inclusion of the Keewatin and Jeffray Mlick additions to the old Kenora.


trust Loist Mill starts production of Timberstrand


Newly Expanded Kenora Recreation Centre Opens

Abitibi Announces the pending closure of the Kenora Paper Mill


Kenora's population shrinks to 15,177 in the 2006 Census.


City of Kenora launches a new brand logo and slogan


Population of Kenora slips below 15000 to 14955.