In Kenora, the most prominent cultural venue is the downtown Harbourfront, a park on the shore of Lake of the Woods which hosts the city’s annual winter and summer festivals, as well as concert series, and other special events. This Harbourfront is also docking point for MS Kenora, a small cruise ship which offers a guided tour of the lake; and, home to the unofficial city mascot. Husky the Muskie is a 40 foot tall statue, which residents have adopted as a sort of mock reference to lake’s rich natural resources and area wildlife.
Kenora and surrounding area have far more to offer visitors than just a fish statue and a cruise around the shoreline – there is an abundance of historical influences owing to the Natives who first occupied this part of the world. Now referred to as aboriginals and Nation’s People, these special populations have always been considered the keenest of all spiritual influences in respect to cultural arts.
Some of the earliest artistic renderings in the Lake of the Woods area are in the form of ‘Native Pictographs’. In order for the early native artists to render their craft -given they had no canvas and paints- they resorted to berry juice and sap mixtures as paints and selected rocks and rock formations as their canvas. Of course they left the rest to whatever their imagination could bring forth. Some of these continue to exist today and have helped to shape and influence Nations Peoples paths to the present. Some tribes, not all, hold a belief that their ancestors spirits dwell in various objects. Some of these First Nation tribes feel very strongly about this belief and connect these native pictographs with the spirits of their ancestors. For this reason, native pictographs are often referred to as ‘Spirit Rocks’. These sacred objects are scattered all around Lake of the Woods but mostly found on the shorelines. There are no roads leading to any of these Spirit Rocks and as such are only accessible by boat. We encourage everyone to journey around Lake of the Woods by boat and you will get a glimpse of a number of these ancient paintings.
Location of Spirit Rocks – scattered in and about the Lake of the Woods shoreline.
How to get there – accessible only by boat, there are no roads leading to native pictographs.
Proper Etiquette – if you visit one of the area Spirit Rocks it is customary to leave behind an offering.
What Constitutes and Offering – Any small gesture given with respect such as a small bit of tobacco, a stick of gum, etc.
Heritage Townscape Murals
Long known for its rich history and cultural influences, Kenora has recently put forth funding for a number of cultural arts programs in the community. Among one of the most recognizable is the Public Arts Project in the city’s downtown core area where local artists have painted huge vivid murals on a number of buildings. A total of 21 murals have been completed to date and more are planned for the future.