Accidental Activist

Postcards from Thunder Bay

What's with the grumpy Tunder Bay locals being down on their town?

By Ben Bull
Published November 26, 2008

Greetings, Raise The Hammer!

Well, it's been a long time since I last sent you a postcard, but hey - what can I say? I've been a bit of a homebody lately. After all the excitement of New Glasgow and Scranton, I needed some time to cool my heels and savour the memories ... you know how it is.

But now I'm back on the road again. So where am I this time, you ask? Hawaii, Las Vegas, Madrid...? No - Thunder Bay!

It's a work trip, again, not that I wouldn't go to Thunder Bay by choice or anything, it's just that, well, I wouldn't go to Thunder Bay by choice.

I didn't know much about TB before I set off. I thought about planning a trip to Sleeping Giant Park, which was voted one of the seven wonders of Canada. But then a friend told me, "It's not the actual park that's a wonder...it's the view of it from Thunder Bay."

"Oh."

Perhaps it says something about your town, when the best part about the place is the view of someplace else...


Sleeping Giant Park (the peninsula looks like a Sleeping Giant - get it?)

I could find little else to recommend TB before heading out, so I decided to reserve judgment. But then I got on the plane and sat next to a lassie from TB, who was returning after 18 months away.

"I don't know what I was thinking," she told me, as we prepared for our descent. "Nobody moves back to Thunder Bay. They only leave."

"Oh," again.

My first impressions weren't great. I do have a soft spot for small towns with their three-gate airports (actually I think TB has five), single-lane roads, and quirky local characters, but it was clear to me after driving five minutes into town, that TB was just another sprawl/mall town. You know how it goes - roads, malls, roads malls, single home housing, roads, malls... I could have been in Mississauga (or Woodbridge or Scarborough, or London...).

As with any place I go, I was looking for the heart of the place - the downtown. I figured, after my chat on the plane, that this would be easy.

"There are three downtowns in Thunder Bay," the girlie had said.

"Great!" I replied. "Which one is the best?"

"None."

Oooh...

I drove to the waterfront after checking myself in, and, true to its promise, the Sleeping Giant really is a cool sight.

What if it didn't look like a Sleeping Giant? I wondered, as I stared at the impressive, imposing island. What if it looked more like a dwarf with an erection? That would really suck. Try getting that on Canada's list of seven wonders.

The B&B lady who gave me the tour (see! I told you the locals were friendly) told me the local council wanted to revitalize the waterfront area.

"They want to put up a hotel," she complained, "but what's wrong with it now?"

She had a point. The main waterfront is a pleasant enough marina with a few footpaths weaving this way and that, and not much else. There's a small cafe area somewhere in the middle - closed for the winter, alas (is it winter already? It is in Thunder Bay) - and that's about it.

But what else do you need? What is it with these city councils and their hard-on for overdeveloped waterfronts? Give me a promenade, a bit of nature and a place to sit and think, and that's all I need down by the lake.

The fundamental problem with Thunder Bay's waterfront area, if you ask me (and even if you don't), is its lack of people. There is very little housing downtown - not a condo in sight - not much in the way of business, and no transit system that you can see.

So you've got car-centricity, no density, a lack of mixed uses (hell, now that the paper mills are closing you don't even have primary uses). All in all, it's a death-knell for any area.

Speaking of the paper mills, they look pretty cool lining up along the lake. I noticed a dilapidated one as we pulled away. "That is so cool," I remarked to my B&B friend. "Tthey should give guided tours."

"They're blowing them up," she replied (thank God she didn't say "imploding). "I think it looks awful."


Why do people shun their history? I wonder. Why don't they value what makes them unique? What's shit to her is interesting to me. Shouldn't we cherish what sets us apart? (answer: yes).

OK I'm off to bed now. Got a big day at work tomorrow reviewing audit files. Man, I am so lucky! Trips to Thunder Bay and auditing for a living - it doesn't get any better than this.

Nighty night, Raise The Hammer.


Dear RTH,

Well I'm still here in Tunder Bay (I've decided it sounds better when you say it with an Irish accent ... don't ask).

Did I mention in my last postcard that there's no train station here? I hate flying, as you know, so I tried to book a train. But there's only one station, in Armstrong, two or three hours to the north. And the trip from Toronto takes, er, a day and a half. Where the hell are we, India?

So anyway, I drove to work this morning, and lo and behold, my office is in one of Tunder Bay's three town centres. You know this because there's a sign, right next to the 'Port Arthur Industrial Park' sign, saying, 'Town Centre'.

I figure if you need a sign telling you you're in the town centre, then it's not really a town centre.

So what's with the grumpy Tunder Bay locals being down on their town? First it was the airoplane girl. Last night it was the waitress at the bar. I went to Gargoyles for a bite, right before I tucked myself in, and after a lovely meal the waitress said to me, "I'm assuming you're here on business?"

