Tag Archives: Thunder Bay

Feature Friday December 9, 2022

The “Moose’s Nose” or alternately “The Devil’s Elbow” was a unique section of railway grade located west of the then City of Fort William, Ontario (now Thunder Bay). It formed part of the Grand Trunk Pacific’s Lake Superior Branch, which ran from Fort William to Superior Junction (later Sioux Lookout) where it joined with the National Transcontinental Railway (NTR). The GTP and NTR was a partnership between the Grand Trunk Railway and the Canadian Government to build a second transcontinental railway in Canada.

The unusual appearance of the Moose’s Nose, with its tight curve, was due to very strict construction stipulations regarding the incline of the grade, which could not exceed one percent. Because the terrain west of city rose steeply from Lake Superior, railway engineers designed the elaborate loop to mitigate the grade issue. The line crossed over a branch of the Neebing River at several points, and in 1917 three concrete culverts were built at these points (two of which still remain). Alba Station was located on the southern end of the nose.

In 1926, 26 miles of grade, including the Moose’s Nose, was abandoned following a reorganization of the Canadian National lines in the area.


Posted by on December 9, 2022 in Hiking, History, Railway


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Extra Credit III “The Pee Dee, Part I”

Extra Credit is video series that examines topics related to history in the Thunder Bay District and exploring that history.

This episode deals with the Port Arthur, Duluth and Western Railway, or Pee Dee Railway as it is commonly known and is the first of several on the topic. I explore the entire history of the railway, right from its early years in the 1880s until its abandonment in 1938. I highlight many of the challenges leading up to the construction of the line, and then the series of misfortunes that led to its eventually bankruptcy. Its time under the control of Canadian Northern Railway and Canadian National Railways is also discussed.


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Posted by on April 21, 2021 in History, Railway, Research, Video


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Extra Credit I “The Beginning”

Extra Credit is new video series that examines topics related to history in the Thunder Bay District and exploring that history.

This first episode in the series details how I became interested in local history more than 30 years ago and how that journey has led to the videos that you see on my channel today. If you have suggestions or ideas for future episodes, leave them in the comment section. Enjoy!

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Posted by on February 24, 2021 in History, Railway, Video


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Europe 2019 Day 10

Good morning kids, or rather, sad morning kids. That’s it, we’re done. I’m sitting here in the lobby, trying to stay awake and realizing that our adventure is over. Years of planning and anticipation have come to end in a heartbeat. The worst part is that it is a bright and sunny morning, so it makes our departure that more difficult to bear.

I’m not going to lie…I’m beat. These trips are great, but they take a lot out of you. Even though I slept well, it was tough to get out of bed this morning. Obviously the late night did not help matters. I know, here I am complaining about being tired after 10 days in Europe, while my colleagues get ready to go back to work. Poor Dave. That being said, they didn’t spend the time and energy planning the trip and actually executing it. Whatever, I’ll do it again in a quick minute, and I will!

So to add to the misery of leaving, our flight to Toronto is delayed. There was a fire at Pearson, so it has had a domino effect on flights. We were supposed to leave at 11:30, but now it looks like 2:00. The problem with that is we likely will not make our connection to Thunder Bay, since that will only leave us 20 minutes between our arrival and the departure of the next plane. I’ve never experienced this, so it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

Alright, so we’re now “comfortably” ensconced at the gate, patiently waiting for our flight to leave. Only 3.5 hours to go! What the heck are we going to do for all that time? Sweet Jesus…I just want to go home. This is seriously testing my OCD. I’ve been abandoned by my group too, left all alone with everyone’s belongings. Air Canada graciously gave us 12€ to spend at McDonald’s, Starbucks, EXKI, Brioche Doree and some other place. Hmmmmmm, how much will that buy us in overpriced airport shops? Probably a bottle of water and that’s it, but I guess I’ll need to find out for myself. I will need to eat soon, as breakfast was once again terrible.

Okay, so hopefully we will be able to board our flight in the next hour. I took my voucher and surprisingly was able to buy a decent lunch. Who would have thunk? A baguette with ham and cheese, a strawberry yogurt dessert and water cost 11€30. Not bad. On the flight front, we are now scheduled to arrive at 5:03, which leaves us 30 minutes to make our next flight. That isn’t enough time, but I’m hopeful since we take up the whole plane, that they will hold it for us.

Team Battistel, March 2019.

