West Rainy River District

Country Living at its Best

The Rainy River District, situated in the most south-westerly portion of Northwestern Ontario, is where three eco-regions meet; the prairies to the west, the boreal forest to the north and the Great Lakes St. Lawrence forest to the south. The District, stretching along the Canada/US border on Hwy. 11, is the ideal place to live, work or start your own business.

The West Rainy River District includes the municipalities of Alberton, Morley, Lake of the Woods, Chapple, Dawson, LaVallee, Chapple and the towns of Devlin, Emo, Barwick, Bergland, Morson and Rainy River. The district is also home to many First Nations.

West of Fort Frances agricultural production includes dairy products, cow-calf operations and various crop productions. Forestry, both harvesting and production, is a major employer in the West Rainy River District. Tourism is also a major employer. Numerous hunting and fishing camps attract visitors from across North America.

The District offers all the amenities desired for a comfortable living. The warm and friendly people live a relaxed and satisfying lifestyle with superb natural treasures and exciting outdoor activities, coupled with great entertainment.

The West Rainy River District provides residents with some of the lowest cost housing in the Province of Ontario. Residents can afford waterfront properties or forested acreages.

Schools located in Rainy River, Stratton, Barwick, Emo, Devlin or Fort Frances offer education from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12. Students travelling from country homes to school are bussed at no charge.

Health care needs are met close to home in facilities located in Rainy River, Emo or Fort Frances. Both the towns of Emo and Rainy River have hospitals and medical clinics with physicians on duty.

Recreational opportunities are plentiful.The district is filled with lakes and parks allowing public access for boating, fishing, camping, picnicking and swimming.The district is home to great snowmobile trails, golf courses, an auto raceway, arenas and curling clubs.

Whether you choose to live in Emo, Devlin, Barwick, Rainy River, Morson, Alberton, LaVallee or Lake of the Woods we know you will live BETTER with us, in the West Rainy River District.


Housing options in the West Rainy River District are varied. Homes in the towns of Emo, Barwick and Rainy River are provided water and sewer services. In the smaller communities and rural areas these services are built by the owners as private services. Apartments and subsidized housing are available. Rural areas feature both farms and estates.

Many residents of the west end of the Rainy River District live on or near the water. Some even have the opportunity to purchase island properties and drive to them in the winter across frozen lakes.

Lake of the Woods, which stretches into Kenora and Minnesota, is one the world’s most sought after vacation addresses. Homes on this lake can cost millions of dollars.

Towns in the district feature banks, grocers, hardware stores, restaurants, bakeries and a variety of retail wares.

Ambulance services by airlift or land ambulance are available in case of emergencies. Hospital facilities in Rainy River and Fort Frances operate 24/7 emergency and admit patients. Family physicians and allied health professionals service the district.

Properties are generally listed by local agents:

The following newspapers frequently have realty listings:


The forestry sector hires all trades, truck drivers, machine operators and general labour.  Many individuals in the Rainy River District are self employed working in logging or farming.  Much of the land in the West Rainy River District is devoted to farming and land prices make it an affordable investment for a young family.    Residents also work in the Abitibi Bowater Mill in Fort Frances or Ainsworth Mill in Barwick.  These businesses employ skilled trades, engineers and machine operators.  Tourist camps in the district always have openings in the early spring for camp helpers, guides and cooks.  Either by self employment or working for a freight company, residents often find employment driving transportation trucks.  

Job resources and postings can be found at:

General information on the labour market can be obtained at (www.ntab.on.ca) and specific advice on finding a job in the district by emailing addresses listed at www.ncds4jobs.ca.


Primary school education is available in both the Public and Catholic systems.  The School Boards operate Junior Kindergarten to Grade 8 schools in the Rainy River District.  Rainy River High School and Fort Frances High School offer Grade 9 to 12 facilities.

Elementary education facilities are located in Rainy River, Morson, Stratton, Devlin, Emo and Barwick.  The Public School Board works with the community to operate an elementary school with particular Judeo-Christian Sensitivity in Stratton.

The Rainy River High School, with about 15 teachers and a full time Principal, offers a full array of credited courses. Students have access to courses in most fields of study through in class teaching and have the option to supplement course offerings with distance education. The school offers students a terrific opportunity to enjoy smaller class sizes and individualized instruction.

A new high school in Fort Frances was built in the late 1990’s as part of a multi use complex.  The high school is proud of its well rounded educational departments, physical education, dramatic and visual arts, sciences, technical training and languages. In addition to Ontario standard curriculum students have the opportunity to join numerous clubs, teams and groups. Students regularly have the opportunity to travel to extend the scope of their experiences.

The multi use complex also houses Contact North and Confederation College's campus. These institutions offer both in class instruction and distance education courses. Services include University level courses, skills upgrading, technical training and testing services.

Adult English as a second language (ESL) services are available at the United Native Friendship Centre in Fort Frances and all area elementary schools assist children with ESL needs.

Rainy River Community College in International Falls allows students to complete the first two years of a four year University degree or provides one or two year technical programs.

Doing Business

The District offers entrepreneurs the unique opportunity to take advantage of expanding markets in both Canada and the United States. International ports of entry located in the Town of Fort Frances and Rainy River offer quick access to US markets.

The District is home to major industries producing a variety of wood related products, from paper to oriented strand board, to custom cabinetry.

West of Fort Frances production in the agricultural community includes dairy products, cow-calf operations and grain production. At the centre of the District, the Emo Agriculture research station assists with development of new crops and cultivars.

There are 230 agricultural producers in the district, the vast majority being beef, mostly cow/calf, producers. There are about a dozen dairy farms and a few others raising elk, bison, hogs, honey and market garden produce. Most farm families have at least one member earning off-farm income.

Many communities offer financial incentives for new business development and expansion. Your business may be eligible for senior government grants or loan assistance.

Sharing a common border with Minnesota offers the entrepreneurs in the Rainy River District the very best of two nations. Companies have access to both Canadian and US markets which can be reached daily via air courier, truck services, Highway 11 and the Canadian National Railway. The Rainy River District offers excellent access to the Upper Midwest of the United States and East/West connections to the prairies and Eastern/Southern Ontario.

The Rainy River Future Development Corporation provides support and information for entrepreneurs, business owners, and new business wishing to locate to Fort Frances or the Region.


The West Rainy River District is a sportsman’s paradise. Spring, summer, fall and winter, fishing opportunities are available everywhere. Hunting for deer, birds or moose is a common past time. Boating up the Rainy River or paddling on a local lake is a beautiful way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Living where others can only choose to vacation is spectacular.

In addition to nature based sports, the District has abundant arts and cultural attractions, events and festivals. One of the District’s attractions is Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung (the Place of the Long Rapids) - an ancient site of natural beauty and spiritual significance. As an important historical site for the First Nations people, including a traditional burial ground, it became a central trading site in the development of the region. The Visitors Centre offers galleries, a gift shop and a restaurant, acting as a gateway to the experiences that are available.

The towns of Rainy River, Emo, Barwick also have museums that explain the history of the District. Bird Watching is also a fast growing hobby and areas offer world class varieties of birds.  Alberton has recently opened a Bog Walk and exploration trail. Of course with the winter’s snow brings opportunities to ski and snowmobile, trails are in place across the region.

Just some of the District’s events and festivals include:

Where We Are 
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