"Why, yes I am," I replied, grateful for the chance to chat (I'd been reading the local paper so any distraction was a relief).

"Well, you would be," she shot right back. "I mean, why else would anyone come here?"

Bam! Oh dear, oh dear. Even in lowly Hamilton, folks don't go around ragging like that. It's just not right.

But it didn't end there. After wrapping up my work and heading back to the airport, I handed in my rental car. "I'm glad to be going home," I said to the car rental girl, just trying to be chatty (I do that a lot).

"Glad to be getting out of Thunder Bay you mean?" she corrected me.

What? No, I never said that...that's not what I meant at all. "No, no!" I protested, not wanting to cause offense. "Thunder Bay's not that bad."

"Ha!" she laughed, with a waft of her hand. "I hate the place. I wish I was getting on the plane with you."

I walked quickly away.


Aerial View of Tunder Bay - What's not to like?

Why does Thunder Bay cause such a reaction? I wonder. Admittedly, I can't imagine myself living here, but then again I couldn't imagine myself living in Hamilton, and I did for six and a half years.

It all made me wonder if it's time for the town to have an image makeover. I've thought up a few slogans just in case (Ryan, could you please send these on to the Tunder Bay tourist board? And while you're at it, tell them to change their name to Tunder Bay - it sounds way cooler with an Irish accent. Thanks).

Ben's Tunder Bay Tourist Slogans:

  1. Thunder Bay - the view is great from here!
  2. Thunder Bay - come on! It's not that bad!
  3. Thunder Bay - Wait! Where are you going? Please don't leave!
  4. Thunder Bay - I hate it here! Turn this plane around! I've made a huge mistake!

That last one has a nice ring to it, don't you think?

One last little anecdote: remember how I wrote about things that can only happen in Hamilton? Well get this, I've found something that can only happen in Tunder Bay.

I get to the newspaper stand at the airport, late at night, and slap a Toronto Star down on the counter. "Are you sure you want this paper?" says the girl. "it's yesterday's."

"Yesterday's?" I repeat, checking the date. Sure enough, they're selling yesterdays paper. "Why are you selling yesterday's news?"

"This is Thunder Bay," she replies, as if this were an explanation.

I suggest to her that with five or six flights inbound from Toronto every day, maybe they could get one of the pilots to ship them some papers...?

She stared at me blankly.

"You want to buy it or not?"

I asked her if it was free, given that it was old news after all.

"Of course it's not free!" she snapped, snatching the paper away.

Only in Tunder Bay.

Anyway, that's enough prattling, I'm about to pass through the security check (they only have one) ... well, as soon as they open it. (Don't you just love little airports?)

I'd better find a place to drop this off, because you know, it's probably going to take a few weeks to arrive, being that this is Tunder Bay and all, by which time I'll probably be, oh I don't know, savouring the delights of Cleveland, Sudbury, Detroit, Oshawa - there are just so, so many places to see!

I'm going to go check out the view from the airport before I leave. It's facing away from Tunder Bay so, you know, it should be pretty good.

Bye for now!

Ben Bull lives in downtown Toronto. He's been working on a book of short stories for about 10 years now and hopes to be finished tomorrow. He also has a movie blog.

44 Comments

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By IRK (anonymous) | Posted November 27, 2008 at 08:24:03

HA HA HA. After spending 30 years in that smog filled hell hole called Toronto, Thunder bay is a breath of fresh air for me and my family. Funny to hear your critiques considering you spent six count em six years in the armpit of Canada. Oh well to each his own and really who actually reads your crappy blog anyways. For the record, I moved up here and absolutely love it and by no means would I ever return to that hazy craphole.

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By Irked (anonymous) | Posted November 27, 2008 at 09:23:13

Did you actually read the article IRK? It was mostly about how people in Thunder Bay are down on there own city, not that the city is so bad. Funny even your offended comment basically sound really defensive about Thunder Bay. Inferiority complex maybe?

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By IRK (anonymous) | Posted November 27, 2008 at 11:52:15

"I'm going to go check out the view from the airport before I leave. It's facing away from Tunder Bay so, you know, it should be pretty good."

Seems a little ironic that a guy who chooses to raise his family in downtown Toronto(where I was born and raised) is dumping on Thunder Bay. But I guess after living in lovely Hamilton he should be the expert on crapholes. To come to a place for a few days and come to so many conclusions seems a little elitist to me, but hey what do I know? Of course traffic jams, smog, over priced housing and gang shootings gives you a leg up on all us rednecks I suppose.

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By BE (anonymous) | Posted November 27, 2008 at 14:24:38

He never called you a "Redneck". You just called yourself that.

Your reading comprehension is lacking. What I took away from this article is the bizare similarities between Tunder Bay and The Hammer. People who grew up in each City absolutly loath everything about their hometown. Yet people like me (Grew up in the North, moved to Hamilton) and people like you (Grew up in Toronto, moved to Thunderbay) have grown to love our adopted Cities.

