Historical Plaques of
Rainy River District

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The next plaque was sent in by Bill Martin

PLAQUE #1

Location: along Highway 11 in the town of Rainy River,
at the site of the former Railway Station

THE CANADIAN NORTHERN RAILWAY
Incorporated in 1899 under the leading railway promoters Sir William Mackenzie and Sir Donald Mann, the Canadian Northern undertook construction of a line from Winnipeg to Port Arthur. Avoiding Lake of the Woods, the rail line left Manitoba at Sprague, crossed a small portion of Minnesota, and re-entered Canada at Rainy River. Construction of a rail bridge at Rainy River in 1902 coincided with completion of the railway to Lake Superior. By 1906 the Canadian Northern had acquired rail lines and traffic rights to the east coast, and in 1915 reached Vancouver, thus becoming a transcontinental line. It played a significant role in the development of northwestern Ontario and the Prairies. The line eventually formed part of the Canadian National Railway.

Erected by the Archaeological and Historic Sites Board,
Ministry of Colleges and Universities

The next 2 plaques were sent in by Linda Huckell

PLAQUE #2

Location: on 3rd St. West, one block west of Central Ave. in Fort Frances

LAC LA PLUIE HOUSE

1818 – 1903

The Hudson’s Bay Company established Lac La Pluie House on this site to compete for furs with the North West Company’s Fort Lac La Pluie. After the two companies merged in 1821 only Lac La Pluie continued in operation. It was renamed Fort Frances in 1830 after a visit by HBC Governor Sir George Simpson and Lady Frances Simpson. The post traded with local Ojibwa for furs, wild rice and isinglass (obtained from sturgeon). An important supply depot for expeditions traveling to the West and for early settlers in the district, Fort Frances became a Hudson’s Bay Company store in 1898 and was destroyed by fire in 1903.

Ontario Heritage Foundation,
an agency of the Government of Ontario

PLAQUE #3

Location: in Pither’s Point Park, Fort Frances

SIEUR DE LA VERENDRYE

1685 – 1749

Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, Sieur de La Verendrye, was born at Trois Rivieres and saw military service in North America and Europe before entering the fur trade. While stationed at Lake Nipigon in 1727, he heard stories of the “Western Sea“ which, Indians said, lay somewhere beyond Lake of the Woods. During the next twenty years, in attempting to reach this sea, he personally explored much of what is now northwestern Ontario, southern Manitoba and North Dakota, and directed the exploration of an even larger area. Throughout this territory he established numerous important fur-trading posts, including St. Pierre on Rainy Lake, St. Charles on Lake of the Woods and La Reine on the Assiniboine River.

Erected by the Archeological and Historical Sites Board,
Department of Public Records and Archives of Ontario

The next 4 plaques were sent in by Pam Hawley, Curator, Fort Frances Museum

PLAQUE #4

Location: On the bank of the lower Rainy River in the Legion Park
off of Kings Highway West, Fort Frances

FORT FRANCES CANAL
Constructed 1875-78, during Alexander MacKenzie's administration as part of a larger project to improve communications in the West, the Fort Frances canal provided unbroken communications in the West, the Fort Frances canal provided unbroken communication between Rainy Lake and Lake of the Woods, it provided temporary connection with completed sections of the CPR. The importance of the canal diminished when the CPR route was altered to follow a more northerly direction. The nearby waterway facilitated steamship navigation until 1908, when it was incorporated into the adjacent dam and power development.

Erected by the Ontario Heritage Foundation

PLAQUE #5

Location: In Pither's Point Park, East Fort Frances

FORT ST. PIERRE
The first post on Rainy Lake was Fort Tekamanigan, built by Robutel de la Noue in 1717, but soon abandoned, probably because of Sioux hostility. In 1731, Sieur de Lajemaraye, Laverendrye's nephew and lieutenant, constructed Fort St. Pierre at the south-west end of the lake where it drains into Rainy River. As one of the "postes de la mer de l'ouest" it served as a trading post and base for La Verendrye's westward explorations. Fort St. Pierre was abandoned by the French about 1758 during the course of the Seven Year's War.

Erected by the Ontario Heritage Foundation

PLAQUE #6

Location: On The Rainy Lake Lookout on the Noden Causeway Hwy. 11,
6.5 kms south of Fort Frances

JACQUES DE NOYON 1668 - 1745
Born at Trois Riviers and brought up at Boucherville, Jacques de Noyon, explorer, fur trader and soldier, set out in 1688 for Lake Superior. He ascended the Kaministiqua River, the first European known to have explored this route to the northwest. Near Fort Frances he established a post where he passed the winter, and then pushed on to Lake of the Woods where he traded with the Assiniboine Indians. From them he learned of the route to the Red River. Returning to Montreal in 1689, he made a report on this route which was of value to later exploers, particularily Pierre de Laverendrye in 1732.

