Thunder Bay is the largest city on Lake Superior in either Canada or the United States with a population of over 120,000. Noted for its cultural diversity and unique international flavour, it represents the gateway to Northwestern Ontario's adventure and wilderness areas. Canada's third largest port city located at the head of the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway System over 2,200 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean, Thunder Bay has always been an important transportation and supply centre and has its history firmly rooted in the fur trade, mining, and logging.
Located on the rugged Canadian Shield, a huge land mass stretching through most of Northern Ontario and Quebec and created by glaciers over 10,000 years ago, the city itself is situated on a promontory overlooking Lake Superior and offers a number of spectacular lookouts. Native legend says that Thunder Bay is watched over and protected by "The Sleeping Giant", an unusual rock formation which forms the tip of Sibley Peninsula, located 16 miles across the Thunder Bay Harbour. It resembles the shape of a giant lying on his back with his arms crossed over his chest. Legend has it that Nanabijou, the Ojibway Great Spirit, turned to stone when the secret of the silver mine on the other side of the peninsula was discovered.
This area is known for its superior natural beauty, its proximity to wildlife and wilderness and its outstanding parks and people. The warmth and hospitality of the people here is well known and hospitality is more than just a word – it's a way of life.
Day 1: Arrive in Thunder Bay, the largest city on Lake Superior. Check-in at your quality hotel and enjoy a welcome dinner. This evening, visit Mount McKay Scenic Lookout, rising over 1,000 feet above the city and photograph the panoramic "view from the top". There's lots of daylight after dinner on summer evenings because it doesn't get dark here until 10:30 or 11:00 p.m.!
Day 2: After a hearty breakfast, experience the romance and adventure of Canada's first commercial business, the fur trade. Old Fort William features 42 authentically recreated buildings on a 125-acre river site. Costumed interpreters draw visitors back to the year 1815 with conversation and engaging antics. Choose a guided group tour or an enhanced tour featuring hands-on activities. A voyageur lunch and visit to the gift shop complete your visit.
In the afternoon, travel west to Kakabeka Falls, the "Niagara of the North". Look for the image of Greenmantle in the mist, the heroic Ojibway princess who, when captured by the Sioux, led them over the Falls instead of to her Ojibway camp. Enjoy an interpretive park program and boardwalk stroll. Dinner options include a countryside "barn" or a charming valley lodge. Allow some time to visit Pioneer Village which houses a marvellous collection of local collectibles.
Day 3: Today, you'll "go to the mines"! Visit one of several local amethyst mines where the colour purple abounds, as amethyst is Ontario's official gemstone. Tour an open-surface mine and dig for a few treasures of your own. At the new Thunder Bay Agate Mine, the on-site workshop can even polish a piece while you wait! By morning's end, you will know all the popular medicinal and unusual uses of these Superior stones!
Afterward, discover more about Thunder Bay as your local guide shares insights about the city's rich cultural and industrial heritage. Enjoy the fabulous harbour view from Hillcrest Park and examine wonderful exhibits at Thunder Bay's Historical Museum. The International Friendship Gardens celebrate the city's rich ethnic heritage and the Thunder Bay Art Gallery is the permanent home for contemporary Canadian Native Art. Tonight, return to Old Fort William for a special "Voyageur Feast". Historical characters from the past host your dinner with a lively combination of music, tall tales and fascinating anecdotes from the pages of history.
Day 4: Depart Thunder Bay for Marathon (200 miles to the east). Stop first at the Terry Fox Memorial Lookout. Here, a nine-foot high statue honours the memory of Canada's one-legged runner who captured the world's heart with his cross-Canada run for cancer research. Near this spot, he ended his 3,339-mile run, stricken with the disease that eventually took his life. Further along the "Courage Highway", visit Ouimet Canyon, a spectacular two-mile long gorge that is 500 feet deep and wide and unspoiled by man. Walk along a well-marked trail to reach specially-constructed viewing pods placed directly over the sheer cliffs. Enjoy a lakeside lunch in Red Rock. Continuing east, you'll learn about the geology of the Canadian Shield, Lake Superior shipwrecks, environmental issues and the colourful people and towns of the North Shore. Arrive in Marathon in late afternoon.
Day 5: Continue your journey along Superior's scenic coastal highway, arriving in Sault Ste. Marie in late afternoon.
- Great Rendezvous Festival: Thunder Bay - This 10-day festival commemorates the historic arrival of the voyageur brigades and features rustic camps, authentic canoes, unique crafts, historic games, music and spirited fun. (second week of July).
- International Friendship Days and Fringe Festival: International celebration featuring 32 shows at four venues within a five-minute walk (late July)
- Winter Carnival Celebration: Thunder Bay - Featuring a variety of winter activities (late January).
- Northern Tourism: Phone (807) 768-6716, Toll Free 1-800-603-3837, Website: http://www.getnorth.com
- North of Superior Tourism Association: Phone (807) 626-9420, Fax (807) 626-9421, Toll Free 1-800-265-3951 (U.S./Canada), Website: www.nosta.on.ca
- Tourism Thunder Bay: Phone (807) 625-2149, Fax (807) 623-3768, Website: http://tourism.city.thunder-bay.on.ca/
- Sunset Country Travel Association: Phone (807) 468-5853, Fax (807) 468-5484, Toll Free 1-800-665-7567 (U.S.), Website: www.ontariossunsetcountry.ca
Note: Area 12 itineraries compiled by Lois Nuttall, Lake Superior Visits, 2021 Oliver Road, Thunder Bay, Ontario P7B 6C2, Phone (807) 344-9208, Fax (807) 345-3787, E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, Website: http://www.superiorvisits.com
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