I'm saddened that you could not see this.

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By IRK (anonymous) | Posted November 27, 2008 at 14:45:06

"Perhaps it says something about your town, when the best part about the place is the view of someplace else..."

"It's a work trip, again, not that I wouldn't go to Thunder Bay by choice or anything, it's just that, well, I wouldn't go to Thunder Bay by choice."

"My first impressions weren't great. I do have a soft spot for small towns with their three-gate airports (actually I think TB has five), single-lane roads, and quirky local characters, but it was clear to me after driving five minutes into town, that TB was just another sprawl/mall town. You know how it goes - roads, malls, roads malls, single home housing, roads, malls... I could have been in Mississauga (or Woodbridge or Scarborough, or London...)."

etc,etc......

A comparison you say? Maybe YOU should reread this blog and see how often this fellas negativity pops up. I guess I remember the feelings of how great it is in the center of the universe and how the rest of Canada was full of poor uneducated hicks. It's how us Southern Ontarioians entertain ourselves when were stuck in traffic for two hours on the 401. And come on, comparing Thunder Bay to Detroit, Clevland and Oshawa clearly shows this man has no clue.




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By jason (registered) | Posted November 27, 2008 at 14:48:12

wow....I'm scared to visit T.Bay after reading these comments. Ben wasn't kidding. The people are downright negative and bitter. Yikes.

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By Trollwatcher (anonymous) | Posted November 27, 2008 at 14:58:09

Don't judge a whole city because of one anonymous troll on a random web page.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 27, 2008 at 15:03:08

I'm not....but reading all of the random comments made to Ben while he was up there and now the one person on this site who is from there , you can't help but notice a trend. Lol.

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By IRK (anonymous) | Posted November 27, 2008 at 15:15:40

"Perhaps it says something about your town, when the best part about the place is the view of someplace else..."

"It's a work trip, again, not that I wouldn't go to Thunder Bay by choice or anything, it's just that, well, I wouldn't go to Thunder Bay by choice."

"My first impressions weren't great. I do have a soft spot for small towns with their three-gate airports (actually I think TB has five), single-lane roads, and quirky local characters, but it was clear to me after driving five minutes into town, that TB was just another sprawl/mall town. You know how it goes - roads, malls, roads malls, single home housing, roads, malls... I could have been in Mississauga (or Woodbridge or Scarborough, or London...)."

etc,etc......

A comparison you say? Maybe YOU should reread this blog and see how often this fellas negativity pops up. I guess I remember the feelings of how great it is in the center of the universe and how the rest of Canada was full of poor uneducated hicks. It's how us Southern Ontarioians entertain ourselves when were stuck in traffic for two hours on the 401. And come on, comparing Thunder Bay to Detroit, Clevland and Oshawa clearly shows this man has no clue.




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By Rusty (registered) - website | Posted November 27, 2008 at 16:08:09

Hmm...where to start?! IRK, it was not my intention to dump all over Thunder Bay. I don't think I'm being overy negative either. Let me see, I said the locals are friendly (friendlier than Toronto that's for sure), I said I liked the paper mills, the Sleeping Giant, the little airport... Most of my negative comments came from the mouths of the locals I met. Everything else was just a recollection of my observations from my short trip. I wrote what I saw(and heard). If you don't like it, by all means refute my observations on this page (constructively I hope). I'd love to hear some positive comments about TB.

Ben

PS As for your persecution complex, keep in mind that I spend most of my time on RTH ragging about Toronto (just follow the links under my name for the various peices I've written). You called TO the center of the universe, not me.

Thanks for the comments.

Ben

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 27, 2008 at 16:17:18

yea, come on let's give Ben a break. After all he DID say that your airport has 5 gates, not 3.

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By Willem (anonymous) | Posted November 27, 2008 at 22:56:13

I have only lived in Hamilton for some 3+ years. Still being a college student and all I have had the opportunity to have some pretty great jobs. My favourite job in Thunder Bay. I spend 10 weeks there in the summer. And while I now there is a great difference between Thunder Bay in the summer and winter, this town is unique.
If you stand in the main hall of Union Station in Toronto you won't find Thunder Bat as one of your destinations. However, you will find Port Arthura, and Fort William. Both places were found as fur trading places and were always two different towns. When the decision was made for them to become one town -Thunder Bay. A few things went wrong. The space in between the two towns was developed - badly. The two downtowns are connected by big box stores and a classic upper james style road that takes nothing that would remotely encourage community, human scale, or walkability into consideration.
The result is quite obvious two depleted downtowns, empty stores, low-income housing, and a lot of hidden poverty and addictions. However, T-Bay is full of potential and beauty. Especially the Fort William side appeals to me. Often considered the bad side of town it shows of a once thriving small town with beautiful architecture, and a gorgeous setting along lake Superior and Mount McKay (1000ft.) always overlooking the town. Thunder Bay is not that bad.
The biggest issues facing Thunder Bay are the changing demographics it has become a refuge for many natives who want to escape from some horrible conditions at certain reserves in Northern Ontario. And too many young people want to leave Thunder Bay. All the people I met who were actually studying in Thunder Bay and planned on staying there seemed to be in either health care, social services, or forestry. No business man, entrepreneur, or visionary seems it worthy to invest in Thunder Bay. It is a shame, because it is the most beautiful part of Ontario I have ever been - it is as their slogan suggests "Superior by Nature".

