July 9, 2007

Canada - Thunder Bay

Crossing the Border was much easier than expected, answering a few questions about what we had on board, the nature & length of our trip. Little did I know at the time that my answer of “a week or so” to the duration was way off as we reentered the US some 4-plus weeks later!

Thunder Bay
We pulled into the well-promoted Cherokee Campground late that evening only to be somewhat disappointed by the shabby nature of the facility, and apparent featureless surroundings. But, by the next day we had discovered that it had a nice wildlife center (zoo),

and a beautiful area to the North filled with many birds. We made several splendid walks here over the next three days.

We especially enjoyed the numerous Canadian geese, and were shocked to find a few migrating white pelicans!

Thunder Bay was built primarily on the fur trade. Iin the early years, and has a mainstay of timber, pulpwood and paper industries today. http://www.thunderbay.ca/index.cfm?fuse=html&pg=313

No trip to the city would be complete without having breakfast at the famed Hoito Café, which was the site of the Finnish Labor Temple, built in 1910 to serve as a home for Finnish workers who could neither afford a place to stay or a good meal. http://www.hoito.ca/article/history-of-the-finnish-labour-temple-4.asp
The mainstay of the breakfast from these earliest days was and is the Finnish pancake. After an hour’s wait, made pleasant by the serenade of a solo violinist playing on the sidewalk at the front door, we entered the home-style ambience and wonderful aroma to find a generous helping of those crepe-thin, but very filling wafers topped by maple syrup and complemented by a side of Finnish sausage.

But, the real highlight of the visit had to be stunning Kakabeka Falls. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kakabeka_Falls
It was an overcast morning, but the dim skies and light rain didn’t detract from this magnificent display of Mother Nature’s kinetic energy unleashed. The 130 foot drop of the second largest waterfall in Ontario was truly awesome when compared to the falls we had visited in MN.

Our next day was spent at Fort William, a Disney-like resurrection and re-enactment of the famous fur trading outpost situated on the Kakabecka River some 10 miles below the Falls. http://www.fwhp.ca/index2.html
A detailed and lengthy tour included stops at the fur storage & packing area, living quarters for both trappers and elite buyers & businessmen, Fort square, the dairy and stables, provisions & trading store, and of course, the kitchen. We were amazed at the huge numbers of furs they had on display. Trapping is still an active trade in Canada. The silver fox and the wolf pelts were soft and beautiful!

A spin around the compound in the big wagon brought us to the barn where we made a new friend...

Our timing for a canoe paddle was excellent, and we were the stars of the crew, providing most of the forward momentum (all the kids and most of the adults were dragging the paddles most of the time!!).

The last morning I was up early, gazing across the Bay to see our next destination...the Sleeping Giant!