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Lake of the Woods boating crowd uplifted by repairs to marine railway (updated)

Province spending $800,000-plus to upgrade boat transfer by summer
Turtle Portage Marine Railway 2
(Greg Rickford Facebook photo)

The Ontario government is spending $821,686 to fix the Turtle Portage Marine Railway on the eastern half of Lake of the Woods in northwestern Ontario.

Considered an important piece of recreational infrastructure to the boating public, the marine railway will be "upgraded to improve its functionality, safety, and reliability," according to a provincial news release.

A spokesperson for Kenora-Rainy River MPP and Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry Minster Greg Rickford said a contract was awarded to a Thunder Bay construction company, Tom Jones Corporation, and KGS Group, an engineering and project management consulting company, to make "substantial upgrades" to the railway, its boat cart, the transfer mechanism, and the walkways.

Off-site work is already underway in preparation for construction to take place at the site by spring. The crossing should be ready for boaters to use by summer, the province said.

According to the Merx website, the marine railway is a hand-operated, mechanical boat transfer facility, owned and operated by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.

The site, accessible only by boat, allows the public to transfer boats over land between Whitefish Bay and Sabaskong Bay, providing a "shortcut" that eliminates a 150-kilometre detour around the Aulneau Peninsula.

"Turtle Portage is an iconic landmark on Lake of the Woods and that’s why our government is proud to ensure that boaters can safely use this overland crossing for many years to come," said Kenora-Rainy River MPP and Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry Minster Greg Rickford in the release.

"I believe it's an important historical tradition that is an asset to our region and should be maintained," said Wayne Helliar, owner of Helliar's Resort in Nestor Falls, in a statement..

"Historically, Turtle Portage has been a critical piece of transportation infrastructure for the eastern parts of Lake of the Woods," added Sioux Falls-Nestor Falls Mayor Norbert Dufresne.