About The Whitecap Pavilion

The Whitecap Pavilion, 1 Bernier Drive in Kenora is Northwestern Ontario’s all season event centre stage for Canada’s historical wilderness playground. For 25 years Bernier Drive was Kenora’s waterfront parkway featuring events that focused on local and tourism based promotions. In 2010, the area underwent a multimillion dollar revitalization which included replacing the original carnival tent with a state of the art tensile structure appropriately named The Whitecap Pavilion. All year the tent hosts a variety of shows, markets, festivals, competitions, expos, fundraisers and acts as a general “let’s get together” space. Canadian vacations are planned around these events giving family and friends opportunities to share the “lake experience” enjoying entertainment and activities on beautiful Lake of the Woods water’s edge. 

Bernier Drive historically is the hub of Kenora’s economy, the home of wharfs, boat clubs, boathouses, beaches, hotels, restaurants, water airports and theatres. With passageways between turn of the 18th century buildings leading from the water to the main streets, walking from Bernier Drive into the heart of the downtown has always been a delight, transporting you  from natures edge into a vibrant, all services community. On any typically gorgeous “Sunset Country” evening you can catch a musical, recreational, inspirational or commercial event under the Whitecap, walking down from fabulous restaurants, hotels or shops within a ¼ kilometer. After spending the day on the lake doing any number of watersports, heading back into town and docking at the Bernier Drive Harbourfront, enthusiasts always find the convenience too much to resist.

What do you see in this space? How do people in the community enjoy it?:

  • The pavilion hosts numerous shows, markets, festivals, competitions, expos, fundraisers, etc
  • Used as a vacation get-away
  • Home to wharfs, boat clubs, boathouses, beaches, hotels, restaurants, water airports and theatres
  • In the winter, the season starts with the annual Festival of Lights
  • Festival of Lights offers skating under the tent, Ice Candle ceremony, hockey on the lake, snow sculpture competition, Great Canadian Canoe Challenge, and fireworks.
  • Fabulous restaurants and shops

Events and Festivals:

  • Winter Bites (February month long festival of food)* http://www.kenoraonline.com/q104-blog/15645-take-a-bite-out-of-february-in-kenora
  • Winter Carnival (annual event in 2nd week of March)* http://www.kenorawintercarnival.ca/
  • Boat Expo under the Tent (3rd weekend in June)*
  • Matiowski Farmers Market (June through Oct)* http://kenora.ca/visiting/events-festivals/matiowski-farmers-market.aspx
  • Beaver Brae Secondary School Graduation Ceremony (3rd week in June)*
  • Relay for Life/Boobie Nights (Cancer Fund Raisers 1st week in June)* https://www.facebook.com/boobienights5
  • Canada Day Celebrations*  http://www.kenoraonline.com/q104-blog/13380-canada-day-in-kenora
  • Summer Concert Series (every Thursday July and Aug)* http://www.kenora.ca/visiting/events-festivals/harbourfront-concert-series.aspx
  • Antique Car Show (third weekend in June)* http://cjrl.ca/event/classic-car-show
  • Shake on the Lake (third Saturday of July)* https://signedevents.com/canada/kenora/shake-on-the-lake/
  • Harbourfest (August long weekend)* http://www.harbourfest.ca/
  • Kenora Invitation Bass Tournament (second week of August)* https://www.kbifishing.com/index.php
  • Lobster Fest (third Friday of Aug)*  http://www.kenoradailyminerandnews.com/2016/08/16/lobsterfest-celebrating-its-21st-birthday-with-a-bash
  • Community Mass Registration & Safety Night (first Wednesday of September)*
  • ESOX Muskechallunge (second weekend in Sept)
  • Various weddings, private socials throughout season
  • Last Matiowski Market Vendor/Customer Appreciation (Wed October 5th)*
  • Festival of Lights (last week of November)*
  • Ice Candle Ceremony (Christmas Eve) ** Events that are 5 or more years running

Economic and Retail Activities:

