Monday, July 11, 2011

Rat Portage

This past Friday, I took a trip out to Kenora to tour Lake of the Woods aboard the M.S. Kenora. As anyone who knows me would expect, en route, I put my camera through a more strenuous workout than the engine of the bus that took us there and the entire route between Winnipeg and the former Rat Portage was photographically carpet bombed.

Those shots will make their way to in good time, but there were three particularly noteworthy shots among the 400 I took on our eastbound trek.

This is the Greater Winnipeg Water District railway crossing that follows the Aqueduct from Shoal Lake, which delivers water to the taps of thirsty Winnipeggers. Even our bus driver, who has passed by this way countless times, wasn’t aware of the significance of this crossing. The crossing is located between PTH 11 (Hadashville) and Prawda if you’re heading out that way.

This next shot shows the end of the divided highway as we leave the Socialist People’s Republic of Manitoba and enter Dalton’s Land. Of note is that the “Welcome to Ontario” sign on the right is actually located in Manitoba.

This shot is right at the boundary and you can see the pavement color change. I wasn’t surprised, but I definitely took note that the white lines didn’t match up. I’m also curious as to why two separate King’s Highway 17 markers are needed in such close proximity.

The rumble strips on the Manitoba side are carried forward into Ontario later on, but Manitoba takes it a step further on the undivided portion of PTH 1 east of Falcon Lake. Just as is done through Headingley, rumble strips were added on either side of the yellow lines in the middle of the highway. It’s an excellent safety feature and I applaud the highway ministries of both Manitoba and Ontario for adding them.

I had heard that King’s Highway 17 was in the process of being twinned from the Manitoba border to Rat Portage, but, instead, several passing lanes were added on this busy and treacherous two-lane highway. It’s better than nothing and I know it’s not easy building highways through the Canadian Shield, but this is something that governments should be spending our money on, not what Manitoba is doing by footing the entire bill for a football stadium that doubles as a saloon. This is a vital transportation link that got some attention, but it needs more.

Our first stop upon reaching Rat Portage was the Blue Heron gift shop, but I instead took the opportunity to get some shots around the scenic city.

This shot shows the Lakeside Inn, and for the hockey historians out there, this is where the Winnipeg Jets stayed during their first training camp that was held in Kenora in 1972. Kenora, as the placemats on our tables aboard the M.S. Kenora proudly told us, is the home of the 1907 Stanley Cup champions.

Just like downtown Winnipeg, they have ratmobiles in Kenora as well.

There are many murals in Kenora and this is one of them. You know you’re not in Winnipeg anymore when you see a nice mural not covered in graffiti.

At last, it was time to board the boat and our group had the entire main level to ourselves. We were served a meal that was surprisingly decent while listening to various mumblings from the captain. I later learned that he was speaking clearly into a P.A. system that must have been taken from the since-demolished Winnipeg Arena, a building made notorious by its bad sound system. I would have liked to have heard what he had to say, but alas, it was all lost in the translation.

Someone at our table asked for a knife, and I made the remark that, in light of all the stabbings in Winnipeg, you have to be careful about any Winnipegger asking for a knife.

After finishing the meal, I headed to the top deck, where I enjoyed the rest of the cruise.

These are nice shots, but no camera can do justice to the scenery in this part of the world. It just has to be experienced in person.

I took a lot of shots, but I had to put my camera away for a while and take it all in. If you’ve never been on this cruise, it’s well worth the time, money, and effort.

On Monday, there was an article in the Liberal Party of Canada’s daily publication that details the potential demise of the M.S. Kenora. It would be a shame to see this attraction disappear, so if you’re so inclined, you might want to take this cruise this summer.

On our way back to Rat Portage, we passed by Devil’s Island, where Aboriginal people drew an image of the devil on a rock. It looks like Charlie Chaplin if you ask me.

This shot shows Kenora from a distance as we near the end of the cruise.

This shot shows the town icon, Husky the Muskie, that’s located just off the highway as you pass the hospital on your way to downtown.

After the boat arrived safely back at Kenora Harbor, it was time for us to get back on the bus that would take us back to the degenerate capital of the Socialist People’s Republic of Manitoba.

Once again, I filled up the SD card in my camera with a few hundred more shots that will also be headed for in time. It was an extremely long day, and the heat didn’t help, but it was a fantastic experience that I’m glad I had.

My thanks to Jack, our bus driver, for getting us there and back safely, and to Roswitha, our tour director, for another pleasurable experience.

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