ps. The sight of the sleeping giant is tremendous, however, the actual park tops it. Too bad you didn't get the chance to get our there.

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By IRK (anonymous) | Posted November 28, 2008 at 08:31:21

There are problems here just like every other city in Canada but if you scratch the surface a little deeper you will see all the positive initiatives taking place here. I have to agree that people here seem to be ragging on Thunder Bay more so then most places but they are entitled to due to the many mill closures etc. Plus property values have gone down while the rest of Canada has had a boom. But now the opposite is taking place. 8.5% rise in house prices, new medical school, waterfront development, $85,000,000 mall to be built, low unemployment, low vacancies, best income to home price ratio in the western hemisphere, etc..(Google and find much more) + surrounded by some of the most pristine widerness on the planet right beside the greatest of the great lakes, Lake Superior. Again, how can you compare this place to Detroit or Clevland?????

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By Lakehead Grad (anonymous) | Posted November 28, 2008 at 21:50:28

Spent 5 years in Thunder Bay and have got to agree with the article. I heard the "This is Thunder Bay..." excuse word for word, many times... Including for the Star being old news all the time... I actually contacted Star circulation once to ask what the problem was since the other out of town dailies arrived on time... It was only the Star that lagged a day behind... Looks like they haven't fixed the problem. Most of the locals wanted to leave too.

Not a bad place, but it's got its quirks. The indoor running track at the Canada Games complex has 3 sides. To run a full loop you got to the end of the straight, ran down a flight of stairs, across the pool deck and up a flight of stairs back onto the track... The main street that ran along the waterfront changed names something like six times from one end to the other (Hodder/Cumberland/Fort William Rd./Simpson/Water/Arthur) There were other strangely named streets such as "John Street Road" The local phone monopoly was run by the city. There is no Bell... Customer service was pretty bad and there were no options... Pretty much anything to do with the outdoors was very good while anything to do with modern society was lacking. Not counting the ultra high tech paleo-DNA lab and Silicon Graphics super computer that the university had...

Weather was nice in the summer and skiing was good in the winter too. Saw the norther lights... There are worse places to live...

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By Atlantis (anonymous) | Posted December 01, 2008 at 13:55:06

There are a lot of very positive people in Thunder Bay. This article is very true, but attitudes are rapidly changing in Thunder Bay. Thunder Bay is going through a positive economic transition and has many new progressive leaders working to diversify Thunder Bay's social and economic landscape.

Check out Opportunity Thunder Bay on facebook or www.opportunity bay.com to see these changes.

The City doesn't just have multiple natural wonders, Kakabeka Falls, Sleeping Giant, Lake Superior, Mount McKay, Ouimet & Eagle Canyons. We are home to a growing film industry, and health research - knowledged based industry.

Check Thunder Bay out! you'll be surprised whats happening here.

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By Atlantis (anonymous) | Posted December 01, 2008 at 14:00:26

*Correction!!*


Opportunity Thunder bay's website is www.opportunity thunder bay.com

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By tbay-jay (anonymous) | Posted December 01, 2008 at 16:44:20

There is only one way to settle the Hamilton vs Thunder Bay debate. Eugene Levy and Paul Shaffer in a Greco Roman wrestling match.

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By peter (anonymous) | Posted December 25, 2008 at 03:45:07

lived in tbay for two years and enjoyed it immensely. there's a lot of character in that town, though it does require some digging. in the end, there's no way i could have stayed more than a couple years. the isolation is pretty extreme - 6 hours from winnipeg, minneapolis; 7-8 hours from the sault and god knows how far from southern ontario. i'll always have a warm spot for the town though, and have returned whenever the opportunity arose.

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By car rental brisbane airport (anonymous) | Posted January 13, 2009 at 21:41:11

Sometimes , can be more usefull to rent a car
than buy one . It’s a good offert !

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By hm (anonymous) | Posted April 26, 2009 at 20:34:50

You didn't mention the crappy drivers! Hahaha but really, the locals all want to leave, when they do however they always come back. I moved here about three years ago, I hated it at first but now I love it, the air is fresh the lake is close and everything is walking distance. I would never move back to the suburbs. It is a dying town but it has so much potential. Did you say you couldn't find any transit? There is definitely a transit system and they even have bike racks on the buses now, I thought that was pretty clever although the bus times are pretty irregular. Did you see the Hoito or the Thunder Bay restaurant? Or Calicos? there are some pretty great parts to Thunderbay, you just have to put in a little effort to find them.