  • Cornerstone Restaurant
  • Bijou Steakhouse
  • Vertishade Interior desings
  • Cabin Country Realty
  • Rugged Surveyors
  • Lowery’s Stationery
  • Cabin’s Jacks Pub and Patio
  • Lululemon Yoga Studio and Yoga wear
  • Hardware Sports Company
  • Penner’s Jewelers
  • Lake of the Woods Oil and Vinegar Retail
  • TD Canada Trust
  • Scotia Bank
  • Solar Solutions
  • Historic Carnegie Designed Public Library
  • Lake of the Woods Racket Ball and Fitness
  • River Air Water Airport
  • MS Kenora Cruise Ship
  • Legacy Scenic Water

Historic or Heritage Features:

  • Bernier Drive has been the economic driving force of Kenora since 1860: it’s shoreline was the traditional summer central meeting ground of area First Nations where celebrations and trading occurred in the warm season
  • This meeting ground encouraged the Hudson’s Bay Trading Company to set up shop to accommodate the Fur Trader canoes
  • Pioneer tents, shanties and log cabins lead the way to economic development on Bernier Drive that would later become heritage buildings made of local stone and locally fired brick structures as the regions remoteness made it become self-sufficient
  • Industrialization with Kenora’s gold rush had boat builders and wharf warehouses set up shop on Bernier to accommodate the growing need for vessels and barges to carry the many people, goods and materials used in the increasing business and leisure activity happening on the vast wilderness waters of Lake of the Woods
  • The Canadian Pacific Railway ran its track along the Bernier shore to service the loading and unloading of materials captured or purchased in the surrounding area
  • With the era of air travel, Bernier Drive saw the first water airport in North Western Ontario that had several companies operating service to the remote north
  • Today, the waterfront hosts several annual festivals and events that have become cultural heritage in the making for visitors, summer residents and locals that gather together just as the First Nations did and still do on the historic shoreline that is now Bernier Drive

Memorable or Unique Characteristic(s):

  • Amazing sunsets
  • Sparkling ice flows
  • Cries of returning gulls in the spring
  • Laughter of children skating under the tent
  • Cheering of crowds for Canadian musicians
  • The clattering sticks of hockey on the lake rink
  • The “Ooohs” and “Ahhs” of the thousands of people lined along the drive for firework nights
  • The mist on the water in late fall
  • The hush of gently lapping waves along the Bernier walkway
  • Jingle dresses tinkling to the sounds of elders drumbeats
  • The voices of people discussing the fresh farm produce and artisan wares
  • The motoring boats
  • The roar of float planes
  • The surprise of encountering wildlife right on the green spaces surrounding Bernier Drive


  • 2012: Revitalization of Bernier Drive completed with the training of then tent on the WhiteCap Pavilion
  • This revitalization took 2 years to complete the Pavilion Plaza and Whitecap Pavilion at #1 Bernier Drive which joined this location to the business core of downtown Kenora
  • 2016: completion of several restorative and development projects along and adjacent to Bernier drive including Tugboat Park, a much needed conference facility installation in a neighbouring historic school, 2nd St Revite which is an ongoing restorative project of core areas that works towards accommodating the increasing number of visitors drawn to Bernier Drive festivals and events throughout the year
  • The Bernier Drive Harbourfront is slated for improvements to docking, parking, and themed activity areas beginning 2017 to further encourage economic growth for Kenora
  • Neighbouring Matheson Street is on next year’s revite schedule and a local shopper’s mall is presently being restructured to freshen business opportunities the city is experiencing with renewed interest of sharing the millions spent annually in the tourism sector
  • A recent announcement of an airport expansion reinforces the recognized growth of economic development potential. All of this renewed interest would not have happened without the vision of Bernier Drive and the Whitecap

Faits rapides

Additional Comments:
Bernier Drive is Kenora’s economic driving force. Its strategic location plays a huge part in historical and future development of Kenora. The sites heritage is deeply embedded in the surrounding waters of the bay and the hearts of its local community. It truly is one of Canada’s greatest places and I can’t write words that describe how it has affected not only myself but generations before and yet to come. I thank you for considering my nomination but sincerely invite you to visit Bernier Drive on a midsummer’s night where many dreams have already come true….

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ps-rLaomq14

Map: http://bit.ly/2cEvGdq

Submitted by: Josh Nelson