FACTS AND HISTORY ABOUT MORSON, ONTARIO, CANADA

When you arrive in Morson, you are only a step away from vast tracts of unspoiled islands, forests, and fine fishing, hunting and beautiful scenery on Lake of the Woods. This is the land of spectacular sunsets and northern lights displays.

Here lies a wilderness experience where you can enjoy the fresh air and solitude. Witness wildlife in its natural habitat. Appreciate both the gentleness and the ruggedness of a unique environment.

At the turn of the century, the area that is now known as Morson was a vast forest. The earliest known inhabitants of the Morson area were the Ojibway Indians. They depended on the generosity of nature for wild game, fish and fur. Blueberries and wild rice were among their staples. Many of their material goods were made from birch bark and leather.

Centuries old Indian rock paintings on Lake of the Woods stand as remnants of the area’s earliest inhabitants. They are believed to be 800 – 900 years old, Indian rock paintings on Lake of the Woods still mystify historians and chemists. Even though the art is considered primitive, the materials used by the early artists to create it have not been equaled in modern times as evidenced by their durability through centuries of exposure to the climate. On an overhanging cliff on Painted Rock Island is one of many sites of the rock paintings that are known to exist on Lake of the Woods. They can be viewed from a boat in the channel between Painted Rock Island and Splitrock Island.

French fur traders arrived in the late 1600’s. By 1731, Lake of the Woods was part of a busy water route between Winnipeg and Lake Superior, but settlement and development of the Morson area would not begin until more than 150 years later.

As the 1800’s came to a close, land grants offered by the government attracted Scandinavian settlers. The need to clear land in accordance with the guidelines of the grants was the impetus for a timbering industry and the emergence of a small agricultural community in and around the Morson and Bergland communities. A surveyor noted in 1908 that "the overland route to Morson was, in some places, little more than a footpath through the swamps."

The busy water route carried passengers from Kenora via Lake of the Woods to ports along the Rainy River. Lumber companies used the route for towing logs. It was the lumber companies who complained that night travel on the lake was nearly impossible. In response, the Tomahawk Island Lighthouse was built in 1900. Lighthouse keepers operated the lighthouse until 1946, when it was converted to automatic equipment. In 1963, it was sold to the Pentney family and moved to its present location at the end of Lighthouse Road. The lighthouse has been restored and converted to a museum with artifacts pertaining to early lake travel.

The era of the steamships moved to a close when the railroads came through. Sometime between 1910 and 1920 the first tourist resort was established on Cedar Island. During the early years, their guests were boated to the island from the town of Rainy River. In 1929, a year after Morson was incorporated a road was built to Taylor Bay. During the next decade, several resorts were established, and tourism gained a firm foothold in the Morson economy.

In the early 1940’s, highway #621 was extended to its present day terminus at the Government Dock at the end of Hanson’s Bay. Hydroelectricity was installed in 1952 and the telephone service in 1964.

In 1997 the Townships of Morson and McCrosson-Tovell amalgamated to form our present municipal boundaries, Lake of the Woods Township. The annexation of a portion of the islands on Lake of the Woods was incorporated into those municipal boundaries in 1998.

The new millennium has brought the construction of two new bridges on highway #621, one to cross the Big Grassy River and the other to cross Eleanor Lake to bring you to the heart of Morson. Morson isn’t very big – there are only about 200 residents that live here year-round. Although there are no busy shopping malls, four-lane highways or tall skyscrapers, we offer a wonderful world away from the hustle and bustle of mainstream life.

What makes Lake of the Woods so great? It’s shorelines and islands are largely undeveloped. Travelers can marvel at much of the same scenery that the first explorers saw when they discovered this island-studded gem in the center of the continent.

Lake of the Woods is considered North America’s other Great Lake. With over 14,000 islands and more than 40,000 miles of shoreline, Lake of the Woods has evolved into a premier outdoor recreation area for anglers, hunters, boaters and nature lovers. Its rocky shores, marshy inlets and sandy bays are habitats suitable for many species of fish. The area of the lake near Morson offers some of the best angling to be found anywhere.