In the air now, Toronto bound. We’re stuck at the very back again, however my row only has two seats, so Gibby and I have a bit more elbow room. The moving map on the plane tells me we should arrive at 4:48, so let’s hope we can make our flight to Thunder Bay. Maybe as I mentioned earlier they will hold the plane rather than trying to get 48 people on another flight. Fingers crossed. They’re working on lunch, supper or whatever you call this meal. I wonder what’s on the menu? The one on the way here wasn’t bad, so let’s hope we get something similar. I’ll be back after I eat and have a nap with my review. Stay tuned.

The “meal” and a nap are in the books. So, again I’m impressed…that’s two in a row Air Canada! We were served what I think was BBQ Chicken with carrots, mashed potatoes with corn, bread and a cookie. I passed on the quinoa. In my opinion, it was better than some of the meals we had in Europe, but that’s just me. Now just to sit here and stew until we land in Toronto, staring at our arrival time, which is now 4:54. Hopefully I don’t pick up some strain of the plague while I’m at it; the guy to my right back across the aisle has been hacking up a lung the entire flight!

Thunder Bay here we come! Obviously we made it, but it was quite the ordeal. We landed at 4:52, and quickly found out that our flight home had been delayed. I have a sneaky suspicion that it had everything to do with us, since I as already described we are 60% of the seats on the plane. We had to hustle from the gate to customs, and it appears they opened a special area for people from our flight. Then due to construction, we had to take a bus to our domestic gate. We arrived about 20 minutes before our 6:00 departure. Whew! If anything, we did a lot of running for our flights on this trip…the kids won’t forget this too soon!

Elbow partners, March 2019.

Home sweet home…what a long day! It’s only 9:30, but my body knows it’s really 2:30. Throw on top of that some stress from the flights and I’m completely drained. It’s going to take a few days for me to totally recover from the trip. I’ll be back in a few days with some reflections from our journey. Until then…

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Posted by on March 18, 2019 in History, Travel


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Vimy 2017 Day 11

Day 11 ladies and gentlemen. Time to go home. It’s amazing how fast times flies when you’re on a trip. I guess that’s why they pack so many things on to the agenda; if you did a tour like this at a leisurely pace, you’d never see anything. The only problem is now I need a vacation from the vacation. I’m obviously tired, there isn’t anyone who isn’t, but I’m sure I’d be better if my throat wasn’t so sore. Damn cold!

Alright, we’re in the air on our way back to Canada. I feel a bit better now that all of the kids and chaperones on are the plane. We had this morning, for lack of a better term, a gong show departure. Somehow we ended up with a bus for 49 people, but there 50 of us including Jason. On top of that, the luggage compartment wouldn’t hold all the bags, so not only did one person have to share a seat, we had to put about 10 bags in the aisle of the bus. When we arrived at CDG (Charles DeGaulle Airport), our bus driver couldn’t figure out how to get us to Terminal 2A. We, the tourists, had to point him in the right direction.

Inside terminal, it was a slow process getting checked in as the computers at Air Canada were glitchy. There were long lines at customs and security, so we made it to the gate just before boarding, albeit in groups or varying size. I’m trying to relax now as much as I can, since issues in Canada are much easier to deal with. Happy thoughts. I’m watching Rogue One (yay) and they are starting to serve lunch which will help. We’re approaching the coast of France…only 5800k to go!

Airport selfies, April 2017.

Airport selfies, April 2017.

Okay, lunch just came and went. It’s was much better than the last time; I’m in row 21, so I managed to snag some chicken. I didn’t care for the quinoa? salad, but the carrots and potatoes with it were good. We have six hours more flying time to Toronto, so I’m going to grab a nap when the movie is done. We’re on a 777-300, which seems fairly new and high tech, but steerage seems more cramped than the A330 we came on. I’m in a row with Stewart and Dawson, three bigger guys, and we’re shoulder to shoulder almost. I should be interesting try to get comfortable to sleep. Any case, I’m going to wrap it up so I can finish the movie.

Hey, I’m back, and guess what, we’re in Canada? Well, technically we’re in Canadian airspace, but I’ll take it. I don’t know how long I was asleep, but I do feel better. According to my nice little LED screen in front of me, we just passed over St. John’s, Newfoundland. We’ve flown over 4000km and have 2100km to go. We’ll land just after 1300, so that means we still have over 2.5 hours to go. I’ll be happy when we’re off the plane as I’m still feeling incredibly squished. In Toronto we have a 4 hour layover, so I’ll write more then; it’s hard to type on the screen (my Bluetooth keyboard won’t work on the plane) and I can’t move my arms properly.

Back over Canada, April 2017.