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By tam_in_toronto (anonymous) | Posted May 13, 2009 at 23:14:40

I found this very interesting to read as I am thinking about moving to Thunder Bay (from Toronto). I especially found Willem's comment valuable. Thank you!

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By J.R. (anonymous) | Posted June 28, 2009 at 15:13:13

I have lived in Thunder Bay, Ottawa, London, and presently Windsor. Thunder Bay is by far my favourite of these cities. There's just something about Lake Superior, the forests, mountains, and fresh air that nourishes your soul. No soul inspiring views or fresh air in southern ontario. Sigh! Can't wait to move back to T.Bay!

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By IRK (anonymous) | Posted July 06, 2009 at 10:33:49

Still some debate on this matter I see. Hamilton vs Thunder Bay is really a no brainer for anyone whos actually travelled north of highway 7. I should have refrained from commenting on this article because in truth I would rather all the millions of people in Southern Ontario's rust belt to remain there, and not actually step outside there garbage strike induced hallucinations to see the rest of the World. But come on this Ben fella was way off to compare TBay to Detroit, Clevland and Toronto's arsehole Oshawa.

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By dj (registered) | Posted August 28, 2009 at 21:00:57

Haha! This article is amazing. I've lived in Thunder Bay for 5 years and I can't wait to get out of this place. :)

About the Transit system here, it's a pretty good system considering its size (every 15-30 min weekdays and every 40 min weekends/evenings), and we have stuff like bike racks that are very convenient. The only problem is there's so many lowlifes / creeps / weirdos on the buses that some parents are scared to have their children on city buses, especially at night.

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By NorPri (anonymous) | Posted October 09, 2009 at 16:38:56

I grew up in Thunder Bay, left and returned. And I have to admit, I do find myself wondering "What was I thinking?" at times.

I love Thunder Bay - and would choose it 10x over Toronto, but it does have a lot of problems. The biggest, to my way of thinking, is the lack of jobs and needing to know the RIGHT people to get what few jobs there are.

But if you have a job lined up, Thunder Bay is a great place. People are a lot friendlier than down south. It's beautiful, clean and the summer weather is awesome (read: No humidity). Our winter does last 9 months of the year -but if you like outdoor sports and cuddling in front of a fire, it can be enjoyable.

I think a lot of the people who want to leave TBay just haven't been anywhere else! I've been all over - and there are crappy people, crappy city councils and, well, CRAP everywhere. But being so isolated, people always think the grass will be greener somewhere, anywhere, else. It's not.

I've met a lot of people, especially those at the University, who would LOVE to stay in Thunder Bay if there were jobs. Sadly, they are few and far between. (Housing is really cheap though :0)

I wish that Ben had had a more positive experience. I hope if he ever returns that he meets some people who love TBay and has the opportunity to see it through their eyes.





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By Get me outta here! (anonymous) | Posted October 29, 2009 at 21:58:49

Thunder Bay is a horrible city. I live here and it sucks. The people are nasty small mined idiots. I hate, hate, hate Thunder BAy

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By Get me outta here! (anonymous) | Posted October 29, 2009 at 22:13:58

BTW- I've lived ALL over the world, big cities and small. So my assessment of this city is just. It's a racist (Aboriginal child having his hair chopped off-google it), homophobic (gay bashing google it) town. Stay a day or two, or just keep driving.

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By IRK (anonymous) | Posted October 29, 2009 at 23:54:08

Is it that hard to actually pack up and leave? Plenty of U-Hauls in town. I hear there looking for people in Alberta and Sask. Go be bitter somwhere else. Don't forget to write. I made the mistake of being the first to comment and for laughs come back to see what crap I stirred. Truth is Tbay is infinitely better then Detroit, Clevland and Oshawa and that is all I was trying to point out. And come on, HAMILTON!!! Have you been there before? Tbay as a city has its issues and compared to Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver it's poor, but the natural environment is 2nd to none and by no means do we get 9 months of winter...Only 5.

