Lake Superior and Thunder Bay - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to Lake Superior and Thunder Bay

The rugged, rocky north shore of Lake Superior, the world's largest freshwater lake, provides Ontario with an exciting tourist attraction where visitors can discover deep chasms, plunging waterfalls and towering granite cliffs carved by the ancient glaciers. There are untold numbers of lakes, rivers and forests in the region, which are an fisherman's paradise, a history buff's haven, an artist's inspiration and a delight for naturalists.

The main centre in the region is the city of Thunder Bay, located on the Trans-Canada Highway, in the heart of Native American country. This city is the western terminus for the St Lawrence Seaway. At Thunder Bay the Sleeping Giant provincial park is a big drawcard, named for the shape of a rocky outcrop at the site that extends into Lake Superior. Another popular attraction is the Amethyst Mine Panorama, which is a working quarry that offers walking tours, as Thunder Bay sits on one of the largest Amethyst deposits in the world.

Information & Facts


Thunder Bay's cliamte is controlled largely by Lake Superior. The result is cooler summers and warmer winters than many nearby regions of Canada. Summers are mild and well-suited to outdoor sports and activities, while the winters can be bitterly cold for visitors not used to extreme temperatures.

The official languages are English and French (predominantly in Quebec).

The currency used is the Canadian Dollar (CAD), which is divided into 100 cents. One-dollar coins are also known as loonies (due to the picture of a loon, a type of bird, on the coin), and two-dollar coins as toonies. Banks and bureaux de change will change money and travellers cheques, as will some hotels, but the rate will not be as good. Major credit cards are widely accepted and ATMs are plentiful. US Dollars are largely accepted, though due to fraud, larger notes might not be and change is usually given in Canadian dollars.

Canada covers six time zones, from GMT 8 in the west to GMT -3.5 in the east.

Ontario's official gemstone, amethyst, is one of the many natural resources found on the north shore of Lake Superior. The coloured crystalline silica mineral quartz found in this area comes in beautiful shades, like Precious Purple and Thunder Bay Lavender. Visitors can mine their own amethyst at the Panorama Mine, 35 miles (56km) east of Thunder Bay, which is the site of the largest deposit of amethyst in north America, discovered in 1955. The mine currently produces 40 percent useable amethyst by volume and has a large digging area open to the public that contains 20 percent useable amethyst. All one needs is a bucket and spade to enjoy a mining experience.

Visitors can travel back in time to 1815 at an authentic duplicate of Old Fort William, the inland headquarters of the North West Company of Montreal, located at Thunder Bay just nine miles (14km) upstream from the site of the original fort on the bank of the Kaministiquia River. The North American fur trade is a part of Canada's colourful past that has been brought to life at the fort, with recreations of the characters, sounds, sights and smells of the operating fort as it would have been almost two centuries ago. The sprawling 20-acre site contains more than 42 fully-equipped historic buildings to be explored, among the assortment of fort inhabitants who include Ojibwa Natives, Scots gentlemen, French Canadian voyagers, craftsmen and farm labourers, dressed in period costume and busy with their daily chores.

This 24,400-hectare provincial park is set on a rugged peninsula near Thunder Bay resembling a sleeping giant. Known as the 'park of legends' it was inhabited for 9,000 years by natives who fished and hunted in the rolling, forested terrain dotted with lakes, which is still roamed by lynx and wolf. It is possible to hike to the top of granite cliffs for spectacular views of Lake Superior, or in winter to explore the trails on skis or snowshoes. The park also supports an exceptional mix of plant life, and in a bog in the park's southern end grow two rare orchids, the Adder's Mouth and the Striped Orchid. There are 24 types of orchid growing here altogether, and ferns abound. More than 190 species of bird have been recorded in the park, which is also home to white-tailed deer, red fox, porcupine, moose, bears, wolf and lynx.

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