Erected by the Ontario Heritage Foundation

PLAQUE #7

Location: At the foot of Keating Ave., Fort Frances

FORT LAC LA PLUIE OR RAINY LAKE HOUSE
Erected on or near this site some time between 1775-87 by the Northwest Company, and abandoned in 1821 at the time of the union with the Hudson's Bay Company. The establishment included "Athabaska House" the depot where, owing to the distances to be covered during the short travelling season the traders from Montreal met those from the Athabaskan country and exchanged lading with them.

Erected by the Ontario Heritage Foundation

PLAQUE #8

Location: At the entrance to Atikokan Public Library behind the Centennial Museum, Burns and Main Streets, Atikokan

STEEP ROCK IRON RANGE
As early as 1897 the presence of hematite boulders on the shores of Steep Rock Lake led geologists to suggest that beneath its waters lay a substantial iron ore body. It was not, however, until 1938 that a drill set up on the ice by Julian Cross of Port Arthur led to actual discovery of the ore. Steep Rock Iron Mines, Ltd., formed in 1939, undertook to reach the ore by diverting the Seine River and draining the lake. Late in 1944 Steep Rock began mining, and in 1960 the Caland Ore Company also came into production. By 1964 shipments by the two companies had totalled over 33 million tonnes.

Archaeological and Historic Sites Board of Ontario

PLAQUE #9

Location: In Pither's Point Park behind a ball diamond, Fort Frances

FORT ST. PIERRE
The first post on Rainy Lake was Fort Tekamanigan, built by Robutel de La Noue in 1717, but soon abandoned, probably because of Sioux hostility. In 1731, Sieur de La Jemaraye, La Vérendrye's nephew and lieutenant, constructed Fort St. Pierre at the south-west end of the lake where it drains into the Rainy River. As one of the postes de la Mer de l 'Ouest it served as a trading post and base for La Vérendrye 's westward explorations. Fort St. Pierre was abandoned by the French about 1758 during the course of the Seven Years' War.

Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada
Commission des lieux et monuments historiques du Canada

PLAQUE #10

Location: At Quetico Provincial Park's Dawson Trail Campgrounds south off Highway 11,
48 km east of Atikokan 167 km west of Thunder Bay

THE FRENCH PORTAGE
This 3.2 km portage around rapids in the nearby French River was among the most difficult on the Kaministiquia canoe route to the west, first recorded in 1688 by Jacques de Noyon and later used extensively by French and British fur traders. After 1867, following recommendations based on S.J. Dawson's survey of 1857-59, the government improved the route for westbound settlers and for military purposes. Tugs and barges were provided on navigable waters, and horse-drawn transport on some portages. Improved for wagon traffic, 1871-72, and equipped with storehouses and shelters, 1873-74, the French Portage became a way-station on the "Dawson Route" which, owing in part to competition from American railroads, was abandoned by 1879.

Archaeological and Historical Sites Board of Ontario

PLAQUE #11

Location: A 30 min. walk to the east from the Visitor Centre at Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung
8 km east and south of Stratton (on Highway 11 at Road 617, 20 km west of Highway 71) via
3.4 km east on Highway 11, 2.9 km south on Shaw Road then 1.7 km east on Ross Road

KAY-NAH-CHI-WAH-NUNG
For thousands of years Aboriginal people have lived and gathered on the banks of the Rainy River at Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung, "place of the long rapids". Here traces of Ojibway villages are found among the burial mounds and village sites of more ancient Aboriginal peoples. Also known as Manitou Mounds, this place was at the centre of an continent-wide Aboriginal trading network. Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung is sacred to the Ojibway and to other First Peoples of North America, thus marking an enduring spirituality.

Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada
Commission des lieux et monuments historiques du Canada

PLAQUE #12

Location: In Quetico Provincial Park, near the park station
on Basswood Lake close to the international border

QUETICO - SUPERIOR
A wilderness area of unequalled beauty, Quetico - Superior has long been a focal point for recreationists and conservationists. At the turn of the century, public concern about outdoor recreation and wilderness protection in the Rainy Lake watershed led to the designation in 1909 of the Superior National Forest, the Minnesota Game Reserve and the Quetico Forest Reserve. Four years later Quetico became a provincial park. Since that time the governments of the United States, Minnesota and Ontario have worked co-operatively to ensure the preservation of Quetico - Superior as one of the world's largest international wilderness areas.

Erected by the Ontario Heritage Foundation, Ministry of Citizenship and Culture

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