I’ve been way overdue for a visit to Thunder Bay, and more importantly, my friend Jen and her family. A few months back, I decided I better get my act together and book a trip. Thanksgiving long weekend seemed like a great time of the year to go!

I headed out on Tuesday before Thanksgiving, since it was going to take 5 flights over two days to get there! It was a lovely flight out of Dawson City.

I flew to Whitehorse for the night, then had a flight to Vancouver, then Edmonton, to Winnipeg, and finally got to Thunder Bay at 1am on Thursday.

It is always beautiful flying over the Rockies!
I had a great view on all the flights!  I’d also highly recommend watching the new Baywatch movie! No, I’m not kidding!It was so good to see Jen running across that airport at 1am when she sacrificed her sleep to pick me up! We were roommates back in University. I had many great roommates but Jen and I have done a half decent job of visiting each other every few years despite me moving across the country, and her being super busy raising a family now.

The next morning, I got to see her children briefly before school. I’ve met them all before, but they were all too young to remember. They are all so fun! Really great, interesting, likeable kids. I had a great a time hanging out with them, as much as I did with Jen and Ian I think!

The next day I got to see the school and their classrooms during drop off, and then while Jen headed off to work, I wandered around Thunder Bay. So many memories! I lived there for about 5 years and probably in just as many houses. I moved away in 1999. So much is the same, but there are new things too! Like these super weird statues:
I thought I’d start my visit to Thunder Bay off right, with a stop at the HoitoDespite it being only 10am, they were all too eager to serve me my old time favourite, the turkey sandwich, with gravy and fries. It was pretty similar to how it was 20 years ago! The fries aren’t crinkly anymore, but the sandwich was thick with turkey and rich with gravy and it was delicious. 

Groaning, with a belly full of gravy, turkey, and fries, I climbed the steep hill and stairs up to Hillcrest Park. The Sleeping Giant was calling my name and I couldn’t wait to see it!

There it is! What a view! What a gorgeous day!

I sat on a park bench for awhile, feeling so nostalgic. Then I walked back down Memorial Drive. The old TacoTime sign was one of the first things I remember seeing when I arrived in Thunder Bay in 1994. There it is!

I wandered through Best Buy and Chapters, and grumbled at Petsmart when they wouldn’t let me wear my backpack in the store. Some things about Thunder Bay really never change! I know I had the same rant with the Superstore in 1994!

Then I wandered all through the Intercity mall. Some stores haven’t changed in years, but parts of it were unrecognizable. I missed Zellers and the dollar store!

After that, I headed up to the Persian Man. Gotta have a Persian when you’re in Thunder Bay! I followed up that sugar bomb with some shoe shopping. Picked up a pair of Oboz hikers at Gear up for the Outdoors and I love love love them! Even more than my old Merrills.Tasted some great beers during my visit.The Sleeping Giant Brewing Company is new since I’ve been in town, and is right by Jen’s work so I picked up a few things to take home for Jeff and Hank (they make beer beef jerky, and dog cookies with the by-products of brewing!).

Friday morning I wandered all around town again, and then met Jen for lunch at a new salad place – Rebel Salad. This place is genius! And delicious! You grab a slip of paper and get to pick so many items from specific categories and they whip up a fresh salad with the ingredients you picked. I’d eat there every day if I was closer!After lunch we watched some of Jack’s soccer game, and then I had fun time at the trampoline with Lily and Katie. On Friday night, I was invited to join Jen and a bunch of her girl friends for a girls night out, which included some food, snacks, drinks, and then we went to a haunted 18+ outing at Old Fort William.  We wandered through the buildings at the fort in the dark, while things jumped out to scare the bejeezus out of us for over an hour! There were strobe lights, screams, surprise fireworks, spider webs, zombies, witches, and gore. I got a good chuckle of Jen hanging on to the back of my shirt. It was so much fun to go through it with a big bunch of us!

