Situated between International Falls and Voyageurs National Park is the little village of Ranier. One would never guess that this little community with a population of less than 200, has a “golden” history, is a walleye fisherman’s dream, a vacationer’s paradise and it sees more railroad cars crossing between the between U.S. and Canada than any other U.S/CANADA BORDER. (Source: U.S. Customs and Border Protection)
“Vic the Voyageur” welcomes you to Ranier.
Throughout the centuries Ranier has experienced it “all”. It is appropriate that a Voyageur welcomes you to Ranier because they were the first to do business in the area. Beginning in 1680, French fur traders, known as Voyageurs, met there to trade furs for berries, fish and handcrafted goods with the Ojibwa (Chippewa) aborigines. Even as the trade route expanded through the Grand Portage, Great Lakes and on to the Hudson River, Ranier was still a stopping place to trade a little, rest a little and a place where many stayed during the winter months. (Grand Portage is a National Monument comprised of an 8.5 mile pathway which was a part of the Voyageurs journey where they carried their canoes and furs between their wintering grounds and their depots to the east).
Until the late 1800s Ranier was a quiet trading post. Then the paper mill was started in International Falls and Fort Frances requiring lots of lumber and the lumbermen came. Gold was discovered and the miners came. There were fur trappers, commercial fishermen and boatmen. These men spent weeks and months working long hours with no contact with civilization an as expected they enjoyed their “drink” when they got to town. That left them prey for the gamblers, con-men, saloon owners and ladies of the night who found their way to Ranier. Prohibition of 1920s and 30s brought the whiskey smugglers who went back and forth between Canada and Ranier on the Ranier Bridge.
Today, Ranier is a quiet little town that attracts artists, writers, musicians, fishermen, and thousands of people seeking a beautiful, serene place to vacation.
While in Ranier you will find a few shops, lots of places to rent boats, canoes, houseboats, and great pancakes! I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Grandma’s Pantry where you can get the best and biggest pancake you’ll find anywhere.
East of Ranier you will find some awesome lodging. Sha Sha Resort is located on Dove Island and was rebuilt after a fire in 2006 destroyed it. The resort can be reached by boat as well as vehicles. It has become a popular place not only to rest your head, but to have a great meal, or meet with friends for a drink. The lodge has 11 decks where you can enjoy a beautiful view of Rainy Lake as well as a wonderful meal. Sha Sha is only one of over 15 resorts in the area that will help you make the most of your vacation whether you visit Spring, Summer, Fall or Winter.
Moving on to Voyageurs National Park!!! Minnesota’s only National Park.