Fort Frances sits on the international border with the United States where Rainy Lake narrows to become Rainy River. It is connected to International Falls, Minnesota, by the Fort Frances–International Falls International Bridge. The Fort Frances Mill was the main employer in the town until it closed in January 2014.
Fort Frances was the first European settlement west of Lake Superior and was established by French Canadian Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, sieur de La Vérendrye, first commander of the western district. In 1731 he built Fort Saint Pierre near this spot as support for the fur trade with native peoples. In 1732 his expedition built Fort Saint Charles on Magnuson Island on the west side of Lake of the Woods. After some time, Fort St. Pierre fell out of use>
In 1817, following the War of 1812 and redefinition of borders between Canada and the United States, the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) built a fort here. In 1830 HBC Chief Factor John Dugald Cameron named the fur trading post after Frances Ramsay Simpson, the 18-year-old daughter of a London merchant, who had married earlier that year in London, George Simpson, Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, who would visit the fort many times.
In June, July and August, daytime temperatures range from 25-30 °C (77-86 °F), though nights may be cool, particularly in the north. In autumn, foliage takes on fall colours towards the end of September and reaches its height in October. Medium to heavy-weight clothing is necessary, especially in November when the weather is cold and frosty. Snowfall is usually experienced through December, January and February. The snow begins to recede in March before totally disappearing in April. This is followed by warm temperatures and spring flowers in May.
- 1 Fort Frances Municipal Airport (YAG IATA) (4.1 km (2.5 mi) northwest of the town). Bearskin Airlines offers flights from Kenora, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay (Su-F, a 1-hr flight, up to $330), and Dryden.
Ontario Highways 11 and 71 (both part of the Trans-Canada Highway) run through town. It is 435 km from Thunder Bay.
The Fort Frances-International Falls Bridge (the start/end point of Ontario Highway 71) connects Fort Frances with International Falls, Minnesota, USA. U.S. Highways 53 and 71 lead up to the bridge on the U.S. side.
- North Air Taxi, ☏ .
- Gold Star Taxi & Services, ☏ .
- 1 Fort Frances Museum, 259 Scott St, ☏ . Mid May-Labour Day (includes museum, Logging Tug & Lookout Tower): 10AM-5PM daily; Sep-mid May (museum only; tug and tower closed for season): Tu-Sa 11AM-4PM. A collection of artifacts, documents, and photographs from Fort Frances and the surrounding area. Adults $4, seniors and children (5-12) $3, families $12; admission by donation Sep-mid May.
- Lookout Tower, 1011 Front Street (on the lakefront). only open in summer. 120 steps to a panoramic view. included in museum admission.
- Logging Tug Hallett, 1011 Front Street. only open in summer. Floating museum of Fort Frances' history as a logging town. included in museum admission.
- The Spry Farm, 3322 Highway 11, Devlin, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Call for an appointment. Farm visits, petting zoo: miniature donkeys, miniature horses, pygmy goats, potbelly and kune kune pigs, silkie chickens.
- 1 Sandpoint Island Provincial Park, Sandpoint Island (about 23 km east of Fort Frances, in Rainy Lake, close to the Minnesota border), ☏ . 914 ha. No visitors’ facilities. Canoeing, hiking, and nature viewing are recommended activities.
- Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship. Third weekend in July. A 4-day event with over $80,000 in prizes. Music, car show & shine.
Licences are required for fishing or hunting in Ontario and may be purchased from sports stores, tourist outfitters, hunting and fishing lodges and the Ministry of Natural Resources.
- Gartch's International Pub, 298 Scott St, ☏ . Daily 11AM-midnight. Irish pub meets dive bar. Pool tables.
- 1 La Place Rendez-Vous, 1201 Idylwild Dr, ☏ , toll-free: , fax: . Resort hotel and convention centre on the shores of Rainy Lake. Free wireless internet in all rooms. Restaurant and bar on site. From $137.
- The Sleepy Owl Downtown, 325 Scott St, ☏ . 24 rooms that include Wi-Fi, fridge, coffee maker, a free gym pass and a free continental breakfast. From $130.
|Routes through Fort Frances|
|Kenora ← Sioux Narrows ← merges with ←||N E||→ merges with → Atitokan → Thunder Bay|
|Baudette ← Rainy River ←||W E||→ Atitokan → Thunder Bay|
|Kenora ← Sioux Narrows ←||N S||→ → becomes → International Falls|