Lake of the Woods

Lake of the Woods (Frenchlac des Bois) is a lake occupying parts of the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Manitoba and the U.S. state of Minnesota.[3] It separates a small land area of Minnesota from the rest of the United States. The Northwest Angle and the town of Angle Township can be reached from the rest of Minnesota only by crossing the lake or by traveling through Canada. The Northwest Angle is the northernmost part of the contiguous United States. Its “northwesternmost point” served as a problematic landmark in treaties defining the international border.

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Lake of the Woods is fed by the Rainy RiverShoal LakeKakagi Lake and other smaller rivers. The lake drains into the Winnipeg River and then into Lake Winnipeg. Ultimately, its outflow goes north through the Nelson River to Hudson Bay.

Lake of the Woods is over 70 miles (110 km) long and wide, and contains more than 14,552 islands and 65,000 miles (105,000 km) of shoreline. Lake of the Woods is also the sixth largest freshwater lake located (at least partially) in the United States, after the five Great Lakes, and the 36th largest lake in the world by area.

The lake’s islands provide nesting habitats for the piping plover and large numbers of American white pelicans and as recently as the early 20th century also provided calving habitat to boreal woodland caribou. There are also several hundred nesting pairs of bald eagles in this area.

Lake of the Woods, a translation of the original French name lac des Bois, was so named from its wooded setting. However, it may have been a mistranslation of the Ojibwe name. “The earliest name we find the lake known by is that given by Verendrye in his journey in 1731. He says it was called Lake Minitic (CreeministikOjibweminitig) or Des Bois. “Islands in a River”, probably referring to the many islands found in the northern half of the lake. The other name, Lac des Bois, or Lake of the Woods, seems to have been a mistranslation.

History of SS KEENORA

SS KeenoraRainy River District, photograph taken between 1900–1909.

The steamboat Keenora was built in 1897 for passenger and cargo traffic along the Ontario‘s Lake of the Woods, where she ran successfully for over a decade, serving isolated communities on the lake as distant as Rainy River. When the Ontario and Rainy River Railway was built in 1901 traffic volumes began to decline, following the takeover of this railway by Canadian Northern Railway in 1915, the vessel was sold to a consortium of Winnipeg lawyers. Keenora was dismantled and transported in sections to Winnipeg on railroad flatcars in 1917.

Once reassembled in Winnipeg, she received an additional 30-foot (9.1 m) extension to her hull, increasing her overall length to 158 feet (48 m). For a season the ship served as a floating dance hall in downtown Winnipeg, but was later assigned to cargo and passenger traffic on Lake Winnipeg and the Red River. A total of 65 passenger cabins were constructed, and a new machinery was installed. The machinery guaranteed a speed of 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph).

The regular route started from Winnipeg, with a turnaround point located at the northern end of Lake Winnipeg, at Warren Landing on the Big Mossy Point. From Warren Landing the passengers and cargo were transferred to a smaller steamboat, which covered the last 30 kilometres (19 mi) to Norway HouseKeenora was too large to enter the shallow Nelson River.

Keenoras career ended in the 1960s when she could not meet the new maritime regulations. At first the ship was destined to be scrapped, but was salvaged to be the cornerstone of Marine Museum of Manitoba’s collections.