Communities which lose their major industry/employer often succumb to a downward spiral that inevitably drains the life out of them.
Looking back at 2017, that certainly isn't the case here.
Although completion was delayed until the fall, limiting its use before winter set in and nixing plans for a celebratory grand-opening, the new Rainy Lake Square is an eye-catching addition to downtown Fort Frances that hopefully serves to draw local residents and visitors alike for years to come.
As well, the Fort Frances Multi-Use Courts opened in August—offering added recreational opportunities for all ages to go along with all the other top-notch facilities the town already boasts.
We also had the opportunity to showcase our town and district by hosting the OFSAA boys' 'A'/'AA' hockey championship in March and then welcoming the “Canadian Coasters” in July as part of their 50th anniversary cross-Canada tour, not to mention the Metropolitan Yurij, spiritual head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Canada, who led a special service to mark the 70th anniversary of St. George's Ukrainian Orthodox Church here.
Even Premier Kathleen Wynne dropped by for a brief visit for the second-straight year.
But 2017 may be best remembered for the generosity district residents continue to show. The “Making Magic" gala hosted by the Riverside Foundation for Health Care raked in some $36,000 while "Relay For Life” raised about $27,000.
There also was the “Walk for Alzheimer's" ($10,000), Terry Fox Run ($8,500), and "Novemberfest" ($3,000), along with tremendous support for the "Stuff-A-Cruiser," "Backpack for Kids," and "Coats4Kids” initiatives.
Whether it was donating to a worthy cause, joining together to cheer on the Trevor Bonot rink at the world mixed curling championships in Switzerland or Emo native Jessie Baker on “The Bachelor Canada,” or opening our arms to new refugee families, community spirit remains alive and well in Fort Frances and Rainy River District.
It all bodes well as we forge ahead into 2018.