A Mystical Birds Eye View of Thunder Bay

A spectacular view of the city from the lookout on top of Mount McKay

Mount McKay Lookout

I could see the city stretched out along the north shore of Lake Superior and the outline of the Sleeping Giant.



I first spotted the reference to this Thunder Bay attraction as a small marking on my tourist map.

As I wolfed down a Sausage McMuffin at a fast food joint near the airport, I looked over to one side of the map and saw a marking for a lookout point on Mount McKay.

What the heck, I thought, as I wanted to get a birds-eye view of Thunder Bay, a Northern Ontario city that I was exploring for the first time.

Mount McKay giant view

I drove down, crossed the Kaministiquia River onto Fort William First Nation and followed the signs, admiring the view of a rocky outcropping looming high overhead like an ancient beacon.

I paid a guy at the gate $5, then drove the pretty, winding road to the top, where I was greeted with a lush, green, wide open meadow and sweeping views.

Out to my right I could gaze to the south and spot the happily named Pie Island.

A little further on, near a giant statue of an eagle with outstretched wings, I could look east and see the city stretched out along the north shore of Lake Superior and the outline of Sleeping Giant Provincial Park.

Mount McKay eagle statue

I snapped away for a minute or two, soaking up the view and the sky and the lake and the deep green trees, then wandered over to check out a tepee sitting on the edge of a meadow.

It was a little dusty and cool inside on an 18 degree day but you could see how it would be a cozy spot to bed down for the night or hide from the elements, not that Thunder Bay ever has elements.

As I walked over to a raised platform with lookouts to the north and east, I passed under a tree and decided to see what the mountain looked like from that angle.

What I saw instead was sheer, unexpected magic; a giant rainbow encircling the northern Ontario sun. I might have heard of a sun circle or a sun ring, but I’d certainly never seen one.

Mount McKay sun ring

I quickly grabbed my camera and started snapping, my fingers awkwardly slipping the exposure buttons to and fro so I could offer up different types of shots.

Within seconds the ring started to dissipate. Perhaps 10 seconds (I don’t know, to be honest, I was mesmerized and felt time was standing still in some sort of spiritual rite) went by and the ring started to fade.I took a couple more shots and shook my head, trying to comprehend what my eyes had just seen.

I walked across the meadow a few feet and spotted a guy with a nice camera, who turned out to be a professional photographer visiting from Calgary. We compared notes and photos and exchanged business cards, all the time with a “did we really just see that” look on our faces.

I took a couple pictures of a family out enjoying the view, then walked back to my car. I drove back into town, smiling the whole way.

 

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