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By 123 (anonymous) | Posted December 20, 2009 at 17:11:18

if you were at the marina park and couldnt see the bus terminal across the street then your obviously skillz are lacking and disregard your entire rant on the basis that you cant see things for what they are, even when they are right infront of you.us

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By I hated my T-Bay stay (anonymous) | Posted January 03, 2010 at 11:56:42

I grew up in Southern Ontario, and travelled with the family across Canada ---I have had some great experiences travelling and seeing this great country of ours. In July of 2007 I married my hubby who had taken a job in Thunder Bay. Lets just say in my time here in Thunder Bay I have hated 85% of my time here and count the days and weeks we have left in this city. I've never meet so many complainers in my life.........people here blame everything on people from Toronto its hilarious. They complain that all they're mills are shutting down and Toronto isn't helping them, Even though you wonder if these places in T-Bay couldn't stay with the times and come up with plans before the need for paper supplies deminished or realized how many people really are running to stores for snowmobiles, how many snowmobiles does this country need???? Wonder why everyone is losing jobs here, how about creating jobs that are up to date or invent some shit to make jobs??? Then the race war between Natives and "Whites" Its embarrassing (I'm actually Metis) and how the local Chronicle Journal posts hate letters from both sides in their Letters to the editor every week to fuel this race war....pathetic!!

I will only look back in my experience living in this city as the city limits were beautiful with nature and the fishing was excellent and the neighbours I had were lovely but this City is living in the dark ages and they hate everyone outside of Thunder Bay and are a bunch of blamers, like I said this city is pathetic!

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By Feldwebel Wolfenstool (anonymous) | Posted January 15, 2010 at 11:30:01

Sure, Thunder bay is great if you work at the hospital, or are a schoolteacher with June July and August as your best reasons for becoming one. But the city sucks donkey balls. Private Industry is dead, except for the couple of construction companies the city continually feed. The town was cut up like an apple pie 50 years ago, and the reason no business comes here is because of the monopoly attitude. City Hall even LIED about the MILLIONS they BORROWED to fix up the old fogeys' home, then did an abrupt about-face, gave the homes to the province, and took that BORROWED TAXPAYER MONEY and GAVE it to some favorite cronies. There's a law called Criminal False Prospectus, but the local fraud cops are in the pocket of City Hall.
Sure, the wilderness is nice, but don't try to actually purchase a TINY piece for yourself because it's simply not allowed. Besides, who likes being harrassed by the OPP and MNR when you're out fishing?
Yup. A great place for civil servants, their cronies and natives. Everyone else had best leave, ASAP, if you want some sort of future for yourself. Those are my plans, to sell out and split, but hey, did you know that you can't even GIVE AWAY an amethyst mine around here?

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By oops (anonymous) | Posted February 11, 2010 at 19:50:10

Stuck in Thunder Bay - it was the city or my marriage (husband's family is here). I think I may actually be clinically depressed. Thank God for Grand Marais, Duluth, Minneapolis, and our airport.

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By kimball99 (registered) | Posted June 28, 2010 at 16:21:40

Well, I spent the first 20 years of my life then moved away for school, and I gotta say, after seeing the entire country, and a good chunk of this wonderful planet we call home, I can honestly say that Thunder Bay blows. And I'm serious as can be. Unfortunately, my parents are still there so I am forced to make my way there once a year, and I dread my two weeks there. For all the people who defend this city, you're obviously fallen of your rocker.

I laughed at the clean air comments....cuz the smell of shit coming from the paper mill on a hot summer day is all so pleasant...pleasant enough that when you go to Old Fort William trading post, you know the biggest tourist attraction of the city, you can smell the nice pleasant smell of rotting shit. And when was the last time you let your children swim in boulevard lake? And hey, do you dare to walk downtown port arthur at night? No. Or how about taking a nice stroll down May street or Simpson street, at any time of the day? No. Wait, wait, let's all go to county park where it's just a massive neighborhood of violent crimes, drugs and poverty. Hmm, that won't work either. Should we make our way to the community auditiorium for a decent concert...oh shoot they don't get any. Well, I guess we can always go check out all the neat little shops/boutiques/cafes/nice restaurants....uhh, what? Their aren't any? My bad. Hey about naming one decent/pub/bar/nightclub in this city...oops, can't do that either.

Do any of you rememeber the hype in '94 when it was announced that Thunder Bay was getting the real canadian superstore? Yes, fellow readers of this blog, there was actually a ceremony for the opening of this momentus occasion. And getting the walmart around the same time was like winning the bid for the olympics..only with less economic impact, less low paying jobs, and more reasons for city council to destroy the core of the city. Also, do any of you Thunder Bayites remember the plan to build the expressway all the way out near Kakebeka, then the city ran out of money, and it ended at golf links road? For about 15 years of my life growing up, there was this giant clearing at the end of the harbour expressway(which by the way, it's only about 3 km's long LOL) and about 50 feet of pavement just left there to wither away like the Fort William Gardens. And someone here mentioned the housing prices...well there's only one reason, and one reason only for that....no money. If you all want cheap housing where you have a shot at a livable income, go to Windsor, I almost did, but I ended up in Oshawa where I currently reside. And as for Toronto and area not having nature...any of you heard of Niagara Falls? One of the natural wonders of the world. Hell, I have a cottage in havlock, located in the best known, most famous cottaging/recreational area on the planet...the muskokas. Oh but I'm sure Ouimet canyon beats Georgian bay right? Located 50 minutes from Toronto. Skiing in Thunder Bay? Ya sure. Let's go to Loch Lohmond, or Big Thunder and have the crap spewing from the paper mill blown right in our faces. And of course Mt Baldy, with what, 7 runs? Sorry, I'd much rather go to Collingwood(45 minutes from Toronto) where it actually is world class skiing and resorts, as opposed to go to a ski hill that had the World Nordic championships, and couldn't do Giant Slalom or super G.

