Wherever we go in life, we often find ourselves comparing our current location to that of home or previous travels.
What’s different? Wether it’s better food, friendlier people, or a simpler way of life, the grass always seems greener on the other side.
I think perspective plays a huge part in this, but how far does perspective really reach? What if a place is simply better for reasons beyond our control. I’m talking about geographical differences, political borders, and where we as humans have settled throughout history.
Recent travels have made me consider how a border can change not only the appeal of a location, but also its citizens.
My hometown, Thunder Bay, is a beautiful city. The natural beauty here never ceases to amaze me. However, I always seem to find myself yearning for the potential of what could be. If only people cared more. If only we had a little more respect for our city. If only we could be a little more like Duluth, Minneapolis, our sister city to the south. Only a 3-4 hour drive along the beautiful lakeshore makes for a delightful day trip filled with stops in small towns to pick up local pies and take in the delightful views of our vast lake.
What Thunder Bay lacks in maintenance, Duluth makes up for in its elegant boardwalk by the lake, bustling tourist shops, and art galleries that display a sense of pride at living in such a beautiful region of the world.
So why can’t Thunder Bay be the Duluth of the north? We have a larger population and the same natural beauty to be proud of but we were once two separate cities. The former Port Arthur and Fort William have since come together as Thunder Bay, yet we lack a proper downtown; a place where residents and tourists alike can come together and enjoy. Yes, recent changes to our Marina have greatly improved the appeal of our waterfront, but where are the cafes where we can dine alfresco? Where are the people?
Now, maybe i’m being too critical, but we still have that sense of separation. Although we are two cities no more, we still identify with our ports and forts. We are also the only major city in Northwestern Ontario – the hub. Duluth, on the other hand, has visitors driving up from Minneapolis and other major cities in the US to explore what our lake has to offer.
Why don’t they come to Canada? Take a little detour to the north and explore what our culture has to offer. Well, that would require a passport to cross the invisible line that separates us. The line where, once crossed, accents change and a gun culture becomes very apparent. So, where are the Canadians? Nobody seems to venture here for a great outdoor adventure because there is a general sense, nation wide, that there is nothing here.
I always wonder what visitors’ perceptions of the city are. Do they know the local gems or do they simply pass through our city, catching a glimpse of our giant in slumber as they continue on their trips across the country.
I guess for now we can only continue to enjoy the vision of what could be in our own Marina as we walk through Canal Park in Duluth, taking in the fresh lake air that we thought we left at home.
Thunder Bay has seen many improvements to its Marina in recent years