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Thunder Bay

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For other places with the same name, see Thunder Bay (disambiguation).

Thunder Bay [1] lies at the far northwestern point of the Great Lakes of North America, and is a transportation bridge between the rich agricultural Prairies of Canada and the Atlantic Ocean and the rest of the world. The population of Thunder Bay is 122,907 (2006 census).

Get in

Thunder Bay is on Trans-Canada Highway 11 and 17. From the east, it is a 7-8 hour (700 km) drive from Sault Ste Marie and from the west, it is a 7-8 hour (720 km) drive from Winnipeg.

Thunder Bay has not been served by passenger rail since 1989 due to a politically motivated right-of-way dispute between Via Rail and Canadian Pacific Railways.

Thunder Bay has a commercial airport that lies approximately 15 minutes west of the downtown center. There is one Transit bus that passes by every 30-40 minutes during the week and weekends. Hotel shuttles are also available for the Airlane Travelodge hotel and the Valhalla Inn hotel.

Get around

Thunder Bay isn't known for being a walkable city. This is largely due its Twin-Cities heritage which causes the city to be very spread out. Until 1970, the city was actually two separate large communities (Fort William and Port Arthur) separated by a swamp that has since been built up. City council seems to finally, in recent years, be developing the north end (Port Arthur) into an entertainment district with the Marina Park as its centrepiece, and the south end (Fort William) into a business district. Within each of these districts (North end and South end downtown cores) walking is certainly viable in the non-winter months. During the winter months, your face will freeze off.

As a result of this, your best way to get between these two zones is by bus. Up-to-date schedules are available on Thunder Bay Transit's [2] official website.

Alternatively, there are multiple taxi services.

The city is increasingly focused on expanding its network of bicycle paths as well. Transport by inline skates can work well on these paths, but sidewalks are often too mottled to afford any speed or efficiency on skates.

See

Do

  • Take part in the Drunkinental Cup; it's a T-Bay tradition. Backyard curling bondspiel!
  • Raven Ecoventures, 807-933-5241, [3]. Take a guided wilderness canoe trip or ecotour in this land of lakes, trees and moose.
  • The area has a large Finnish population, so saunas are common and popular.
  • Fort William Historical Park, [4]. A recreation of the days of the North West Company and the Canadian fur trade circa 1815. Over 40 buildings on 225 acres, it offers a look at fur trade life, culture, rafts, medicine, business, domestic life and heritage farming. RVs and tent campsites are now available, and pets are welcome.


  • Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, [5].

Enjoy a hike along one of the beautiful trails at Sleeping Giant. Take Top of the Giant, a challenging 25km return (I think) trail to a spectacular lookout over Tee Harbour, Lake Superior, and a rugged cliff's edge. In March, Sleeping Giant hosts the Sibley Ski Tour[6], a Thunder Bay tradition.

  • Silver Islet, [7].
  • Kakabeka Falls, [8].
  • Take a walk around the harbour.
  • Visit the amethyst or agate mines.
  • Visit Ouimet Canyon and/or Eagle Canyon.

Walk across the suspension bridge at Eagle Canyon for beautiful views.

  • Drive west of Thunder Bay to Quetico Provincial Park[9] - some of the best canoeing in the world awaits!
  • You can also canoe on White Otter Lake, near Quetico and Atikokan. Visit White Otter Castle[10], a 3-storey wooden cabin single-handedly built by Jimmy McQuat on the shores of the lake. Legend is that Jimmy built it for his sweetheart and then got jilted. There is a walking trail from the castle area that leads to an abandoned WWII POW camp, but this has not been restored for tourists. Be careful of rusted metal and sharp edges in the camp.
  • Ron's Virtual World, 234 Van Norman St, (807) 345-4171. Has laser tag and many arcade games for a bit of fun. Most people who grew up in Thunder bay have hosted their Birthday here at least once in their life! $.

