Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay 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 was approximately 108,000 at the time of the 2011 census.

A few decades back there were two towns here named Fort William and Port Arthur and the combination was usually referred to as the Lakehead. Today we have the city of Thunder Bay instead, but the town names are still used for districts.

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. The closest rail service is in Armstrong or Longlac, 250-300km distant.

Greyhound runs intercity buses west to Winnipeg and east via Sault Ste. Marie to Toronto. There is no easy way to Duluth, across the US border, other than driving there.

Thunder Bay's commercial airport, 15 minutes west of the downtown centre, has scheduled service to Toronto and Winnipeg. As of April, 2014 there were no direct flights to the US. One local transit bus passes each 30-40 minutes daily; the Airlane Travelodge and Valhalla Inn operate hotel shuttle buses.

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 into an area of suburban big-box stores, shopping malls and chain restaurants known as "Intercity". 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 the Thunder Bay Transit 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.


Sleeping Giant looms on the horizon, as seen in this view from Memorial Avenue in Intercity.

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 theSibley Ski Tour, a Thunder Bay tradition.

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


South End

North End

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.

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. $$.



Go next

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

Routes through Thunder Bay

Fort Frances Atitokan  W  E  Red Rock North Bay
Winnipeg Dryden  W  E  Red Rock Sault Ste Marie
ENDS  N  S  → becomes Grand Portage Duluth

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Wednesday, March 16, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.