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 from town.
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 p.m.
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 Championships.)
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 Room.
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.