City by the Water: Kenora, Ontario, Canada


As a result of terrific geography, Canada is full of parks, waterways and small towns between it’s three coast lines. While some may be more engaging and entertaining than others, Kenora, Ontario has a reputation of being a boaters paradise. Situated near the border of the Province of Manitoba and the Province of Ontario, it’s remote by Ontario standards but located on the Trans Canada Highway, a short drive from Winnipeg.

This post is one chapter on our trip to Kenora, Lake of the Woods, Ontario, Canada. This trip allowed us to earn through Air Canada’s Aeroplan and through Starwood Preferred Guest (Marriott Bonvoy). For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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City By The Water: Kenora, Ontario, Canada

Getting to Kenora, Ontario:

The next day, we picked up our Avis Car Rental at the airport. There was a small wait of 15 minutes today thanks to only one counter attendant working. After declining the double upsell to the Dodge Challenger, and then the single upsell to the Dodge Charger, we had the keys to a new Hyundai Elantra “mid size” in hand.

We headed off down the Trans Canada through some exceptionally flat countryside for the 2.5 hour drive to Kenora, Ontario. As many Canadians will know, there is a certain rite of passage to drive across Canada. It’s something that’s usually only done once- most make the return trip through the northern United States since the price of gas is so much cheaper. Part of this trek is through some really flat terrain. Fortunately, the drive from Winnipeg to Kenora has some of the more interesting“flat” terrain. 

Pictures taken courtesy of MrsWT73 at 120km/h. Some beautiful road trip skylines as we headed eastward.

Trans Canada Highway 1

The scenery gets a bit more treed as we made our way to the Ontario border, and the home of Lake of the Woods, Ontario. 

This is the crossing of the provincial border (state line) and the arrival into Kenora, Ontario. 

Provincial Border Crossing between Manitoba and Ontario, Canada

Before we knew it, we were pulling into town.

Kenora, Ontario City Limits
Views of the City Harbour

About Kenora, Ontario:

Kenora is a unique place to visit. The lake is “North America’s Premium Boating destination” and surrounds 14,522 islands. Most of the town is surrounded around the lake and it’s features. Many of the islands are Crown land, although I did see Sotheby’s Real Estate marketing a few private islands for around $2.5 million. In some ways, it reminded me of a forested version of the Maldives without the sandy beaches. Here’s a blow up photograph from the map of the Best Western. Kenora is located in the top center of the map. 

Any old school map wouldn’t be the same without the newer school digital version. It really highlights the amount of water around the town and the places you could access with a boat.

According to the visitor guide, Kenora was first inhabited back in 1880 as a town called Rat Portage. The town played a role in the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railing by providing railway ties for the tracks across the prairies. 

Walking Around Kenora, Ontario:

The town of Kenora is an easy one to walk around in and made for some great photographic opportunities with its historic buildings. Some of the buildings have been nicely restored. Others have been blessed as buildings that people have simply forgotten about. 

Leafy Streets with Historic Buildings
Waterfront Brick Bars and Offices
Signs lost from another vintage
The Town Public Library
City Hall
Town Streets
The Gateway to Town

There’s water all throughout the town:

Being the gateway to the islands, much of the town is on the water.

Local Pleasure Boats
Harbour Cruises

Even the Safeway grocery store offers tie ups for boats and docking for supplies.

Safeway Grocery Store Boat Tie Ups

There is also a large aviation component to getting around the islands. Charters were available for tours. We didn’t have the time to do one, but it would likely be a very pretty tour if the weather had good visibility. 

Air Charter Float Planes
Float Plane Docks
Local Float Planes

I’m informed that the “Chip Truck” is locally famous. It comprises of 4 locations around the Kenora area and is famous for fresh cut French fries. According to the sign, it’s been in operation since 1957. “World Famous” claims were not verified by the writer. 

The Local Chip Truck; for sale on our visit

The Town is Surrounded by Peaceful Lakes:

Kenora is a town that is surrounded by wilderness. It’s not usual to see animals roaming freely around town. 

Local Deer in Town

In addition to the wilderness, there’s some terrific beauty amongst the lakes in the area. You’d probably want to own a boat of some sort if you lived here. 

Waterways and Lakes Everywhere
A Very Scenic Area
The Land of Several Thousand Lakes
Lakes Stocked with Fish
A Peaceful Setting for a Holiday

My thoughts on our Visit to Kenora, Ontario, Canada:

All in all, we had a peaceful stay in Kenora. Despite it’s remote location, it would be the perfect boaters paradise if you were able to get here. Owning a private island here would probably be a fabulous remote adventure only a boat ride from town.

Have you ever visited peaceful Kenora, Ontario, Canada?

2 Comments on “City by the Water: Kenora, Ontario, Canada

    • Thanks Monkey’s Tale. It’s a quiet spot in Canada that sometimes doesn’t get the spotlight. It might be the travel destination this summer if things don’t clear up pandemic wise!

      Liked by 1 person

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