Big City Tales

Canada’s Gateway to the West Rolls Through Thunder Bay

February 27, 2018
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Situated on the banks of Lake Superior in Northwestern Ontario, the city of Thunder Bay has long been an important region and natural wonder in the heart of Central Canada. From its early beginnings as a First Nations gathering place to its emergence as a fur trading post and eventual shipping and railway transportation hub between Eastern and Western Canada, there is much to experience and enjoy in “Canada’s Gateway to the West.”

Mount McKay

Offering a gorgeous view of the city and western shore of  Lake Superior, what better way to begin exploring the city than a visit to the Mount McKay Scenic Lookout where the Thunder Bay eagle looms large and majestic. Located on the Fort William First Nation, the lookout includes a walkway and other tributes to the city’s indigenous people such as the Mountain Chapel and Memorial that honours those who died in the world wars.

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Chippewa Park 

After soaking up the views on high at Mount McKay, head on down and take a short drive along City Road to one of Thunder Bay’s grandest and oldest lakefront recreation spots.

Chippewa Park features an old-fashioned carousel and other rides along with a dance hall, picnic areas and long stretches of sand along Sandy Beach looking out toward the famous Sleeping Giant located on Sibley Peninsula.

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The Legend of the Sleeping Giant

While there are a few versions of how the Sleeping Giant land formation came to be, one of the most common centres around an old Ojibwa story.

Legend has it that the spirit figure, Nanabijou, was turned to stone and fell into his final resting place in the waters of Thunder Bay after the secret location of a silver mine known as ‘Silver Islet’ was revealed to white men.

The mine and its riches were intended to be a reward to the Ojibwa for their loyalty and peaceful way of life provided the mine’s whereabouts was safeguarded. Unfortunately, the consequences of its discovery meant instant peril for Nanabijou and the Ojibwa tribe; the great Spirit of the Deep Water was frozen in stone for all eternity and the silver treasure was lost forever.

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Prince Arthur’s Landing at Marina Park

From the winding shores of Sandy Beach at Chippewa Park a good spot to check out next is Prince Arthur’s Landing, a large waterfront complex located in Marina Park.

Whether you fancy a stroll along the boardwalk or a sail on the lake, there is plenty to keep you happily occupied. Public art installations are prominently featured along the pier area, as well as a splash pad/wading pool and skateboard/BMX park for all ages to utilize.

Marina Park is also home to The Anchorage Memorial that honours naval veterans from World War II and the old C.N. Station which was designed in the popular “Railroad Gothic” style of architecture that was popular from the 1880s to the 1930s.

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Fort William Historical Park

The early economic history of Thunder Bay comes to life at Fort William, the world’s largest fur trading post where employees of the North West Company alongside the Ojibwa conducted their business centuries ago.

A large native encampment on the fort’s perimeter showcases traditional wigwams and fur drying techniques along with other crafts and cooking.

Inside the fort over 30 historical buildings depict the day-to-day life of the fur trade industry representatives.

For its time the fort was a grand undertaking and reflected the wealth and success achieved by the North West Company. All necessities were provided including a hospital, apothecary, powder magazine, observatory and jail.


In addition to the intrepid French voyageurs and British settlers who traveled across the Atlantic Ocean to participate in the fur trade, Thunder Bay also has a large Finnish population. Migrant workers from Finland were instrumental in fostering positive labour practices in the early part of the 20th Century.

The Finnish Labour Temple was built in 1910 and proudly flies the flag of its adopted homeland. Right next door you can get your fill of Finnish pancakes at Hoito Restaurant.

Kaministikwia River Heritage Park

More commonly referred to as Kam River Park, the area features a long walkway and scenic views of the Kaministikwia River.

Historical structures such as the 100-year-old James Whelan Tug boat and a vintage VIA Rail train can be found here along with newer public art installations such as the beautiful Animikii – Flies the Thunder sculpture.

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Thunder Bay Museum

Before it was a museum, the building was first known as the Donald Street Station, which was the police station and courthouse for the historic City of Fort William.

Covering the periods of early native life through to modern times, the museum features three floors and six galleries of permanent and rotating exhibits. It’s a wonderful place to get a sense of the local, regional and national influences that contributed to Thunder Bay’s development.

