The Towns and Cities
of Northern Ontario
Thunder Bay - North of Superior
The Lakehead is the last major big
city in Ontario. Its closest Canadian city neighbours are Winnipeg
and the Sault – and both of them are no less than 8 hours away by
car. However, to the south, Duluth, Minnesota is less than 3 hours
away with the Canadian/American border being less than 45 minutes
The city of Thunder Bay was formed by the
amalgamation of Fort William and Port Arthur. The Eastern Time Zone’s
western border, just outside the city, makes for some long days and it
is a bit surprising to be able to read the newspaper outside after 10
The area is steeped in native lore, the
major legend being the one about Nanabidjou – the Sleeping Giant. Major
components of this myth include a silver mine, a threat, treachery,
revenge, a flood and a visible reminder. The Sleeping Giant, situated
east of the city, is also home to Sibley Provincial Park and Silver
Islet which plays a major part in the legend.
There’s no lack of things to do in
Thunder Bay. My wife and I learned how to square dance there. I also
learned how to play Bridge, ski and fish. Special interests groups
abound. For the camping enthusiasts, there are numerous campgrounds,
offering from the very basic amenities to fully equipped sites. A very
popular spot in the summer is Boulevard Lake where families picnic, take
leisurely strolls or just take in the sun. Summertime is also the time
for the CLE – Canadian Lakehead Exhibition, where for close to two
weeks, the combination of midway, agricultural fair and big name
entertainment form one of the biggest events in western Ontario.
Fishing is a very popular activity no
matter what time of year it is. In the winter, the ski hills are packed.
(When I lived in Thunder Bay, the city hosted to the World Ski Jumping
Due its proximity to the States and to
Western Canada, the shopping is varied and superb. There are numerous
malls (the biggest being the Intercity Mall) and many specialty shops.
Dining is also a treat in Thunder Bay. No matter what you’re in the mood
for, you’ll find an establishment that will cater to your taste buds.
Try the Airlane Dining Room for superb service (the servers seem to
magically appear and disappear, never hovering over your table). For old
style elegance, you may want to try out the historic Royal Edward Dining
A very popular stop is the Terry Fox
Scenic Lookout located at the eastern entrance to Thunder Bay. The
monument, commemorating the end of Terry’s historical marathon depicts a
running Terry with all the provincial flags represented on the base.
From this vantage point, The Sleeping Giant looms large even against the
majesty of Lake Superior and the sight of salties (ships that travel the
ocean) either arriving at or leaving the grain elevators.