Buy

Eat

South End

  • Norma Jean's Restaurant, 123 May Street South (1 Block from City Hall), +1 (807) 623-1343. Do you like Burgers, fries and milkshakes? It's all here, along with a few other dishes. Nothing will blow you away, but sometimes when traveling that's a good thing. A nice way to eat locally. ~$13
  • Cronos Cafe, 433 Syndicate Avenue South (Two blocks south of Arthur St), +1 (807) 622-9700. 11AM-3PM. This is a greek restaurant that has strayed from a core-greek menu to include decent burger-and-fry combos. If you really want delish, get the Chicken Souvlaki with Fries or Greek Salad. They're light on the fries though, so you might want to ask them to double up. You should specify think for the milkshakes. Popular with highschool students and business people alike at lunch due to it's proximity to both a public and catholic high school as well as city hall and the civic centre. ~$12.
  • Up In Smoke BBQ and Grill is a fabulous little Cajun gem. Take home a family pack, as it is both delicious and plentiful.

North End

  • The Hoito, 314 Bay Street (Northwest corner of Bay and Algoma), [11]. For a unique dining experience, visit Thunder Bay's famed Finnish restaurant, The Hoito. On weekend mornings, it is packed with locals of all ages, families and friends eating together, delicious Finnish pancakes. The Hoito is a beloved Thunder Bay institution! ~$11.
  • Calico Coffee House, 316 Bay Street (Next door to The Hoito), +1 (807) 766-9087. ~$7.
  • The Thai Kitchen, 36 Cumberland Street S (Nearby the Casino), +1 (807) 345-1707, [12]. The Thai Kitchen is easily Thunder Bay's best choice for Thai food. Originally only providing catering and special events food, the actual restaurant opened for the first time in 2007 and it is getting busier. If you want very reasonably priced food and you like Thai, this is the place. The husband and wife owners are friendly, both speak Thai (one is an immigrant from Northern Thailand) and it's hard to spend more than $20 per person and not feel like to over-ate! Showing up before the dinner rush (5-5:30PM) is a good idea on Friday and Saturday nights. You'll get more prompt service and the cooks will have more time to spend on your food. Most main dishes are $9 and come with rice or noodles. Try the Kaeng Penang (#33)! ~$14.
  • Armando, 28 Cumberland Street North (Across from the Prince Arthur Hotel), +1 (807) 344-5833. Armando (the man) is an Italian-Canadian who hails from Naples. His family's italian eatery serves classics and does them well, and he'll even sing to you at your table. The prices have been increasing in recent years, but the quality is superb. Expect to pay about $45 plus drinks per person. There are several excellent dishes that are not on the menu. Of particular quality are any of their meats in the signature Sambuca sauce. Ask for veal or bison if available. The closest you'll get to Donatello in Bologna without leaving Thunder Bay. ~$45.


  • Bistro One offers excellent fine dining.
  • Prospector, in downtown Port Arthur, is a fantastic steakhouse. With an amazing cut of Prime Rib, fantastic sides, and a delicious soup and salad bar, The Prospector is the place to be.
  • Thunder Bay has a couple of sushi places: Wasabi and Sushi Bowl. They are tasty, but visitors from larger cosmopolitan centres or the coast will likely be disappointed as sushi is much more expensive than they may be accustomed to. Sushi is approximately twice the price here as in Toronto for example.
  • Thunder Bay is also famous for a unique pastry called a Persian. A Persian is similar to a danish with a mysterious pink icing. Some say the icing is strawberry, others say it is cherry, but it certainly is pink. Most people eat their persians just as they are, but for a special treat, have yours cut, buttered and grilled/toasted.
  • Gargoyles Grille & Ale, 11 CUMBERLAND ST. S. (corner of Lorne and Cumberland Street), (807) 345-3011, [13]. 11:30 - 24:00. The bar is constructed of cluttered stone and covered with statues of Gargoyles. These mid-evil creatures help us to create a very unique dining and entertaining experience. The food is very original and tastes amazing.
  • White Fox Inn, 1345 Mountain Road, (807) 577 -3699, [14]. 17:00 - 24:00. a number of signature dishes including our succulent Rack of Lamb, juicy selection of steaks, and our ever-popular White Fox Salad. A wonderful place for a night out. Beautiful scenery surrounding the restaurant in the countryside. $$$.
  • Organic Garden Cafe, 415 Fort William Rd (Drive up Water St and turn on Fort William Road. It is a bit hidden on your Right hand Side.), (807) 344-1917. Amazing vegetarian food. Ovo, Lacto, Vegan-friendly, Organic, Western, Take-out. Small organic cafe using some fresh produce grown by the owners. Open Tue-Thur 12-6pm, Fri 12-8pm. $$.
  • Naxos Grill & Bar, 610 Arthur Street West (Next to the LCBO on Arthur street.), (807) 475-3886. Greek Food. Great for lunch or dinner! $$.

