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The 5 best sights you can only see by boat

The Rainy Lake Mermaid created by Gordon A. Schlichting.
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The 5 best sights you can only see by boat

Explore unusual sites on the lakes of Northwest Ontario

From mermaids to museums only accessible by water, this corner of the province has some of the coolest sights to see on water!



Every summer, I try to make a find some cool place to explore on one of our lakes in Sunset Country. There’s something exciting about boating down the lake and finding new things—whether it be historical, artifacts, old mining sites, great beaches or waterfalls! The lakes in our area are rich in history—Indigenous Peoples have inhabited the area for thousands of years and artifacts have been found that are 7000-8000 years old.

Here are the 5 best water-accessible attractions to see in northwest ontario

1. Rainy Lake Mermaid

The Rainy Lake Mermaid is only accessible by boat. In 1932, Gordon A. Schlichting, a Minneapolis architect, carved the mermaid while he was a student spending the summers on Rainy Lake. Located in Silver Island Narrows, near Copenhagen Island, the Mermaid watches over the comings and goings of the lake. The Mermaid sits upon a rock in the middle of beautiful Rainy Lake. Constructed out of steel rods, old boat props, and cement, the mermaid is truly a work of art.

2. West Red Lake Mining Museum

A museum only accessible by boat? Yes sir! The West Red Lake Mining Museum, which is housed in a cabin that was originally used at Bow Narrows Camp, is free to enter. The log building is actually an original cabin from the 1926 Gold Rush to Red Lake which was the third-largest in the world. The volunteers at the museum also offer a map and information on a self-guided tour of West Red Lake. Visit sites used during the Gold Rush of 1926-1940. 

Rebuilding the West Red Lake Mining Museum building log by log. 

3. Coney Island Beach

One of the most popular beaches in Kenora is Coney Island Beach. It’s very close to downtown, but you’ll need a boat or a ride to get to it. Green Adventures and legacy Tours will take you across on a shuttle. The beach is amazing and the whole family will love it! There are even homemade waffles in the summer each Sunday morning! The Coney Island Music Festival is held here at the end of each July. 

4. Devil at Devil’s Gap 

I’m not sure of the true story of the rock as there are a few different versions going around. It was painted in 1894 by two brothers as a prank and has since been repainted over the years by area residents. This rock continues to be a popular attraction as it stands guard at the opening to the Devil’s Gap, a narrow channel passed by boaters heading out on Lake of the Woods from Kenora. If you don’t have a boat of your own, go for a tour of the lake aboard the MS Kenora and you’ll catch a view of it on the way home. 

An old postcard of the Devil's Rock

5. Sable Islands

Near the south end of Lake of the Woods lies Sables Islands, an elongated barrier sandbar featuring marshes and rounded sand dunes. The dunes are part of the Sable Islands Provincial Nature Reserve. Not to be confused with Sable Island National Park east of Nova Scotia. You can walk for a long time exploring the sand dunes. Sable Island is roughly 10 km (6.2 m) long and is low enough in some parts that it becomes two or three islands in high water. Check out our guide to visiting the islands

What have you seen out on the lake? Head to our Facebook page and let us know!


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