The next day Jen and the kids took me up to their sugar maple lot to see the trees and the sugar shack.
Other than timing a visit right for watching the syrup making process, I can’t imagine a better time for a hike. The big maple leaves were falling all around us, and the woods smelled so much like autumn and leaves. My new hikers preformed flawlessly and kept my socks dry and white while walking through muddy water holes along the trail. We had a little picnic at the sugar shack and the kids gave me a tour and Jen showed me how the syrup boiler worked. We celebrated our hike up the hill with some Smarties!The next day I tagged along with the family for a Thanksgiving potluck and pool party at their friend’s Doug and Katie’s house. I’d met many of these friends before, so it was pretty neat to see a bunch of them now with children. The food was amazing. Well maybe not the vegan tofu keto Thanksgiving dishes, haha, but I was fooled into thinking the cauliflower I was eating was mashed potatoes! The next day, a bunch of us went canoeing and kayaking! Jen and I had Lily and a friend in one canoe, Ian and his mom had Jack in theirs, another couple Jayme and Shaun had Katie and their son in their canoe, and Jen’s sister and brother each had a kayak, while our friend Karen, also from our forestry class, was on a paddle board! I’m pretty sure I’ve never canoed in October before!I have zero photos of our canoe trip. Turns out I’m super nervous with kids in a canoe, thinking they were going to send me into the drink. ha! It was fun though! We were at Hazelwood Lake and paddled out the river to the lake, only to turn around when we hit the bigger waves on the lake.

Afterwards, we headed back to Karen’s place for a nice casual Thanksgiving meal and hung out in her backyard with a campfire. How perfect is this!?

We wrapped up the day with a soak in the hot tub. I’m pretty sure I need one of these!

On Tuesday morning, I tagged along with Jen to a smudging ceremony at the school. Really nice to see them corporate this into the public schools!

That afternoon, Ian asked if I wanted to go up with him for one of his remote sensing jobs  in his plane. Uhm, yes please! Ian is a pilot. I don’t know why you don’t have a pilot friend, because you should. Then you can see some cool things like this:I don’t know what any of it does, but Ian seemed like he did, so I was actually not at all nervous or scared, unlike in the canoe.I got a really different view of the airport in a co-pilot’s seat listening to the air traffic control. And once we got up in the air, I even got to help!

Well really, I don’t know if I was actually helpful, but I got to see how the LiDAR equipment worked and call out how high or low our altitude was compared to where we needed to be. This wasn’t near as easy as it sounds since the altitude changes as the terrain under us changed!

Then, before we packed it in for the day, we visited Kakabeka Falls! I thought seeing the beautiful Kakabeka Falls in all seasons was worth bragging about, but that is nothing compared to seeing it at the end of the wing when you’re in a plane on its side!

Actually here’s a quick little video of one of our circles around the falls!

And here’s a view of the mill as we headed back to the airport.

We came in along the cliffs on the south end of town, seeing the abandoned old ski jumps at Big Thunder, and the lookout at Mount McKay.During the visit, I talked a lot about Dawson City and the Klondike Gold Rush (as I do) and the kids were really interested in gold mining. Luckily I had brought 3 little gold mining kits from Dawson with me, each with some gold buried in a bag of sand.

Look at the enthusiastic little gold miners!They all found gold! It was so much fun!And there’s the face of the gold fever’s latest victim!

I’m in Whitehorse now, with just one flight left to go before I’m home to Jeff and Hank. It’s so cheesy, but my heart is so full. I had the best visit and I really can’t wait to see them all again. Thanks Jen and Ian! See you soon Jeff!


Lisa (Verkley) Schuyler is a blogger reporting live from her new home in Canada's Yukon Territory. Often found wearing a hoodie, covered in pet hair, Lisa is a mis-placed forester who now spends her days engineering happiness for WordPress users. Lisa loves nature, animals, and most importantly, her handsome husband Jeff.

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