blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Day 9: in Rat Portage Bay

Kenora, with waterfront pavilion
The native people call this neck of the woods "the place where there are rats" (i.e. muskrats) and the early explorers and settlers from Britain therefore called it Rat Portage which didn't look too good on the bags of flour milled in the settlement; they changed the name to Kenora. Chris and I are spending two nights and a day here before flying on again tomorrow (we haven't quite determined in which direction).

The Wednesday market inside the pavilion

Gold mining diorama
Anyhow, we found a good restaurant for our evening meals, Dino's, serving Greek dishes, and lived on snacks for the rest of the day. We kept walking up and downhill into town and back, which took about 15 minutes each way, and I swam for a while in the outdoor pool at the hotel, so we must have had plenty of exercise, though most of the day we seem to have spent just sitting, watching the world go by. Most of the Kenora world was at the Farmers Market within the lakeside pavilion this morning, because it's a Wednesday. Shoppers were buying soaps, potted jams, elk jerky, fruit and veg and gluten free scones. Hand crafted gifts and paintings by local artists were on sale too. On other occasions I presume they have concerts in the pavilion which boasts a stage at one end. We looked round the Lake Of The Woods museum too, where there was a birchbark canoe on display, as well as old wedding dresses and skates and household equipment, photos of the boating parties a hundred years ago and a diorama of a scene from a gold mine.

Later, taking an afternoon cruise on the MS Kenora, we learned from the commentator that there were 20 gold mines near here at one time, all their waste dumped in this bay. He pointed out Huskie the Muskie, the giant fish sculpture in the lakeside car park, and the hospital on Coney Island to which everyone had to be rowed, originally. This institution was founded by the Grey Nuns of Manitoba. He mentioned a tug boat that hauled logs into Safety Bay near the mouth of the Winnipeg river and the 4 billion year old granite rocks on the shore.

As we sailed along in the sunshine we saw eagles soaring overhead, that had nests in the pine trees. Since the 1900s this lake has been a "playground for cottagers" --- in 1903 Princess Patricia had a yacht club built on one of the islands, with four tennis courts. On other islands lived the people of the first nations; a totem pole used to stand on the Isle of Pine, but it has gone. Another island or two used to belong to the churches who would organise youth camps on them, the materials for the buildings being hauled across by truck during the winter when the lake turned to ice. We turned back towards town and sailed through Devil's Gap narrows with the wind in our faces and sun on our backs, the ship's snack bar offering the passengers walleye burgers, the day's special, or poutine.

At the end of today, which happens to be our wedding anniversary, we set up a successful Skype link on Chris' iPad, and managed to talk to our Australian-Chinese grandson having his breakfast in Sydney and naming things--and us!--in Chinese.

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