Go north into nature, with flights from Sault Ste. Marie to Thunder Bay.
The stunning scenery of Northwestern Ontario surrounds this city on the shores of Lake Superior. From the churning cascades of Kakabeka Falls, to the sheer drops of Eagle Canyon, Thunder Bay’s landscapes are wildly beautiful. With plenty of things to do in the wilderness and the city, Thunder Bay balances nature with culture.
Thunder Bay’s natural beauty is framed in the 1,200 artworks of the Thunder Bay Art Gallery. Gaze at the city as seen through the eyes of artists like Roy Thomas and Benjamin Chee Chee in this cultural institution. The city’s performing arts scene takes to the stage in the Magnus Theatre, located in the historic Central School building.
The city’s former courthouse and police station now serves to house the Thunder Bay Historical Museum. In this collection of local lore, you’ll find everything from gas masks to gramophones. Thunder Bay’s fur trading days live on in the Fort William Historical Park, where historically accurate structures and costumes recreate Thunder Bay as it stood in the early 1800’s.
If peeking into Thunder Bay’s past has left you peckish, break for lunch at one of the city’s eateries. Thunder Bay’s restaurants have been cooking up a storm in the last few years, as the city’s food scene started heating up. For a classic treat, take a bite out of the Persian. This pink pastry from the Persian Man bakery is sure to satisfy even the sweetest tooth.
After dessert, hop aboard a boat tour to make your way to the sweet escape of Pie Island. With Mount McKay and the Sleeping Giant mesas also nearby, Thunder Bay is home to some towering natural wonders.
Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is just the start of the city’s surrounding green spaces. Make the most of Northwestern Ontario’s natural marvels in the city’s surrounding nearby provincial parks. Set a course for the sparkling Silver Falls Provincial Park, or venture into Pigeon River Provincial Park, to get the full Northwestern Ontario experience before flying back to Sault Ste. Marie.
Whether you start or finish your trip from Sault Ste. Marie with a visit to Little Finland, this heritage rich neighbourhood will be a highlight of your trip.
Thunder Bay boasts one of the largest populations of Finnish speakers outside of Finland. During the 1870s, many Finns arrived to work in Thunder Bay’s logging camps. In the thick woods of the rugged landscape surrounding the city, lumber labourers built Thunder Bay’s timber industry.
Out of the woods, these bush workers settled in the Little Finland area. Today, this Nordic neighbourhood keeps Thunder Bay’s Finnish heritage alive and well. The Finnish Labour Temple was once the meeting place for Finnish workers. Above the entrance, a Latin inscription reads “Labor Omnia Vincit” or “labour conquers all”, commemorating the importance of Thunder Bay’s working population.
Now, the Temple (also called the Finlandia Club or Big Finn Hall), houses a small museum, dances, and heritage festivals celebrating all things Finnish. Acting as a venue for the Bay Street Film Festival and Finnish Canadian art exhibitions, this hundred-year-old building is always bustling.
The basement of the Finlandia Club houses The Hoito restaurant. Serving up Finnish classics like Finnish pancakes with a side of nostalgia, this eatery is as popular now as it was when it first opened to labouring loggers.
Pair another classic Finnish experience with your meal at Kangas Restaurant and Sauna, which combines, well, a restaurant and a sauna. Throughout the neighbourhood, there are plenty more saunas to stop in for a quick steam during your trip from Sault Ste. Marie.
Before you leave Little Finland, be sure to explore the area’s retail offerings. For Finnish goods, there’s no place like Finnport, which has been stocking brands like Moomin and Marimekko since 1975. A stop in this shop is the perfect finish to a day in Little Finland.
If you’re looking for the peace and quiet of the wilderness during your trip from Sault Ste. Marie, set off for the 460,000 hectares of Quetico Provincial Park.
Rumbling waterfalls and rough cliffs compose the rugged landscapes that cover Quetico. Thick pine and spruce woods surround the shorelines of the rivers and lakes that dot the parkland.Throughout this wildly beautiful park, you’ll find over 200 kinds of bird soaring overhead, including eagles and osprey.
Your best bet for birdwatching in Quetico is to take the park’s 35 km of hiking trails. Keep an eye on the skies as you stroll, for a chance of spotting these avian inhabitants.
To start your hike, step onto the trailhead at the Dawson Trail Campground. Get a taste for the wilderness on the Whiskey Jack Trail, which begins along a boardwalk and descends into the thick woods of mossy lowland. Learn a thing or two about hiking on the Teaching Trail, which challenges trekkers with a mix of steep hills and rough terrain.
After exploring the park’s paths, pick up a paddle and take to the water along Quetico’s canoe routes. Lakes and rivers provide portaging and paddling access to the heart of the park. Relax on the waters of McAree Lake, accessible from the Lac La Croix entry points.
If you want to traverse more of the park’s area (and have 13 days to spare), voyage across the Carp Lake-Hunter’s Island Loop route. Spanning 379 miles, over a series of 29 portages and 25 lakes, this route takes you deep into Quetico’s nature. Whichever paddling path you pick, you’ll have plenty of swimming spots to choose from to cool off in the backcountry.
When the water gets too cold for swimming, the park’s winter activities heat up. Venture through Quetico’s winter wonderland on ski and snowshoe trails, which begin at the Dawson Trail Campground. The park’s ski and seasonal events will warm you up on even the coldest winter days.
Whichever season you plan your trip from Sault Ste. Marie, you’ll find amazing outdoor activities in this provincial park.
Fly from Sault Ste. Marie Airport (YAM) to Thunder Bay International Airport (YQT), with a quick connection in Toronto. Sault Ste. Marie to Thunder Bay flight time is 3 hours and 25 minutes on average. Connection times vary. The distance from Sault Ste. Marie to Thunder Bay is around 1445 km / 900 mi.
Enjoy complimentary drinks and snacks along the way.