Historical Timeline

Below you will find a brief look at the history of Kenora and surrounding Lake of the Woods area.


6000 BC First human activity. Paleo-Indian peoples live in small bands and hunt mammoth and other giant species on the shore of glacial Lake Agassiz.
3000 BC Archaic people live in small bands, hunting and fishing.
1-1000 Middle Woodland Woodland people move into this area, live in villages, hunt, fish and gather.
1000 Late Woodland Woodland people, the Selkirk and Blackduck, live in villages and well-organized societies. They are here when the first Europeans arrive.
1688 Jacques De Noyon sights Lake of the Woods, the first European to do so.
1732 Pierre La Verendrye establishes Fort St. Charles.
1736 Jean Baptiste La Verendrye, Father Aulneau and 19 others are massacred by Sioux.
1763 Fort St. Charles is abandoned.
1783 Britain and United States sign the Treaty of Paris following the War of Independence. The Treaty describes the boundary between Canada and the US.
1821 Merger of the Hudson’s Bay Company and the North West Company.
1823 International Boundary Commission surveys 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 is rejected by the Hudson’s Bay Company.
1824 David Thompson and his son Samuel repeat survey of Lake of the Woods finding North West Angle. Map results in final definition of boundary.
1825 Ludwig Tiarks, surveyor for the British, confirms that the North West Angle is more north-westerly than Rat Portage.
1836 Hudson’s Bay Company establishes a post on Old Fort Island, replacing the post at the Dalles.
1842 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.
1846 Area is visited by Paul Kane, artist and explorer.
1850 Gold is first discovered in the area.

Henry Youle Hind Expedition, sponsored by the Canadian government, passes through Lake of the Woods, searching out an emigrant route from Lake Superior to the Red River.

Samuel J. Dawson is with this expedition.

Palliser Expedition, sponsored by the British government, passes 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.

1861 Hudson’s Bay Company post opens on the mainland on the present site of Kenora.

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

The boundary dispute between Ontario, the Dominion Government, and Manitoba begins.

1871 Dawson Trail opens.
1872 First steamboat on Lake of the Woods.
1873 Treaty #3 is signed at the North West Angle.
1876 Frank Gardner arrives in Keewatin and is generally acknowledged as the first permanent white settler in the area.
1877 Construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway begins in this area.
1878 Rat Portage lots are surveyed by the Hudson’s Bay Company.

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

The first doctor in Rat Portage, Dr. Thomas Hanson, arrives.

A cut is made between Portage Bay to Darlington Bay for sawmill.


The first newspaper in Rat Portage is printed. It’s called The North Star.

The first sawmill operation begins at Keewatin Mills, owned by John Mather.

Visit by the Marquis of Lorne and Princess Louise.

Rat Portage is considered the roughest town in Canada.


First library is established in Rat Portage.

Discovery of Sultana vein of gold.

First roundhouse with a turntable is built by the CPR.


Western line of the CPR between Rat Portage and Winnipeg is completed.

First railway station is built in Rat Portage.

First Roman Catholic Church is built in Rat Portage.

Town of Rat Portage is legally incorporated by Manitoba.  Walter Oliver is elected Mayor.

Rat Portage and Lake of the Woods is already gaining a reputation as a summer holiday hot spot.


Eastern line of CPR from Thunder Bay is completed.

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

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

First school in Rat Portage is built on Hennepin Lake.

1884 Boundary dispute between Ontario and Manitoba is settled in favour of Ontario.

Rat Portage’s first firehall burns down.

The first circus arrives in town.

Population is about 750.

1886 First ocean to ocean train comes through Rat Portage.

Norman threatens to withdraw from the municipality of Rat Portage, citing taxation without adequate return as the reason.

Rollerway Dam is built at the western outlet to the Winnipeg River.

Norman’s first school is built.


Lake of the Woods Milling Company begins production of flour.