You Tbay people can all rant about nature...but you have obviously not see the rest of the most beautiful country on the planet that we call home. Thunder Bay is a cess pool of filth, crime, and unemployment. The roads are shit, the transit, well tbay transit eh...I've seen better trasnsit in places like Regina, Swift Current, North Bay and Saint John New Brunswick. And I have yet to visit a city in my life that has more boarded up schools. Like crap man, my school, black bay road public school, has spent 15 years collecting dust. It really says alot of about a city when I can say that growing up in Current River, I lived in the best part of the city. Which ain't saying much cuz I lived a 10 minute walk from one of the largest psychiatric facilities in the country...which speaking of which, my high school was located right across the stret from.

Sorry to rant like this, but hopefully people here thinking of going to visit/move thunder bay...you'd best keep going to Kenora, Dryden or Atikokan...this way you can avoid getting your head kicked in by a gang of natives, or a gang of white folk who think your native, and also to see real nature, and not some random group of trees that we call a bush...anyone else notice that Ouimet canyone is starting to look like a dump from all the garbage thrown down there? Ok, sorry I'll stop now....after I mention the fact that Thunder Bay has the second highest percentage of people in Ontario living offof welfare...google it ;). How's that for employment prospects?

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By Elix (anonymous) | Posted August 13, 2010 at 14:03:05

Avoid Thunder Bay unless you're touring. The whole city is run on nepotism and cronyism, the city council and mayor haven't a clue on how to run the city, the economy is in the toilet, and frankly, these are all reasons why people want to move out of the city.

I've lived here all my life, and I can tell you that as a 26-year old with a background in computer animation and an English degree, there is NOTHING here for me. The people with the money don't want to see new industries come in and create competition and new jobs, the jobs that are here are for those who graduate high school and don't want to do anything else to further their education, and frankly, the paper mill is whistling past the graveyard, employing a small fraction of what it once could.

It's sad, but when you realize how incredibly stubborn and stupid the city has been in terms of bringing in new jobs or improvements, you honestly get angry and stop caring, altogether. Why? Because people in the city have been doing it for years. Soon, the city will turn into another Elliot Lake or a gigantic reserve for the First Nations. Everyone who graduates from the medical school here wants to go somewhere else for work because of the aging population and political games. Same with the university and college. What good is staying when all the answers you get while trying to get a job involve call centres, nursing and truck driving?

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By ace mc coo; (anonymous) | Posted September 21, 2010 at 11:35:11

Tbay:

More single women than in any other city. All looking for good hionest hard working solid lovers . Wonder where all the men went.

Seriously. What abeautifl City. Soon it too will become like Toronto with all its problems as it grows. I was born and raised in ottawa and since Amalgamation its called teh "new Sewertr of Ottawa" Go figure but it is a sewer. I may be going back to Tbay because i miss its small town and its nature in all its grandiose splendour. Ya either love it or hate it

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By jeancat (registered) | Posted October 24, 2010 at 17:13:00

I was born and raised in Thunder Bay. My sister and me moved to Vancouver. We were appalled at the lack of customer service, smiles and thank you's. It was almost painful!!! These people hate it here and don't mind showing it. I've moved back due to some unfortunate events and am counting the days till I leave. Don't get me wrong, it's really beautiful..but, if you're not an outdoorsy type there is little here. A cultural wasteland comes to mind. The locals like it the same(change is a scary thing!)..Tim Hortons and every restaurant featuring the same menu seems to do well. In general, the people here don't mind going for their groceries wearing their breakfast on their clothes. Racism, homophobia and sexism is the norm. Which equals people like me running very quickly in the opposite direction. Let the giant sleep.

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By read the whole thing (anonymous) | Posted November 12, 2010 at 04:17:12

WHOAH... amazing...

seems like a truly horrible place to raise kids... conflicted, restless, depressing

thanks for the discussion everyone, i can safely cross thunder bay off my list!

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By IRK (anonymous) | Posted November 17, 2010 at 12:03:26

I posted originally about the comparison of Clevland and Detroit to Thunder Bay and still defend my point of view. I just wonder why all the people "stuck" here can not manage to get out. We have at minimum 10 planes a day at reasonable rates leaving this place as well as highway 1 going east and west right in our backyard. How is it again you miserable people can't go. Bye!!! Get to the highway and go right or left and viola you are happy again right??? Like hell...these same miserable people live all over the world so if you judge a place based on some random haters on the web then you have larger issues to look after. Come and see for yourself what it is like here. If you are looking for glitzy bright lights then move on but the nature around this place is unbelievable and I have definitely been coast to coast in Canada. Unbelievable I tells ya.

