Tour Diary – Thunder Bay, Ont (June 26, 2012)

The arena in Thunder Bay is old school…kind of like every rink built across Canada in the 50’s. Most of the buildings that we have been performing in, have been modern arenas based on designs of the big professional palaces, designed to look good and make money….and to make money they have to be easily configured for multi-use. The Fort William Garden is strictly a place to play hockey and curl, so it made the day a bit more complicated for the Mellencamp crew and it ended up sounding very much like a hockey rink. It was not great gig for us.

When we arrived at the back of the building, this morning, everyone took off; Al to find a bike trail; Margo to colour her roots; Jeff and Pete in search of a music store and me in search of the Kaministiquia River. I was told to avoid the river downtown and head up stream for the best odds of catching something, so I borrowed Pete’s bike and headed up river. The only problem was that the rail yards between the road and the river were a formidable obstacle. After a long ride along the tracks I came across an iron pedestrian bridge that I figured might get me across the tracks and closer to the water. It did, but it also brought me to a memorial park/spot for the First Spike, which was driven in that spot in 1875. In Canada we all learn about the Last Spike, hammered home in Craigellachie, BC in 1885: it signified the completion of the building of the Canadian Pacific Railroad, joining the East coast to the West coast of Canada. We consider it a major nation-building moment. Apparently we were being severely pressured by an expansionist power to our South who had a very large standing army that was in prime fighting shape. The physical bonding of our two coasts by the railway gave our claim to the Western lands some teeth in the eyes of international community. So we celebrate and learn about the Last Spike, but the massive ten year public-works project had to begin somewhere and, what-do-you-know, it began here.

I did find the river and it was a little depressing, lined with functioning and crumbling industries, brackish and stressed. The most frustrating thing was that a twenty minute drive from here would place me in the middle of trees and rocks and rivers and lakes barely disturbed by us humans: perhaps on another day with a little more time. If you ever want a true wilderness experience come to Northern Ontario.


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4 Responses to “Tour Diary – Thunder Bay, Ont (June 26, 2012)”

  1. gord ellis Says:

    June 29th, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    Hey Mike: Next time you are in Thunder Bay and need someone to take you fishing,look me up. I can fix you up (google my name + fishing). By the way, in 1987 (86?) or so, I was one of about 4 people at a gig you guys did at Crocks and Rolls. You all sat on the floor, and then sat with my buddy and I between sets. I’ve told that story a few times! I fell totally in love with Margo that night as well. Sigh. It was good to hear you guys the other night, although as you mentioned, the Gardens is not really the best acoustic set up for a band like yours. But I enjoyed hearing you all again.


  2. gord ellis Says:

    June 29th, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    Oh, and the Kam actually has a pretty good walleye and pike fishery, but it is just getting over a major flood a few weeks back.But it is not the prettiest thing ever near the city.

  3. Mike Timmins Says:

    July 2nd, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    Hi Gord,
    I remember that gig at Crocks and Rolls…..did we talk about seeing Muddy Waters? Thanks for the fishing advice…I look forward to one day exploring the Kam properly.

  4. Gord Ellis Says:

    July 3rd, 2012 at 6:47 am

    Yes we did! Good memory.And Hank Williams,Bruce Springsteen etc.I recall we had very similar musical tastes….