So we’re back in the air for the last leg of our journey back to Thunder Bay. It seems so surreal how fast one can move around; this morning we were in Paris and shortly we will be home. It certainly gives you a good idea of how small our world has become. In any case, it will be good to go back reality, even for the kids. Almost all that I talked, even though they are sad about the end of the trip, really want to see their families. And as great as they have been and as much as we have enjoyed travelling with them, the chaperones will be happy to be off 24/7 teaching duties. It’s rewarding, but very tiring.

On the way home, April 2017.

Speaking of the kids on the trip, I think that travelling like this has so many rewards beyond just seeing the sites of Europe. I already mentioned that for many, this was their first time away from their parents. All of them learned a lot about themselves, about being independent and responsible and that sometimes you need to take chances and try new things. Ya, riding the Metro is a bit scary and intimidating, but so is life. Trips like this not only teach academic things, but also life lessons.

One of the more interesting things that happen on these trips are the friendships that are formed. We have students from different backgrounds, different social groups and even different high schools, but after some initial hestitation, it’s neat to see them come together. Some may have even formed new long-term friendships. Even for us as teachers, we get to see the kids in a whole different light and it gives us a greater appreciation of who they are as individuals. I know that they are thankful for the time and energy it takes to plan a trip such as this and the fact we have to be away from our own families to do it. Being a stand in parent for a week and half is challenging, but dad, mom (Ms. Caza) and Uncle Marcon would it all again in a heartbeat.

It’s after 2100, we landed safe and sound and everyone is now at home with their families. It has been another long day; my body is still on Paris time and it is the middle of the night. I know it will take me a while to get back into the usual routine. On that note, I’m going to sign off. I’ll be back in a few days with some final thoughts on the trip after I have had some time to digest it all. Until then…

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Posted by on April 15, 2017 in History, Travel


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Ugh, back to work!

That pretty much says it all…the vacation is over! Two weeks flies by quick, though I shouldn’t complain since many other people don’t get time off over Christmas. It is tough to go back though; the first couple days are always exhausting. I never sleep well on the last night which leaves me half-asleep and since I don’t drink coffee (I can’t stand the taste or smell of it), it makes for an interesting experience. You really need every ounce of energy since teaching can be mentally challenging, so I did flub a lot of things in my sleep-induced stupor.

The only drawback of my holiday was the pile of marking that I procrastinated about and only managed to get through a small amount of. Sort of makes me wonder how beneficial the two weeks off really is, though the stress relief is very necessary. The visit to Duluth was great, and I was able to do a few other things as well. This year my wife and I signed the boys up for cross-country skiing. I have not cross-country skied since I was 11 or 12, so it’s an interesting experience. We bought some used equipment at the fall ski-swap and filled in the missing pieces after Christmas. Saturday was the first lesson at Kamview and I didn’t even get into my skis as I spent my time keeping the boys on their feet. I think they are enjoying it, which is great since it’s a terrific family activity. I also need to exercise so I can lose a few pounds!

Speaking of winter activities, I was also able to make my first hike up the mountain last week. I live close to the Nor’Wester Mountains and there are many trails on the mountains that can be accessed from the end of my street. Three years ago I began taking my oldest son Ethan up the mountain on the toboggan as a way to exercise and have some father-son time. I’ve been doing it every winter since, however now I also have my youngest Noah as well, which makes pulling a nearly 100 pound sled very interesting (Ethan walks the hills). We did 5k, not bad for the first time out; maybe this week we’ll push it up to 6 or 7k.

On the railway front, things have been progressing, albeit slowly. I did make it to the library last week to get a few articles that I needed and boy have things changed since the last time I did that. Well, I guess it’s been about 14 years since I’ve looked at a roll of microfilm so I guess it can be expected. Now things have moved into the digital age with computer-run scanners that can save images to .pdf. Too bad I didn’t bring a flash drive! I’ll have to remember that for the next time. At some point in the future I’m going to have to spend some time going through newspapers again, since I need to find articles from roughly 1900 to 1938. To compound things, since this town used to be two cities, there are two newspapers worth to look through!

I spent some time at home printing out articles I had saved and neglected to make hard copies for my files, and subsequently attempting the file them with varying degrees of success (there’s still a bunch in the “to be filed” stack). I also decided to take my plan to Facebook/Tweet important events about the railway to the next level. I set up a Google Calendar where I can input dates (there is a page on this site as well); all I need to is figure out how to post those dates automatically, which is proving to be a bit of a chore. Stymied by technology!

So I’m hoping by the end of the week to resume writing the article, though that is contingent on me clearing up that backlog of marking. Maybe by next week’s ramble I’ll have some news to report.

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Posted by on January 9, 2012 in Hiking, Miscellaneous, Research, Writing


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