Located on Lake Superior, Thunder Bay - population 112,486 in the 2001 Census - serves as a starting point for a drive around the lake. Even though the city of Thunder Bay is situated geographically in the centre of Canada, its harbor is the country's third largest and welcomes ships from around the world who have negotiated the St. Lawrence River and locks on the Great Lakes to reach the most westerly Canadian inland port.
It also has historical attractions, beautiful parks, dozens of restaurants with diverse menus, a growing number of Bed & Breakfasts, an art gallery, golf courses and shopping.
As the gateway to the country north of Lake Superior and within easy reach of four provincial parks, Thunder Bay is known for having Ontario’s best cross-country skiing and alpine skiing. Enthusiasts love the fact hat the ski season is long, often lasting 4 months, from late December to late March.
Ice climbing, where you essentially climb up a frozen waterfall, is a sport that has grown in popularity in years past. Some of the best ice climbing in the world is found around Lake Superior, considered the third best climbing destination in North America (after Colorado and New Hampshire).
During the other months of the year, fishermen come here for superb fishing. Outdoorsmen and their families appreciate great camping and hiking amenities, and unlimited canoe and boating routes.
The beauty of the country around Thunder Bay goes beyond its surface. Several amethyst mines have shops in the city. Amethyst is a variety of the common mineral quartz. Its crystal form (hexagonal pyramidal), its purple color that symbolizes royalty, its hardness and luster, and its common occurrence in northwestern Ontario but scarcity elsewhere in Canada ideally has qualified it as the Provincial Legislature's choice as a mineral emblem for Ontario.
Situated in an agricultural, lumbering, mining, and fishing region, Thunder Bay is a major port, with extensive grain storage facilities. The grain elevators represent the greatest concentration of grain in the world (110 million bushels).
Thunder Bay is also a commercial and manufacturing center. Products include paper, lumber, chemicals, transportation and farming equipment, metal goods, and building materials. Tourism plays an important part in the city's economy. Thunder Bay is the site of Lakehead University (established in1965).
In recent times, Thunder Bay has hosted a number of important national and international events, including the 1981 Jeux Canada Summer Games, the 1995 World Nordic Ski Championships, the 9th annual Scouts Canada Jamboree in 1997, and annually, the Scott Tournament of Hearts and JVC/TSN Women's Skins Game curling competitions.
In the winter months, the superb, local alpine and nordic ski areas host local, national and international ski and snowboard events almost every month of the season.