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  • Janet Radley

Off the Beaten Path-Thunder Bay

If a road trip is something you are thinking of doing this summer why not think of making Thunder Bay part of your journey. I grew up in a small town 200 kilometres west of Thunder Bay and some of my family now live in Thunder Bay – I hope you enjoy this information on what I now call my “hometown”.

Thunder Bay is a city of 110,000 people located in Northwestern Ontario on Lake Superior. People having been living in the area for over 10,000 years. Stone tools, spear points and axe heads found here provide valuable information about the people living in the area during this period.

The first fur trade started in 1683 but large-scale trading really started in 1803 with the North West Company in Fort William. The North West Company merged with the Hudson Bay Company in 1821 but over time became minor trading post and the fort closed down in the 1880s.

In the late 19th century, the twin cities of Fort William and Port Arthur were neighbours and maintained a “friendly” rivalry. Both cities were prosperous and attracted immigrants from around the world. There is a large Italian community as well as one of the largest Finnish communities outside of Finland. In 1970 the 2 cities amalgamated and became the city of Thunder Bay.

Just outside of Thunder Bay you can visit the Terry Fox Memorial and Lookout which marks the place where Terry Fox was forced to stop his run on August 31, 1980 due to the recurrence of his cancer.

The memorial is located approximately 4kms west of of the exact location where he was forced to stop the run.

Explore the Fort William Historical Park which takes you back in time to the fur trading year of 1816. This is one of the largest living history attractions in North America which re-creates life at the North West Company fort during the fur trade era. The park covers 250 acres with 57 heritage and modern buildings.

The Sleeping Giant is what Thunder Bay is known for. An Ojibway legend says the giant is Nanabijou, the spirit of the Deep-Sea Water, turned to stone when the secret location of a rich silver mine, now known as Silver Islet was disclosed to white men.

Hillcrest Park located in the city’s north end and scenic views of the city, the harbour and

the Sleeping Giant.

You can visit The Sleeping Provincial Park and go to a unique scenic lookout. From this lookout you can see the city of Thunder Bay from the perspective of the Sleeping Giant. There is a boardwalk which juts out over the side of the cliff which gives you an unobstructed view of Thunder Bay and Lake Superior.

The heart of amethyst mining in Ontario is located around Thunder Bay. The semi-precious gems are found along the north shore of Lake Superior. You can visit the area’s open-pit mines for a fun pick-your-own experience or buy a polished stone from the gift store.

Amethyst became the official gemstone of Ontario in 1975.

Kakabeka Provincial Park is 30 minutes outside of Thunder Bay. The falls are the “Niagara of the North”. These falls are Ontario’s 2nd largest waterfall. Kakabeka Falls plunges 40 metres over sheer cliffs. There are a number of lookouts beside the falls.

For people who wish an active holiday there is hiking, biking, climbing, sailing, canoeing

and kayaking etc. In the winter there is downhill skiing, snowboarding, cross country skiing,

ice climbing, snowmobiling and dog sledding just to name a few.

For example climbers will find dozens of rock routes to explore within 15 minute drive from

anywhere in Thunder Bay. There area around Thunder Bat features some of the oldest, hardest granite in North America. Everyone from the novice to the experienced climber will find a challenge. If the weather is bad Thunder Bay is home to a large climbing facility.

Thunder Oak Cheese Farm has been making Gouda cheese in Thunder Bay from 1995. The cheese is made with fresh milk from their Holstein cows with no preservatives or added colours. There is a farm store which offers Gouda in any quantity, large or small and 12 different flavours.

Gouda Muffins

2 cups all purpose flour

½ cup sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1 tbsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 ½ cups of grated medium or flavoured gouda

1 cup plain yogart

¼ cup melted butter

2 eggs

In a large bowl stir together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and baking soda.

In a separate bowl combine yogurt, butter, cheese and eggs. Add all at once

to dry ingredients. Stir until just moistened. Divide batter evenly into muffin


Bake at 400F for 18 -20 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.

If you have a sweet tooth try a “Persian” which is an oval-shaped pastry that’s deep-fried and frosted with pink berry icing. It’s similar to a cinnamon bun but what makes it different is the tasty icing. It was created in the 1940s by Art Bennett and is local to Thunder Bay. It is not available anywhere else in Canada. Get them at the Persian Man.

There is a range of accommodation available in Thunder Bay from hotels and motels and

bed and breakfast and lodges and camping.

Delta Hotel by Marriott in Thunder Bay

The only true waterfront hotel in Thunder Bay.

Courthouse Hotel

Former Superior Court of Justice building – now a boutique hotel.

Fun Facts:

  • The poppy was first adopted as a symbol of remembrance in Thunder Bay in 1921.

  • With nearly 2200 hours of sunlight a year, Thunder Bay is the sunniest city in Eastern Canada.

  • Thunder Bay has produced more professional hockey players per capita than any other city in the world.

This is just a taste of what Thunder Bay has to offer for people wishing to travel with Canada and Ontario. If you would like to discuss a trip please feel free to reach out.


Helen Thompson Travel

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