The Lake of the Woods Museum’s exhibits are arranged according to a rough timeline, beginning with an intriguing collection of aboriginal artifacts, including colourful bead work, quill work, embroidery, jingle dresses, ceremonial pipes, birch bark and willow baskets, accented with photographs of the area’s first inhabitants.
The importance of the fur trade, followed by the Kenora town settlement (then called Rat Portage), and the steamboat era on Lake of the Woods are depicted with trade goods, photographs, and boat models.
The second exhibit level focuses on the everyday home and social life between 1890 and 1920, a time of tremendous growth of the town of Kenora. Sitting room, kitchen, and bedroom vignettes are set off with exhibits featuring china, silverware, local schools, war service, women’s period dress, household goods, and souvenir ware.
Large display photographs illustrate what the area looked like one hundred years ago and what life was like when a day at Coney Beach involved crowds of people, when a fishing catch meant hundreds of pounds of trout, and when there were more birds found decorating hats than nesting in trees.
Lastly, the industrial development of town is featured on the third level of exhibit space. Lumbering, mining, water power, flour milling, and lake transportation were vital to the area’s development. A diorama of the lake’s most successful gold mine, the Sultana; photographs of boat building and store interiors; Lake of the Woods Brewery artifacts; medical devices; and outboard motors are just a sampling of what’s on display.