Sunday, August 3, 2008

Wild Goose Beach a Local Legendary Favorite

Sometimes some of the best experiences are the simplest.

One of my favorite summer getaways is one not 15 minutes from the city, doesn't take a lot of time from a busy day, doesn't cost any admission and in the words of my good friend Steve Bruno, "irons the wrickles out of my soul."

Wild Goose beach is a very small sand beach on the shore of Lake Superior in Shuniah township. A 15 minute drive down Lakeshore drive from Thunder bay's north side gets you to this little gem, a place where you can take a timeout for an hour before getting back on the ice for that full contact game called life.. I've been going there since I was a child and while my wife and I are not frequent users, we've headed out for an hour at a time, to swim in Superior's refreshing clear water with sand beneath our feet, lay on a blanket to get some sun or just people watch.

There's nothing fancy about the place and thats what makes it so relaxing. Its a thin strip of beach that stretches about 400 feet at best, a grassy hill, ample parking and lots of shade trees. If you go during a mid-summer warm day, expect a few hundred other people with the same idea. Dinner time always sees the crowds thin out to a few dozen at the most and with late sunsets and warm evenings, its still great swimming. An abandoned Canadian National Rail line still cuts through the park and weeds growing up through the ties. A pedestrian crossing connecting the parking from the beach still exists and the signage and the sight of the rails still has people looking both ways when they cross, despite the overgrown growth along the way.

The water is crystal clear and typically warms up more in August, and the view of the bay and of a rather "headless" sleeping Giant" makes for a great backdrop. My wife and I will stop at Maltese's Italian Grocery on Algoma Street and get some fresh meats, buns and fruit and head on out with our blanket, swim trunks and a backgammon board for a couple of hours, either after work or during the weekends.

The park is a local gem and a great discovery for visitors looking to enjoy the lake Superior swimming experience and see the area from a new and relaxing perspective.

What to Bring:

You don't need much to enjoy Wild Goose Beach and it is accessible only by automobile. Bringing yourself, family, friends, kids pail and shovel, sunscreen, a blanket, swim trunks and a picnic lunch should guarantee a relaxing time.

Directions on Getting There:

Wild Goose Beach is easy to get to. Travelling westbound on 11/17, turn left at Lakeshore Drive and follow the signs, looking for the park on your left, just after the Lakeshore Lodge.

From the City, Take Hodder Avenue, turning at Arundal towards Strathcona Golf Course and stay on the road as it turns to Lakeshore Drive) as it loops behind the course, under a rail bridge and past the water treatment plant. Continue for about 10 kilometers and the park will be on your right.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sailing Superior offers New Discoveries

I've grown up on Lake Superior and for much of my thirty six years, I've spent time on it, whether on a sailboat, powerboat or kayak.

Last week, I had the chance to explore Thunder Bay's outer harbour with four Japanese travel journalists aboard's Frodo, a beutiful 44-foot sloop rigged vessel that can deliver a fun filled Lake Superior sailing experience for up to 12 guests. The journalists were in Thunder Bay on a tour called "Four Days With the Giant" that we put together with Ontario Tourism Marketing Corporation ( and Ontario Parks ( to promote the Thunder Bay area and in particular, Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, easily one of Canada's best kept secrets as a natural wonder (a story for another day)

With catered dinner from Good News on the Lake delivered to the vessel from their Marina Park location just 100 feet or so away from the dock, we departed on a four hour tour that, even for me, delivered new and pleasant surprises.

Starting with the stop at the Thunder Bay Lighhouse, a grand white and red trimmed lighthouse perched on the edge of the breakwall protecting Thunder Bay's harbour. While the interior of this automated light has been reportedly refurbished, visitors can only walk the concrete and steel decking under and around it. It provided a great spot to take pics looking back at the city and out into the Bay and offered our Japanese guests the chance to happily photograph, not only the views, but model turned Captain Gregory Heroux, owner of Frodo and a few other great vessels operating out of Marina Park.

From here, we untied and motored into the open lake looking for wind and we soon found it, coming right at us, typically, from where we wanted to go. After tacking through the inconsistent wind, we made our way closer to our dinner time anchorage, a sheltered bay on the east side of Bee Island, the more southern of the two Welcome Islands that greet hundreds of commercial and recreational boaters annually and signaling to them that they are "almost there"

At anchor in about 20 feet of water and with no wind, we brought supper up from the galley and enjoyed local cuisine dockside, a meal experience that doesn't get much better for a sun drenched July evening in Thunder Bay. Fernande Vezeau of Good News prepared her customary best; an array of unique salads, locally raised pork short ribs, smoked fresh local Whitefish and a corucopia of irresistable desserts and fresh fruit. We enjoyed this meal against the backdrop of the world's greatest lake and a small wooded island with beaches covered in driftwood from decades of wave action.

The real treat of this one hour stop wasn;t what was served on the boat but was served on the eyes and ears from the nearby shore. The unihabited island is home to a blue heron rookery and our precence created a cachaphony of both baby and adult Herons in a song that sounded...and I kid you not... exactly like monkeys chirping in a jungle. Our new friends aboard the vessel, used to more tropical climates, were quick to point it out. It was an amazing and relaxing experience to sit, iced green tea in hand, on deck in the mid evening sun listening to these exotic sounds coming not four miles from downtown Thunder Bay's waterfront.

As the sun set and the temperature dropped, we pulled anchor and sailed, this time with the wind behind us, back to Prince Arthur's Landing, where we shared stories, grew new friendships and parted ways in the warm July twilight once dockside. offers daily harbour tours as well as custom designed multi day tours and sailing school programs out of Thunder Bay's Prince Arthur's Landing. contact for more information.

Monday, May 12, 2008

May's Kick off to Spring

The May long weekend signals the start of the summer season. Its the official opening of the fishing season for the most part, Big ole' Lake Superior is completely ice free and the boats are starting to fill up the marina slips. The trees are starting to bud and the perrenial's new growth is peeking out of the soil.

With this, many of the city's major attractions ramp up their spring and summer hours. There are a variety of activities to keep one occupied, including the must see Fort William Historical Park (, the Thunder Bay Museum, Thunder Bay Art Gallery ( and the latest show playing at Magnus Theatre.

It's also when the events calander kicks it up a notch with the emergence of the Kite Festival at Chippewa Park, and this years big spring treat, the Great Weekend on June 6th featuring Boston as they kick off their world tour right here on the shores of Lake Superior.

For a more passive recreational experience, the walking trails around Boulevard Lake and Centennial Park provide a respite from a busy day and the countless local restaurant are ready to satisfy culinary cravings for those seeking something unique.

For up to date information, click on for news on upcoming events and attractions.