Thunder Bay – Such a Wonder!
Updated: Aug 17, 2020
What was such a wonder, in a small city in northwestern Ontario, that made a guy who grew up in India’s largest city, also known as the city of dreams, fall in love with it? You wonder?
My home city of Mumbai is very competitive and fast-paced, partly because it is the financial capital of the country. Like Toronto, there are a lot of migrants and expats who come to Mumbai hoping to make it big in the city, resulting in its dense population. How dense you ask? Let me give you an idea of how dense. Thunder Bay is around 450 sq. km, with a population of about 110,000. While Mumbai is only a little larger at 600 sq. km, the population is an enormous 18 Million, which means for every person per meter in Thunder Bay, there would be 180 more in Mumbai. What a wonder – the grace of space!
In June 2018, my agency recommended me to apply at Confederation College for my Post Graduate Program. Not knowing a lot about Thunder Bay, I sought help from our very own Google. One thing Google said was that it gets really, really cold up here. I got my admission letter soon after, and before I knew it, I was on a flight to the small city of Thunder Bay. I started to realize how small when I sat in a propeller plane from Toronto, which until then, I had only seen in movies. All I could see and think right before I landed in Thunder Bay was, “It’s so white.” Frankly, my inner child was bubbling with joy because I had never seen snow in my life.
It was -25 the day I landed, and I recollect seeing that number somewhere, it was on the digital screen of my freezer in Mumbai. This city is as cold as my freezer in Mumbai! As an amateur traveler heading to the north, I wasn’t wearing any thermal, thinking I would get into the warm cabs from inside the airport to the warmness of my house. But things didn’t go as planned. Thunder Bay airport is smaller than a train station in Mumbai, and we had to take a cab from outside and not inside. The previous night there was a massive snowstorm, and there were no cabs available. I remember standing outside for 45 minutes in -25 degrees with a frozen beard. In the north, always be prepared for the cold, and this I learned the hard way.
Soon the winter blues were catching up with me. I made it a point not to stay in my apartment too much but to start connecting with the community and making local friends. Until that point, I only attended a Sunday Church service, but soon I enrolled myself also in a Life Group from the church, started volunteering for the church, and with the church. I also started volunteering with St Joseph’s Care Group .
These were one of the best decisions I made, which helped me make a lot of local friends here. Soon I started going out with them and began to experience everything Thunder Bay had to offer. Some of the things I did in the next six months included fishing for the first time, skiing, hiking the sleeping giant, kayaking on lake superior, learning to swim, raising money for charity, sitting in a hot tub while the weather is below 30 and snowing, snowshoeing for the first time, walking on Canadas largest suspension bridge, playing golf, parking a boat in the middle of the lake and witnessing the sunset.
The highlight of them all was watching shooting stars and the milky way, which was absolutely one of the wonders of my life. And the astonishing fact was; I didn’t have to go somewhere else to do these things; Thunder Bay has all this and countless more experiences to offer. The trick is venturing out, making a lot of local friends, and not be confined only to your ethnic friend circle.
Coming to Thunder Bay, I have learned to realize the significance of community and friends. This city might be small, but it has a huge heart and have more to offer than any place I have personally ever visited. These experiences have not only brought me closer to this extravagant city, but I have also started to enjoy everything this beautiful city has to offer, and it is my sincere hope you will find this same Wonder in this Phenomenal city too!