For Tourism Minister Monique Smith's inaugural visit to Fort William Historical Park, Fort General Manager Sergio Buonocore made a special request with the Thunder Bay weather office.

"We wanted to save you from the -40°C we've been having lately, Minister, so we put the fix in at the weather office," joked Sergio.

Indeed balmy climes were in store as Minister Smith, Deputy Minister Drew Fagan, Assistant Deputy Minister Shirley Phillips and Senior Communications Advisor Lisa DiLollo, donned heritage blanket coats before embarking upon their first visit to the Fort January 20th.

The Minister's entourage encountered a blend of the historic with the contemporary, beginning with a sleigh ride to the Native Encampment where they experienced a smudge ceremony and a sampling of bannock.   

The group also noted the variety of programming happening around them, as school and community groups were enjoying dog sled rides, sliding hills, shinny (roughly akin to field hockey) and an indoor performance provided by local singer/songwriter Rodney Brown.

The Minister also enthusiastically fired a brass cannon and chatted with Lakehead University students who were trying their hand at heritage cooking in the Historic Kitchen. The group also got to study firsthand the damage incurred from the June flood and the Fort's concerted and innovative efforts to minimize potential damage in the future.

The tour concluded by meeting Fort staff in the Great Hall and viewing videos on "Rock the Fort" and "Fort William: Hinge of a Nation."  In her remarks, the Minister praised FWHP staff for their entrepreneurial approach, innovation, dedication and determination to overcome challenges from the succession of devastating floods in recent years.