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Ship Watching in Thunder Bay

The lure of Superior

While visiting Thunder Bay on business, I found myself with extra time to explore a community I knew little about.

Naturally, my exploration lead me to the water...specifically Marina Park.  What a hub of activity!  From kids of all ages skating and riding their bikes on the skateboard plaza, people out doing tai chi or walking their dogs, sail boats coming and going and a few triumphant souls cleaning their Lake Superior catch of trout at the fish cleaning station, it was clear to me why so many people loved being in this city.

What caught my attention the most while looking out over the water was that this fantastic body of fresh water that is the recreational hub of the community is also a working port.  Looking north and south to the towering grain elevators that line the waterfront was the first sign of the international role this city plays in feeding the world. 

Boats in the Harbour

I sat on a bench, coffee in hand just watching the activities around me.  A tug boat easing a huge bulk carrier - over 700 feet long I was told - from a berth at one of the grain docks.  A look out into the harbour towards the Sleeping Giant revealed two more ships at anchor, waiting to come in and load their cargo for destinations near and far.  

Looking to the south end of the park, I noticed something even more surprising.  The top decks and stack of a visiting cruise ship docked right near the park, its features towering over the trees.  This, I later learned, is mile zero of the St Lawrence Seaway.  This is the farthest west in Canada ships can travel.  It is here that grain, coal and other natural resources from the west arrive on rail cars and are bound for the world and where other cargoes arrive by ship headed inland. 

Perhaps it was the laughter of the kids skating nearby or the enjoyment I got watching ships move around the harbour but it all made me feel like a kid again.  In fact, it kicked off a passion I never knew I had. Ship watching.  I never thought I'd find ships this size in the middle of Canada.

I flew home later that afternoon and as the plane took off easterly to Toronto, I looked out the window below at the waterfront, the marina and the ships I had watched hours ago and thought about how amazing it must be to live on a lake that feeds the world and feeds the recreational appetites of those who live on it.



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