Ontario Premier John P. Robarts joined on the speakers stand at the West End Community Park Wednesday, by D. J. Sleeman, Patrick Ried M.P.P., Mayor Almo Marshall, Dr. E. S. Rogers, curator Ethnology Branch, Royal Ontario Museum, Mrs. Anna Smith, historian, Historical Branch, Toronto, former M.P.P. William Noden, Carl F. Schubring and David Hughes Sr.
The occasion was the official unveiling of the Fort Frances Canal Historic Plaque.
Mr. Sleeman, as chairman, introduced the Honourable John F. Robarts following the Fort Frances Mayor's welcoming remarks.
The premier commented on the new faces in the provincial parliament and the need to acquaint many members of the vast Northwestern Ontario region and its problems. He took the occasion to remark on past achievements and looked to the people of the region for their present needs.
John M. Ried, the Kenora-Rainy River member of parliament was unable to attend due to work in Ottawa.
Patrick Reid, provincial member, said the elected representatives were making this tour as part of their continuing education into the needs and potential of this district.
W. G. "Bill" Noden, M.P.P. from 1951 to 1967, recalled his boyhood days of fishing in the river, the fine catches, and the boat Itasca, which sank every time it turned due to overloading. He looked forward to the day when the Rainy River waterway and canal could be used for pleasure boating.
For historical background surrounding the plaque Mr. Sleeman introduced Carl F. Shubring, calling him "the most knowledgeable in local history."
Dr. E. S. Rogers, curator Ethnology Branch, Royal Ontario Museum, represented the Archaeological and Historic Sites Branch of the Ontario government. He said placement of such plaques has come about due to the increased interest shown by local citizens and visitors alike in the history of the area. He made a brief outline of the work of the government agency. He also thanked the Chamber of Commerce for their interest, action and organization of the occasion.
Mrs. Anna Smith, with the department of Public Records and Archives, thanked the many school children in attendance for their patience in the warm sun. She then read the inscription on the plaque.
"Fort Frances Canal 1878
Constructed 1875-1878, during Alexander MacKenzie's administration, as part of a larger project intended to improve communication with the West, the Fort Frances Canal provided unbroken communication between Rainy Lake and Lake of the Woods. In conjunction with land and water stretches of the "Dawson Road" between Lake Shebandowan and Lake of the Woods, it provided a temporary connection with completed sections of the C.P.R. The importance of the canal diminishes when the C.P.R. route was altered to follow a more northerly direction. The nearby waterway facilitated steamship navigation until 1908, when it was incorporated into the adjacent dam and power development.
Archaeological and Historical Sites Board of Ontario."
David G. Hughes, Sr., was then called upon to properly unveil the plaque which had been shrouded in a purple velvet hood.