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By TBay (anonymous) | Posted July 11, 2011 at 22:33:25

Many people like myself love Thunder Bay and having been from coast to coast would live nowhere else. Pure air compared to southern Ontario.Great fishing and wild places

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By Tbay (anonymous) | Posted July 11, 2011 at 22:36:21

What would cause you to want to live any place but TBay? The Hoito restaurant is super, entertainment is second to none.

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By dane.in.thunderbay (anonymous) | Posted October 15, 2011 at 08:21:29

next time your in thunder bay u can go into the grain elevator on the waterfront your talking about yourself just go at night and with someone whos been there, its pretty cool actually. you can make it right to the top and hang off the flagpole on the roof. lots of people go there for kicks

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By dane.in.thunderbay (anonymous) | Posted October 15, 2011 at 08:48:12

also thunder bay isnt bad if your not one of these computer geeks. i know ur gona say " oh well ur on here too" , ya and im shocked i figured it out lol. thunder bay is a place for great friends and good times drinkin by the fire , just cuz you dont like that sort of thing doesnt mean its a bad place. and ya employment isnt great around here if your lazy and just want a job handed to you. take a step and go out and do it yourself, create your own business or idea. i did and i make plenty of money to support my family and have a good time. theres shit everywhere including here, its all about how u handle it cuz i know for a fact theres alot of good things here too.

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By Will in Thunder Bay (anonymous) | Posted February 09, 2013 at 17:15:23

If you like a small airport you would have liked it a lot more before it was expanded in the mid 1990s (it was about a 1/3 of it's size then); Also, if you were here before 1990, VIA would have been running.

If you were looking non big box stores one place would have been the Bay/Algoma St. area.

If you are wondering why many of the locals are down on their town there is: the lack of jobs unless you have connections or luck, some of the stupidest most myopic car driver's in the country along with badly synchronized lights that makes for needless stop-and-go traffic, mediocre city transit that has limited evening times and ends around midnight, needless urban sprawl that goes beyond the large city limits. There always seems to be the need to tear down much of the old to build something new (with no guarantees on workmanship and costs way over estimates). The fix is also in on many things from the vote for the city name (purposely splitting the vote by offering 'Lakehead', 'The Lakehead', and 'Thunder Bay) to city council asking for citizen opinion on big projects when it already has it's mind made up to if, how big, and where they will be, to local contractors being the tail that wags the dog on city building fixing and building projects.

The isolation of the city doesn't help - you are a good 7 hour drive from anywhere bigger (Minneapolis and Winnipeg). The only close city of around the same size is Duluth/Superior.

As far as the comment by IRK wondering why people who are "stuck" here don't leave. The cost of living isn't too high (that may change if the local gov't keeps increasing taxes for it's many recent white elephant projects), they may still have friends and family here or other commitments, and who is going to leave unless they have a better job lined up elsewhere without a skyrocketing cost to their housing. The philosophy being the devil you know is better than the one you don't even if you are working several McJobs (which IRK probably isn't - if you have a regular secure good paying job anywhere can be good).

The recent "boom" mentioned by IRK doesn't help anyone who has been here for a while and doesn't have very recent education and experience in the precise field needed. Most of the "boom" only helped those outside of the city getting a job here and only slightly indirectly helped a few here.

Many people here would hate living in a mega city; especially those that love having nature/outdoor activities always close by.

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By TBA (anonymous) | Posted August 12, 2013 at 19:32:38

Having lived all over Canada and multiple places overseas I can say with confidence that Thunder Bay is indeed a shit hole. The author of this article shouldn't be criticized, he manage to point out a few nice points about this place, which is not an easy task. The nature surrounding Thunder Bay is fantastic, the city itself is shit.
Living in Thunder Bay is kind of like living in some sort of groundhog-day-esque, 1980's surrealist nightmare complete with mullets, hair band classic rock, Reganistic attitudes towards anything progressive but without any of the jobs that came with the 80's.
Most trucks are jacked up higher than their drivers IQ's. Vomiting spaghetti on a map would probably have been a more sensible and aesthetically pleasing approach to city planning. Locals are not welcoming unless you have wallowed in the same gene puddle together for most of your life. Plus it snowed into May this year, which is some whole new level of bullshit anywhere south of the 60th parallel.
I cannot wait to be done work here and get the hell out. I have been here off and on for about 5 years, having spent the last 2 years here in a row and can say with the utmost confidence that when I pack up and leave this little backwards frozen-turd-nugget of a town I will never return. Sorry for the negativity but other than nice nature T-Bay has no redeeming qualities whatsoever!

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