Day 25 – July 1 – Thunder Bay, ON to Nipigon, ON

Happy Canada Day! Our wonderful country is 155 years old today. And John and I were at the very same place today as were were on our first drive across Canada 8 years ago.

The Terry Fox Memorial, just east of Thunder Bay. Last time we were here we had our picture taken wearing the new Canada T-shirts we had purchased from Fort William. No pic this year though.

From the Terry Fox Memorial you can look across the water of Lake Superior to the Sibley Peninsula and Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. This was our destination after visiting the Terrry Fox Memorial.

There is an Ojibwas legend about the Sleeping Giant:
A great tribe of Ojibwas lived outside Thunder Bay on Isle Royale. Because of loyalty to their gods and their industrious and peaceful mode of living, Nanna Bijou, the spirit of the Deep Sea Water, decided to reward the tribe.
The Great Spirit told the chief about the tunnel that led to the center of a rich silver mine. He warned that if the Ojibwa tribe were ever to tell the White Man of this mine he, Nanna Bijou, would be turned to stone. The Ojibwas soon became famous for their beautiful silver ornaments. The Sioux warriors, upon seeing the silver on their wounded enemies, strove to wrest the secret from the Ojibwas.
Torture and death failed to make the gallant Ojibwa tribesmen divulge their secret. Sioux chieftains summoned their most cunning scout and ordered him to enter the Ojibwa camp disguised as one of them. The scout soon learned the whereabouts of the mine.
One night he made his way to it and took several large pieces of the precious metal. During his return to the Sioux camp the scout stopped at a White Trader’s post for food. There, without furs to trade, he used a piece of the stolen silver. Two White Men, intent upon finding the source of the silver, filled the scout with firewater and persuaded him to lead them to the mine. Just as they were in sight of “Silver Islet”, a terrific storm broke over the cape. The White Men were drowned and the Sioux scout was found drifting in his canoe in a crazed condition.
A most extraordinary thing happened during the storm. Where once was a wide opening to the bay, now lay what appeared to be a great sleeping figure of a man. The Great Spirit’s warning had come true and he had been turned to stone.
Today, a partly submerged shaft to what was once the richest silver mine in the northwest, can still be seen. White Men have repeatedly attempted to pump out the water that floods in from Lake Superior, but their efforts have been in vain. Is it still under the curse of Nanna Bijou, Spirit of the Deep Waters? Perhaps…who can tell?

A few kilometers up the road from the memorial is a marker to commemorate where Terry had to stop his Marathon of Hope due to the pain from his recurred cancer. His plan was to run the 5300 km across Canada – from Atlantic to Pacific – but he had to stop at mile 3339.

As we drove down the Sibley Peninsula we stopped to try find a geocache hidden at one of the bases of this massive railway viaduct. It was officially the Blende River Viaduct, but is locally called the Pass Lake Trestle. It was built in 1916 by the Canadian National Railway as part of the southern rail line around Lake Superior. The tallest part is 140′ above the ground and it is 2280′ long. It has not been used for quite a few years and there is now a movment to have it turned into a trail and added to the Trans-Canada Trail network.

Sadly Sleeping Giant Park is just full of very long hikes. The only short ones that my poor legs would be able to do only went to bogs or marshes. All we saw along the road were trees, trees, and more trees. We turned around and headed for nearby Nipigon where we were spending the night thinking we would be seeing things in Sleeping Giant.

Before we got to Nipigon we took a side road and did another thing we had done in 2014. We drove the narrrow, winding road to Ouimet Canyon.

Nipigon is only 111 km from Thunder Bay and, even after the drive down the Sibley Pennisula and the road and short hike to the canyon, it was only about 2:30 when we arrived. We worked on an Adventure Lab geocache and had a nice drive around the town, which is small but very spread out. As were touring around we could hear a local country band playing on an outdoor stage at the Legion; doing a Canada Day concert.

Nipigon has lovely signage at all their parks and heritage information on all their old buildings. It was a very nice town to drive around. We loved the Paddle to the Sea Park. They had an awesome splash park for kids and several other mini-play areas as well.

At the Nipigon Marina.

Tomorrow we enter northeastern Ontario and will be driving about 4 hours to Hearst.

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