“Superior by Nature”

Thunder Bay’s “Superior by Nature” corporate tagline reflects two equally important aspects about the city: its location in proximity to Lake Superior; and its beautiful natural environment that can be enjoyed year-round.

From lakes and rivers to mountains and forests, the diverse terrain provides the perfect landscape to explore the great outdoors in myriad ways.

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Taking the Tarnish Off of Toronto

August 19, 2013
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One of the fringe benefits of working in downtown Toronto is the close proximity to Lake Ontario.

From its boisterous and belligerent mayor to its beleaguered police force, the city of Toronto has been in the news for all the wrong reasons this summer, but don’t let these public stains tarnish your image of what is otherwise one of Canada’s safest and most vibrant urban centres. Indeed, despite the recent bad press, the city has many redeeming qualities and boasts multiple world-class amenities that are worth a look-see time and time again.

The CN Tower

Situated along the shores of Lake Ontario, Toronto’s downtown core is an eclectic mix of modern and historical buildings with the iconic CN Tower being the star attraction. Rising over 1800 feet into the air, the tower remains the tallest free-standing structure in the Western hemisphere, and attracts in excess of two million visitors each year.

While many patrons prefer to take in the 360 degree view of the city from the inner observation deck, the thrill-seeking crowd were delighted when the EdgeWalk feature was added in 2011 allowing access to an exterior platform at 1168 feet. As TV personality Rick Mercer and singer/songwriter Jann Arden discovered, even being tethered to an overhead rail system and accompanied by a trained guide doesn’t put the butterflies at bay, but there’s no denying the spectacular views!

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With its sleek design and mammoth height, the CN Tower dominates the Toronto skyline.

Museum Central

Those looking for a break from the stress of a Toronto traffic jam on the 401 or mass of humanity on the crowded streets can seek refuge in one of the city’s peaceful cultural institutions. The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), Hockey Hall of Fame, and Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) are all found in the general vicinity of the downtown core and each has unique offerings:

  • ROM is well-known for its Egyptian, Japanese and Chinese exhibits, as well as its extensive collection of natural history artifacts numbering in the millions.
  • Fans of the National Hockey League will enjoy a stroll down hockey’s memory lane at the Hockey Hall of Fame where the exploits of Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr, Maurice Richard and others greats of the game are celebrated in typical Canadian fanfare. The Hall of Fame is also the permanent exhibition site of the Stanley Cup and other significant league trophies.
  • AGO is one of the world’s largest art galleries and features an impressive array of works from Canadian artists, and a number of sculptures from Britain’s Henry Moore. AGO is also known for its many building expansions, with Frank Gehry being among the famous architects who have put their design stamp on the gallery.

It may have an ultra-modern exterior, but the interior of the Royal Ontario Museum celebrates classical civilizations and timeless natural history artifacts.

Theatre District

As the world`s third largest English-speaking theatre district there are plenty of plays, musicals and festivals to take in on a regular basis in Toronto`s Theatre District. Be it a flashy West End or Broadway touring show production, or an uncensored Fringe Festival offering there is bound to be something that appeals to live theatre buffs. Canada`s Walk of Fame is also located in this area and the annual induction ceremony is a highlight on the Toronto high society calendar.


The Royal Alexandria Theatre is the oldest continuously operating theatre in North America.

Yonge Street

As main streets go, Toronto has one of the longest in the world and one of the most culturally significant with Yonge Street playing host to street parades, performances, and demonstrations. The corner of Yonge and Dundas streets is often the site of free concerts and other public events at Yonge-Dundas Square, and is akin to the function and ambience of Times Square in New York City. Yonge Street is also a major transportation artery with the Yonge subway line running almost the full length of Toronto and connecting with most feeder routes.

For the city at the centre of the Canadian universe, Toronto often faces a lot of scrutiny from outsiders who delight in any blemishes that surface. It is a tall order to maintain a perfect complexion and it should be noted that the recent outbreak of unsavoury public activity is not a true reflection of what this city has to offer. Rather, Toronto is a dynamic and savvy metropolitan hub full of a palpable energy that fuels an air of excitement with every visit to its inner core – tarnished image or not!


Yonge Street a.k.a. Main Street Ontario.