Keewatin lots are surveyed by the Keewatin Lumber and Manufacturing Company.

1889 Rat Portage Curling Club forms.
1890 Rat Portage Rowing Club forms.

First Rat Portage Regatta is held.

Thistles hockey team is organized.


Rat Portage dam and powerhouse is built on eastern outlet to Winnipeg River.

The first telephone system is operated in Rat Portage by the Citizen’s Telephone and Electric Light Company.

Town of Rat Portage is legally incorporated by Ontario.


Western Algoma Brick Company is established.

Local Humane Society organizes.

Norman Dam is built by Keewatin Lumbering and Manufacturing Company.

Twenty gold mines are operating within 15 miles of Rat Portage.

1.65 million pounds of fish and 123,750 pounds of caviar are harvested from Lake of the Woods.

1894 Visit by Sir Wilfred Laurier.
1895 Salvation Army is organized in Rat Portage.
1896 J.W. Stone Boat Manufacturing Company, the lake’s first boat building company, opens.

$25,000.00 of gold bullion is shipped out of Rat Portage from the area mines.

Victoria Rink is built.

Rat Portage Baptist Church is built.

Royal Jubilee Hospital is completed.

Zion Methodist Church is built.

St. Mary’s Indian Residential School opens.

1899 Official opening of the second Central School.

New CPR Station and roundhouse is built.

Post Office building opens.

Gun Club is founded.

The ferry boat Argyle begins operation on the lake.

Population is almost 3,500.

1901 World sculling championship is held in Rat Portage between Rat Portage resident Jake Gaudaur and Australian George Towns. Towns wins.
1902 Cecelia Jeffrey Indian Residential School opens on Shoal Lake.

St. Joseph’s Hospital is opened by the Sisters of Providence of Montreal.

Lake of the Woods Yacht Club is organized.

1904 Navigation buoys installed along the Winnipeg River to aid marine traffic anticipated to support the coming construction of the new National Transcontinental Railway.

Name of Rat Portage changes to Kenora.

Double tracking of the CPR begins. Completed in 1910.

Population is 5,000.

1906 Eastern outlet power plant is enlarged.
1907 Kenora Thistles win the Stanley Cup.

The sister townships are joined to form Jaffray and Melick.

Road from Melick Township to Redditt is laid out.

First time women can vote in the municipal election.

Rediscovery of Fort St. Charles.

Keewatin is incorporated as a town.

1909 By-law is passed to use numbers on streets instead of names. Houses are also numbered at this time.

Tourist Hotel (Kenricia) opens.

Court House is completed.

1911 The Winnipeg River Crossing of the National Transcontinental Railway becomes known as Minaki and welcomes the first passenger train service from Winnipeg.
1912 New Kenora Fire Hall is built after disastrous January fire.  This building is the current site of the modern Lake of the Woods Brewing Company.
1913 Kenora Highschool is built.

The Kenora Fish Market is 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.The 350 guest Minaki Inn, built by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, opens for business.


One-room log cabin school is built in Black Sturgeon district.

The Ukrainian Literary Society forms.

Clock is installed in Post Office tower.

1916 Kenora Public Library is built.

Present St. Alban’s Cathedral is constructed.

The first paid fire chief is hired by the Town of Kenora.

Zion Methodist Church burns down and joins Knox Presbyterian to become Knox United.

1918 Hudson’s Bay Company store closes.

The first seaplane to fly over central Canada stops in Kenora.

The Thistle Rink is built.

Construction of pulp and paper mill starts. Owned by Backus and Brooks.

1922 Golf Club is founded.

Kenora cenotaph is unveiled in Memorial Park.

Production of paper begins at paper mill.

Golf Clubhouse built.


Population is 7,500.

Minaki Inn burns down the day before it is to open for the season; new 9 hole Stanley Thompson Golf Course opens.

