Sometimes the connections we make on our trip are wonderfully obscure. Take Kenora for example; we decided to stop there our way through northern Ontario because my friend Allieren’s friend Lindsay asked her friend Steve to take us fishing on his boat. Who could pass up an opportunity like that?
We started the day off at Kenora’s brand new brewery, Lake of the Woods Brewing Company, with a chilled pint of beer. The brewery’s beers are all a tribute to the history of Kenora: the Papermaker Pilsner recalls the importance of the lumber industry and paper mill (1922-2005), their Sultana Gold Ale reminisces the most profitable gold mine during the gold rush (late 1800’s), and the Firehouse Amber Ale is a tribute to the heroic fire fighters throughout the town’s history.
The brewery is located in the historic fire hall built in 1912. A large fire devastated Kenora in the 1800’s, and the town was forced to almost entirely rebuild. In subsequent years, three fire halls were lost to fires before the existing 1912 fire hall was built (and has survived). The brick and stone fire hall-turned-brewery is stunning.
From there, we were off for a day of boating and fishing. Kenora is situated on ‘Lake of the Woods,’ a large lake that possesses over 14,000 islands. Boating is such a huge part of the culture in Kenora; even the grocery store has a dock.
Steve and Lindsay toured us around the lake for the afternoon, telling us many stories of growing up on these northern waters. We stopped at Scotty’s beach to swim, at which point Steve pulled out a picnic with all the essentials: summer time refreshments, cheese and crackers, and some homemade wild rice-jalapeno deer sausage. We swam in the fresh lake water, picnicked, and sunned ourselves under the glorious Ontario sun.
Steve then brought us to Smith Camps, a collection of cabins people can rent for outdoor excursions such as fishing, boating, and hunting. We arrived just as Al, one of the owners, was filleting and de-cheeking pickerel.
As we entered the restaurant, we were met by dozens of taxidermied animals, all who seemed to meet our gaze no matter what angle we approached from.
We enjoyed a full pickerel (or walleye, as it is often called locally) dinner as well as some smoked whitefish to start.
After our meal, we put our fishing licenses and top-notch skills to use and went casting for pickerel.
Lindsay was the highest reeler of the day, receiving points for catching the most fish, the biggest fish, AND the greatest diversity in species (she caught a bass, too!). I caught one fish, but it flopped out of my hands and back into freedom before I could add it to the count. You win this one, Anderson.
I’ve spent many years listening to Allieren talk of the wonders of Kenora, and I must say, Kenora delivered. We had an incredible day on the water, compliments of two people who love their city and were eager to share it with a couple of travelling souls. Many thanks to Lindsay and Steve for giving us an unforgettable summertime-in-Kenora experience.