About Red Lake

“Norseman Capital of The World”® Red Lake is a small, Northwestern Ontario community whose history includes early native aboriginal habitation, fur trading, transportation and gold mining Archaeological discoveries provide evidence of the earliest activities here and the records of the great fur trading companies give a glimpse into the period of the first interaction in the area between Europeans and First Nations peoples. Early mineral exploration in the area culminated on July 25, 1925, in a major gold find which would instigate Canada’s last gold rush, formally create the community of Red Lake and put it into headlines around the world. One of the consequences was that Red Lake became associated with aviation in a big way. Mining promoter Jack Hammell leased 7 aircraft from the Ontario Government to get supplies into Red Lake before “freeze up”. It was the first time that aircraft had been used in the development of mining, as noted by historian J.J. Richthammer in his history of the district.

By 1936, the discovery of more mines in the area created great demands for the movement of freight by waterways, tractor trains and airplanes. Howey Bay, the site of the current Floatplane Festival, was recognized as the busiest airport in the world. Among the aircraft making more than 100 take-offs and landings daily were most early aircraft types, including Junkers giant “Flying Boxcar”.

The Noorduyn , first flown in 1935, made its way to Red Lake along with the others and gained a reputation for hard work. No one can document when Red Lake was first called “The Capital of the World”, but it was probably in the 50’s and 60’s when most of today’s airworthy s passed through Red Lake one way or another.

The title became official in 1992 when the town’s Waterfront Development Committee registered it as an Official Mark of the Township of Red Lake.

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Getting to Red Lake


Fly in to the Red Lake Airport

Red Lake is located near the Geographic Centre of Canada and is served by daily passenger flights to and from both Winnipeg and Thunder Bay. There are also scheduled and charter flights to a number of other communities north and south of Red Lake. Charter flights are done by both wheeled aircraft out of Red Lake Airport and by float planes out of Howey Bay and other locations on Red Lake itself.

Visitors may fly their own float or wheeled aircraft to Red Lake. Fuel and maintenance are available both at the Red Lake Airport and in Howey Bay. Parking is available at Red Lake Airport and, during the Festival period, expanded docking for float planes is available in and around Howey Bay.

For those flying from other countries, please call;

1-866-226-7277 (1-866-CANPASS) for more information

Alternately, visitors may contact Canada Customs at the communities of Fort Frances & Kenora, Ontario.

Fort Frances: Canada Customs (Local) (807) 274-3655 (x 240)

Kenora: Canada Customs (Local) (807) 548-5926

Driving to Red Lake

From Winnipeg: Take Highway 1 east into Ontario (changes to Highway 17) through Kenora to Vermillion Bay. Turn left on to Highway 105 at Vermillion Bay. It is 110 miles or 170 Kilometres to Red Lake.

From Thunder Bay: Take Highway 17 west through Dryden to Vermillion Bay and Turn North on to Highway 105.

From International Falls/Fort Frances: There are two options. Both are scenic and winding roads: Take Highway 71 through Nester Falls and Sioux Narrows until you reach Highway 17 just east of Kenora. Turn East of Highway 17, about one half hour to Vermillion Bay. Turn North on Highway 105 to Red Lake. This route is slightly longer, but has more services along the way. Take Highway 11 East out of Fort Frances for 17 miles and then turn North on to Highway 502 to Dryden. You will have to drive through Dryden to Highway 17 and turn West. Drive 28 miles to Vermillion Bay and turn North on to Highway 105 to Red Lake. This route is shorter that the other by about one hour, but there are no road side services between the highway 502 turnoff and Dryden. Plan accordingly. There is however, a fair amount of traffic, should you have problems.

Local Accomodations

The Municipality of Red Lake consists of a cluster of six communities. Accommodations exist in Red Lake, in Balmertown located 10 kilometers away, and at numerous tourist camps located within varying distances of the communities themselves. For the most part these camps prefer to rent cabins by the week to guests who wish to fish and/or relax on site, some also have RV and camping sites available.


Balmer Motor Hotel – Balmertown 10 km from Festival (807)735-2076 Fax: (807) 735-2530

Chukuni Tent and Trailer Park – Chukuni River between Red Lake and Balmertown (5 km from Festival) (807) 735-2869

Five Lakes Lodge – Gullrock Lake 13 km south of Red Lake on Hwy 105 (807) 727-2789 Toll Free: 1-888-875-1859

Golden Hook Camp – Gullrock Lake 20 km south of Red Lake on Hwy 105 (807) 727-2708 Toll Free: 1-888-810-1479

Howey Bay Motel and Lounge – Red Lake 1 block from Festival (807) 727-3419 or 1-800-263-4693 Fax: (807) 727-3968.

Howey Bay Resort – Red Lake 1 km to Festival (807) 727-2782

Island Vacation Retreat – McKenzie Island 5 km to Festival by boat (807) 662-8371

Nature’s Inn – Balmertown approx 10 km to Festival (807) 735-2626

Norseman Inn – Red Lake <1 km to Festival 807-727-2858 or 3133 Fax: 807-727-1907. Pakwash Provincial Park - Pakwash Lake 55 km south of Red Lake (807) 222-2059 Fax: (807) 222-3147 Poplar Point Resort - Gullrock Lake 13 km south of Red Lake on Hwy 105) (807) 727-3154 Procyk’s Angler’s Paradise Lodge - Two Island Lake 30 km south of Red Lake (807) 727-2670 Toll Free 866-267-2121 Sunset Lodge and Outfitters - Red Lake on Forestry Road <2 km to Festival (807) 727-2683 Fax: 807-727-3770 South Bay on Gullrock - Gullrock Lake 15 km south of Red Lake on Hwy. 105 (807) 727-2830 Wright’s Camp - Gullrock Lake 11 km south of Red Lake on Hwy. 105 (807) 727-2096 [/av_tab] [av_tab title='Road Map' icon_select='no' icon='ue800' font='entypo-fontello'] Ontario Map

Copyright © Norseman Floatplane Festival 2009 – 2018 – all rights reserved.
The Norseman Festival Committee – P.O. Box P.O. Box 122, Red Lake, Ontario, P0V 2M0, Canada