Bypassed by major highways and located at the end of a secondary hard-surfaced road, Morson is truly "off the beaten path."

Muskie, walleye, smallmouth bass, northern pike, crappie and perch are only minute’s way in Miles Bay, Obabikon Lake and Sabaskong Bay. You’re close to the clear deep water for lake trout in Whitefish Bay.

Best of all, when you fish Lake of the Woods from Morson, you are in the island belt of the lake where sheltered bays offer protection from the wind. Fishing on Lake of the Woods from Morson is truly fishing at its finest.

To ensure that the Ontario fisheries remain healthy and can maintain a sustainable harvest, a team made up of tourism, Ontario residents and the Ministry of Natural Resources set limits the catch and possession limits of the various species of fish. They establish closed seasons and provide sanctuaries for spawning. They often change from year to year to ensure the fishery. Regulation booklets are available at licence issuers. Be sure you know the current regulations and size restrictions.

Anglers are encouraged to practice catch-and-release. A non-resident conservation licence may be purchased at a reduced price. The limits are lower than that of a regular licence, but still permit you to take a few fish home and to enjoy our famous shorelunches.

Just as the earliest inhabitants depended upon the bounty of the land and the water, today’s sportsmen will find the area teeming with fish and wildlife.

Lake of the Woods is truly a sportsman’s paradise. Wild rice bays are feeding grounds for migrating birds and the duck hunting here is among the finest in the world. Flocks of mallards and teal, wood ducks and rafts of bluebills are available to the sure-eyed hunters. There are geese, too. Relatively rare to the area just a decade ago, they continue to increase in number. Grouse are plentiful and are sport for the small game hunters who seek them out.

Moose, deer and bear roam the forests of the islands and the mainland. Deer, attracted by the farmers’ fields, are especially populous on the mainland. Deer and bear are hunted on both the mainland and islands. If you are planning a hunting trip, make reservations early, as the hunt is limited.

Moose hunters are also advised to make their reservations well in advance. The only moose hunting available to non-residents is on the Aulneau Peninsula where primitive weapons must be used. The number of hunters that are allowed each season is limited. The Aulneau Peninsula is vast area of undeveloped wilderness in the approximate centre of Lake of the Woods. It has been designated as a Wildlife Management Unit where hunting big game is restricted. Only bows and arrows and black powder rifles may be used. The Peninsula is a challenge, not only because of the requirements for primitive weapons, but because of its size and rough terrain.

While remnants of logging, farming, commercial fishing and trapping remain; Morson’s future depends upon its well-established tourism industry. Our resorts are still called camps and their cooks, camp cooks, a throwback from earlier years when the first tourist resorts were opened. Guests stayed in log cabins that were heated by wood and didn’t have the benefits of running water and indoor bathroom facilities.

The kitchen facilities were primitive by today’s standards. Early camp cooks used wood to fuel their stoves and ovens. Ice, harvested during the winter and stored in layers of sawdust, was used in old-fashioned iceboxes for refrigeration. In today’s resort kitchens, you can find walk-in coolers and freezers, microwave ovens, large bread mixers and food processors.

There is one thing that hasn’t changed over the years. The smell of fresh baked bread and rolls, hearty servings of carefully prepared food and tastes that will make your tongue tap-dance are still trademarks of the camp cooks. Dining rooms and restaurants frequently feature samples of local fare: desserts made from blueberries in season or wild rice soups and casseroles.

An unforgettable Lake of the Woods tradition you won’t want to miss is a famous shorelunch. Nothing can compare to the taste of freshly caught fish cooked over an open fire and served with all the trimmings.

Today, the thriving community attracts thousands of visitors each year. We welcome you to come and experience Morson, located on the very edge of the untamed wilderness. We have the facilities and services of over thirty businesses, which operate within the Lake of the Woods Township. Whether your are in our community for business or pleasure, our aim is to make your stay a pleasant one. Morson’s immediate access to vast wilderness areas and its outdoor recreational activities have made it an increasingly popular vacation spot. You will find a visit to Morson, "good for the spirit and good for the soul".


  Island splendor, Feel it!