blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

More about Thunder Bay

Prince Arthur's Landing from the air
While I was writing the blog-log of our flying trip last month I didn't do justice to the city of Thunder Bay that we stopped in twice, once on the way out, once on the way back.

Our likeable hotel, the Prince Arthur, was old and slightly shabby, like a poor, smaller cousin of Ottawa's Chateau Laurier, built in the same era. On the first night there I swam in the cold water of its rectangular pool in the basement, after a fish and chip supper at one of the nearby pubs. To Chris' relief we missed hearing live music from The Soles or Wax Philosophic (good name, that) which was advertised on the board, but we were entertained by videos of Xtreme Skiboarding shown on the TV screens instead, and drank some Steam Whistle (Ontario) beer.

Children are tempted to try Xtreme sports at Thunder Bay
On the wall of the pub, we saw the grainy reproduction of an old photo taken in May 1912 showing ships leaving Thunder Bay down a water lane cut through the ice of the bay; they were carrying 5 million bushels of wheat. There still seem to be plenty of ships coming and going in the container port, the grain elevators are still standing, and freight trains bring the containers back and forth along the waterfront railroad; there was constant rail traffic going past our hotel, wheels rumbling like thunder through the night.

The hotel's shuttle bus driver, taking us into town past Thunder Bay's Lakehead University told us that the city had been improving lately, recovering its prosperity by degrees. It had helped when a School of Medicine had opened here, and now there were new government buildings on the waterfront and lakeside condos were under construction.

Yin and Yang in the Taiji Park
Downtown Thunder Bay seemed to have many imposing buildings that had no apparent purpose (no name boards outside them), with square fa├žades, as in Winnipeg. The "waterfront" district (i.e. that part of town) was mostly deserted both nights we stayed there, except in the pubs and in the marina park: Prince Arthur's Landing. Everywhere, the sound of seagulls. Thunder Bay is apparently the Taiji (sic, aka tai chi) Capital of Canada and has a Taiji Park at one end of the waterfront with a yin-yang symbol on the ground and a circular Chinese arch. On the walls of other structures in the parks were poems written by local poets.

Nightfall in this most western part of Ontario seems to come very late, in the summer; when it did we could see the cargo ships lit up at anchor beyond the harbour wall and on the piers twisted metal towers (a modern sculpture installation called Jiigew, resembling harbour beacons) lit up with tumbling patterns of white lights. I could see them from our hotel room window.

Other wonders visible from our window were the rainbow after the thunder storm (it had to thunder, of course, in Thunder Bay), the yacht sails filling out as the yachts "went about" to change direction and the long Sibley peninsula on the horizon of the bay. There, way out beyond the harbour, lies Nanabijou, the Sleeping Giant, low clouds swirling around him.

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