1926 Lakeside toboggan slides and ski jump opens.
1927 The CNR opens new 200 guest Minaki Lodge.
1928 Jail built on Laurenson Lake.
1929 Cecelia Jeffrey Indian Residential School is re-located to Round Lake.
1930 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.

Completion of the Ontario-Manitoba section of the Trans Canada Highway.

New highschool is 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.

1936 Argyle II replaces the original.
1937 Salvation Army Citadel is built.

Maple Leaf Flour Mill burns down and is not rebuilt.

Kenora District Camp Owners’ Assocation forms.

1939 Brief Royal visit in Kenora as King and Queen travelled west on the CPR; thousands of people flocked to Redditt to see the Royals on their trip East on the CNR.

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

Population is 8,200.

1946 Ice palace built on Main Street for Winter Carnival.
1949 The bridge over the western outlet of the Winnipeg River is completed.

Rabbit Lake School constructed.

Kenora Thistles hockey team play exhibition games in Japan.

B’nai Brith Camp established on Town Island.

Hurricane Hazel hits the region.

1955 Flour mill in Keewatin is bought by Ogilvie’s.
1957 Kenora’s 75th Anniversary.
1958 Ontario Hydro generating stations at White Dog and Caribou Falls begin operation.
1961 Minaki Highway opens.
1963 Beaver Brae Secondary School opens.
1964 Lake of the Woods Museum is established.

March of Indigenous People regarding issues of job discrimination, housing, violence against them, alcoholism, and a new relationship with the Town

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

Population is 11,200.


Husky the Muskie constructed for McLeod Park.

Keewatin flour mill is destroyed by fire and is not rebuilt.

Kenora Fellowship Centre opens.


Kenora Recreation Centre opens.

Kenora General Hospital and St. Joseph’s Hospital merge to form the Lake of the Woods District Hospital.

1969 The school boards of Jaffray and Melick, Norman, Keewatin, and Kenora amalgamate.
1970 Post Office and other government offices move to new federal building on Railway Street.
1972 St. Mary’s Indian Residential School closes.
1973 The Human Bomb bank robbery at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Canada.

Cecelia Jeffrey Indian Residential School closes.

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

Kenora Shoppers Mall opens.

Anicinabe Park Occupation.


Indoor Pool at Kenora Recreation Centre opens.

New curling rink replaces older one.

1976 Ne-Chee Friendship Centre is established.
1978 Old Post Office is designated a heritage building.
1979 Governor-General Ed Schreyer and family visit Kenora.
1982 Kenora celebrates its centennial year.
1985 The last log boom is towed into town.

Kenora Harbourfront development is completed.

New Lake of the Woods Museum opens.

1988 Jaffray and Melick becomes a town.
1990 Jaffray and Melick’s name shortened to Jaffray-Melick.
2000 Amalgamation of Kenora, Keewatin, and Jaffray- Melick to form the city of Kenora.

Trus Joist starts production of Timberstrand.

Royal Lake of the Woods Yacht Club celebrates its 100th Anniversary with a royal visit by Prince and Princess Michael of Kent.

Minaki Lodge burns down, after the season, on the Thanksgiving weekend.

2005 Newly expanded Kenora Recreation Centre opens.
2006 Abitibi-Consolidated closes their paper mill in Kenora after 82 years in operation
2007 Property on Tunnel Island is transferred to the City of Kenora and Grand Council Treaty #3. The two groups intended to form the Common Ground Working Group to administer the property.
2008 Kenora downtown revitalization project, “The Big Spruce”, begins
2009 Kenora Paper Mill’s former sulphite plant demolished
2012 Opening of the Whitecap Pavilion
2014 The Lake of the Woods Museum celebrates its 50th anniversary.
2017 Kenora hosts Sportsnet Hockey Day in Canada.
2019 The Lake of the Woods Museum rebrands as The MUSE, a name that incorporates the Lake of the Woods Museum and the new Douglas Family Art Centre.
2020 Kenora Makwa Patrol is established.