Drink

  • International house of tea, 899 fort william rd, 626-0130. Inviting Tea House, loose leaf tea fine friends supurb tea and a good book all signs of an abundent life!
  • Steepers, 122 May Street N (Two blocks northeast of Victoriaville), +1 (807) 476-0698, [15]. A tea house.
  • Seattle Coffee House, 588 Arthur Street West, (807) 577-3355. 07:00 - 23:30. A local Coffeehouse that serves unique drinks along the lines of Starbucks. A wonderful cafe experience with cozy fireplaces and bench seating.
  • Sovereign Room, 220 Red River Rd, (807) 343 9277, [16]. Cheap-Elegant Pub/Rest. Funk, Indie, Hip-Hop. Dozen's of Import Beer. Sole focus on fresh quality ingredients. Daily Specials. Open Tue-Wed 4pm-2am, Thur-Fri 11am-2am, Sat-Sun 4pm-2am, Closed Mon $$.
  • Sovereign Room, 220 Red River Rd, (807) 343 9277. Cheap-Elegant Pub/Rest. Funk, Indie, Hip-Hop. Dozen's of Import Beer. Sole focus on fresh quality ingredients. Daily Specials. Open Tue-Wed 4pm-2am, Thur-Fri 11am-2am, Sat-Sun 4pm-2am, Closed Mondays. $$.
  • Madhouse. A great hole in the wall pub with exceptional service and an extensive beer menu! Nothing on the menu is more then 20$ 10-20$.


Sleep

  • Try a remote, rustic wilderness cabin [17] powered by the sun on its own private lake and trail network to get a sense of the wild beauty of Northern Ontario.
  • Thunder Bay International Hostel, Longhouse Village, RR 13, 1594 Lakeshore Drive, +1 807 983-2042, fax +1 807 983-2914, [18]. Located 18 km east of the city. If travelling by Greyhound, tell the driver ahead of time to drop you off at the hostel; call Greyhound ahead of time to be picked up. Beds are $20 per night. Camping is $12 for one person or $19 for two people.
  • Sleeping Giant Guesthouse, 139 Machar Avenue, +1 807 683-3995, toll free +1 866 424-5687. Located on the north side of downtown Thunder Bay. Beds start at $21 per night.
  • Eldorado Beach on Lake Superior Bed and Breakfast, [19] located just east of the city, for those driving along highways 11/17. Full breakfast, family friendly, starting at $65 per night inclusive. toll free 866-205-0855.

Get out

Isle Royale, a wilderness park, lies within sight in Lake Superior. Commercial ferries from Grand Portage, Minnesota, USA provide the nearest official access to the island, but it's accessible from Thunder Bay by private boat. You will need your passport.


Routes through Thunder Bay
WinnipegDryden  W noframe E  Red RockSault Ste Marie
Fort Frances ← Atitokan ←  W noframe E  Red RockNorth Bay
ENDS  N noframe S  → Can-US border (becomes MN-61.png) → Grand PortageDuluth





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