We all know Fort Frances is the gateway to Northwestern Ontario and, as such, the town plays a key role in projecting a positive “first impression” to tourists coming to enjoy our beautiful area—whether streaming across the border or travelling the Highway 11/71 corridor.
The cornerstone of that, of course, is being welcoming by nature.
It’s difficult to fathom, then, that the Fort Frances signs greeting motorists at both the east and west ends of town were designed without any indication of “welcome” on them—and equally mind-boggling that it’s taken some 18 months to rectify this glaring omission!
Yes, the backs of the signs convey thanks for coming and invite travellers to please come again. Why no one thought to put “Welcome to” on the front of them is incomprehensible.
Fortunately, that oversight will be corrected soon after town council agreed Monday night to a recommendation by the Economic Development Advisory Committee to add “Welcome to” both signs.
The change is long overdue but at least the right decision was made in the end.
Maybe now, attention will turn to those horrible-looking panels gracing the mill’s “Lap” building that greet visitors coming over the international bridge.
If local residents returning home from across the border cringe at them, just imagine what U.S. tourists must think? Definitely not what you would call a “banner” first impression of our community!
Billed as a “great marketing tool” at the time, the panels—measuring eight feet wide by 24 feet high—first were installed in May, 2005 thanks to funding by some district municipalities, First Nations, the Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung Historical Centre, and the federal government.
New ones were put up in May, 2009 but clearly, seven years later, they need to be restored or replaced immediately, with the eyesores that are there removed in the interim.
“The Americans coming across the border are taking pictures of [them]. They’re impressed,” project manager Geoff Gillon had said during the official unveiling back in 2005.
That’s obviously not the case anymore.