And Kenora was rated #7. Seriously?
Erin Rody
By Erin Rody

Staff Writer for Ontario's Sunset Country

Last Updated: February 4, 2020

Going from bad to good: ranking from a different perspective

Recently, Carolyn Albee wrote on Expedia.ca about the cities with the most miserable winters. Kenora, in Northwestern Ontario, placed #7 on the list. 7th is not bad when you are in the top 10 of something good. But on the most miserable? That’s not such a good thing.

After reading the complete article though, I didn’t feel so bad about being seventh. You’re probably wondering why, and it’s because of Carolyn’s ranking system. She ranked her towns by these four things:

  • Average snowfall
  • Cold temperatures
  • Number of ways to stay warm
  • Worst of the Worst which is only awarded to those that hold national records

Most years we do get snow which we are thankful for - who wants to be looking at the ugly brown fields and roads without the beautiful winter snow cover?

We can also get cold, but that’s what layering is for!

The number of ways to stay warm really got to me. While it’s nice to be able to shop and have a hot chocolate, we northerners do not curl up in a ball and stay on the couch all winter. We want to get outside and enjoy the winter months! Snowmobiling, skiing, ice fishing, snowshoeing, winter hiking, cross-country skiing and the list goes on! All of these things available to do just outside our doors makes Kenora or anywhere in Sunset Country one of the BEST places to live in the winter.

Don’t believe me? Check out all there is to do in the winter around here!

Christmas tree all lit up on Main Street. Photo: Kim Pirie-Milko

Even though today is the Winter Solstice and the first official day of winter, Kenora kicks off winter by having a tree lighting ceremony in November. And, GASP, it’s outside!! No need to worry about us folks freezing though, the Lake of the Woods Museum hosts the after-party with music, hot beverages and some dainties.

When the cold and snow come varies each year. Last year people were still catching muskies on open water on Lake of the Woods in early December. This year we got a pretty good dump of snow October 26th and it stayed below freezing ever since.

Snowmobile on one of the many trails near Kenora.

Because of the vast number of lakes in the area, the lakes have to be good and frozen before most of the snowmobile trails open. Once they are groomed locals and visitors can zip around on the 1,800 kms of groomed snowmobile trails in the OFSC District 17 area. The trails are not crowded and travel through the beautiful Canadian Shield, Boreal forest and across frozen lakes.

There’s nothing quite like the taste of fresh fish in the winter. Lake trout fishing opens January 1st, but you can catch walleye earlier if the ice is thick enough to safely travel on. Many locals and resorts have ice shacks with holes in the floor so it’s almost like you’re fishing indoors. There are also portable ice shacks if you like to go to many different fishing holes or you can just grab a chair and fish in the great outdoors! Heading back to your cabin or home after a day fishing outside, having some fresh fish for dinner and then having a drink by the fire just can’t be beat.

Reese is all smiles after catching her first fish ice fishing.

Kenora has a small, but awesome ski hill where you can go downhill skiing, snowboard on the terrain park, go tubing or go cross-country skiing on the many adjacent trails. With all the snow we have, Mount Evergreen Ski Hill is already open and everyone is enjoying the early opening. 

Skating on a frozen eagle lakePerfect conditions for skating on Eagle Lake. Photo: Alyson English

You can go skating on the lakes, on the rink under the Whitecap Pavilion or inside at one of two rinks. You’ll also find boys, girls, men and women playing hockey throughout the year. Often kids will spend many hours shooting pucks on the outdoor rinks. Hockey is big in Kenora, as you may have seen in the well-run and well-attended 2017 Hockey Day in Canada. Kenora is the smallest town ever to win the Stanley Cup. Curling is another sport we participate in during the winter.

While you might not have Ed Sheeran singing to you in the trails on the way to your cabin, get dressed and head out for a winter hike. It’s especially pretty after a snowfall where the snow is still on the evergreen trees that surround you. As they say in the following clip by the @lowbrewco, “Sometimes the most difficult journeys are the most rewarding.”

The Kenora Winter Carnival is held in early March each year. This is usually Kenora’s last hurrah before Spring comes. The carnival usually starts off Friday evening with free hot chocolate, the unveiling of the winners of the snow sculptures and then fireworks over the frozen lake. The fun which includes the Great Canadian Canoe Race, a pancake breakfast and wagon rides continues for the rest of the weekend.

One of the beautiful snow sculptures at the Kenora Winter Carnival.

That’s just a few of the outdoor activities we do in the winter. Kenora also has many indoor activities to do in the winter months. The Lake of the Woods Museum puts on many events such as the “We are What We Eat” and has many rotating exhibits, there is live music at several of the restaurants and bars in town including the Lake of the Woods Brew Co.

Of course, just like Carolyn said, you can shop at one of our many boutiques or have a yummy drink at HoJoe's, but I think there’s so much more to winter in Kenora.

What do you think? According to another one of her articles, Kenora is ranked the 33rd happiest place in Canada! Have you visited Kenora in the Winter? There are so many reasons to enjoy the winter months whether you live here or just come for a visit. I’d say we’re one of the best places to live in the winter!