Located in Westfort, the Wayland is known near and far, and is one of the most successful bars in Thunder Bay. Major music stars have hung out here after performing at the Community Auditorium, along with famous hockey players between seasons, quietly enjoying a beer and listening to local bands.
For over nearly 80 years the Wayland Bar and Grill has served up fun and food in Westfort. The Paulucci family took over nine years ago. Gary Paulucci loves his bar and his many regulars. When asked if would ever retire, Gary gives a grimace and states seriously: “The guy will have to come in and measure me. I love it here.”
Gary feels incredibly fortunate to have the support of the community, as are the musicians who play Friday and Saturday nights. “We have so much good local talent, we don’t have enough weekends to have them all.” And Westfort loves their music; however, he says, “they’ll let you know when the band stinks.”
American tourists come for the music as well. One fan made his own poster to promote the Wayland and stuck it on a wall in a bar in Nashville. A band member of The Irish Descendants saw it and when on tour across Canada, some time later, came in to the Wayland and partied all night.
A section of the original building that is the Wayland was taken from its original site along the Kam River back in 1936. The grandson of the original owner told Gary how in mid-winter, the original construction was a general store and for it to be moved, horses had to drag the entire building on the back of a giant sled construction. “This guy’s grandmother was cooking in the house while it was being moved,” remarks Gary. “It was a long process, and she would come out when the workers stopped and serve them hot meals.” That general store has been reconstructed and added to since then, some of it by neighbourhood carpenters who did the work for draft beer.
Aside from the performances another attraction is the patio and BBQ pit, open every Friday. Gary says his son takes three days to prepare the ribs by smoking them, marinating, and cooking them to perfection. “I really don’t know what he does. Ask him. They’re the best ribs in town. They just melt.”
The Wayland hosts many annual local events: 80s parties, Strongman Competitions, and Nightmare on Gore Street, which is the longest running Halloween party in Thunder Bay. “I could use three buildings for that—biggest event of the year,” says Gary.
And lest I forget, they have a full menu for which you can dine in or take out. They serve up healthy heaps of comfort food during the day and for the party crowds at night.
Gary scans the room. There are about 30 customers as we speak and it’s only 4:30 pm. Gary nods sincerely and says: “They’re good people.”