Read this if you are wondering how to get to the Finlandia Hall on the day of the wedding or what options you have for getting around town once you are here.
The Finlandia Hall is located in the walkable historic Bay-Algoma district. There are plenty of little local stores, restaurants, and coffee shops around and downtown Port Arthur is only a 10 minute walk away. If you stay at the Prince Arthur Hotel (located downtown Port Arthur) or look for an Airbnb close by then you can definitely count on walking to get around.
This is my preferred method of transportation to get around Thunder Bay. In the past six years or so, there has been tremendous progress in terms of building bike infrastructure and drivers also seem to be getting used to sharing the road with cyclists. We have a few bikes we could lend out if anyone would be interested in biking around, otherwise you could see if any of the local bike shops (Fresh Air Experience, Petrie’s Cycle & Sports, and Rollin’ Thunder) have rentals available.
If you are flying in and still want the freedom to go wherever whenever or simply want the option of getting out of town, then renting a car is the way to go. We don’t have any advice as to which car rental company is the best, but there are a few conveniently located at the Thunder Bay airport.
If you plan to drive to the Finlandia Hall, the best place to park would be in the metered parking lot (free on weekends and after 6:30 pm on weekdays) off Secord Avenue at the corner of Bay Street or simply park on Secord Avenue or Bay street themselves. There is also more than enough parking in near-by parking lots. If you leave your car parked overnight, just be sure to lock up.
A Few Words on Driving in Thunder Bay
Other than having a lot of potholes and confusing street name changes (for example Algoma Street, Memorial Avenue, and May Street are all one in the same), the road networks in town are massively developed. Some might even say way overdeveloped for a City with a population of about 110,000. At any rate, driving is very convenient in Thunder Bay and most people here are obsessed with it. This being said, Thunder Bay drivers are particularly bad and have some very annoying habits you may want to be aware of. These include:
- Taking wide turns. Never assume a turning vehicle will go into the lane closest to them – they usually don’t.
- Stopping on merging ramps. This is so dangerous but a lot of people have no idea how to merge properly and will come to a full stop on merging ramps.
- Ignoring stop-lines. Honestly, the number of times I think I am about to get T-boned is absurd. A lot of drivers will approach intersections going way too fast and stop at the last minute (if there is traffic that is).
- Rolling stops. If there is no traffic, some drivers won’t even come close to stopping.
- Driving in the left lane. This is the go-to move of almost all drivers in Thunder Bay. As a result, it’s usually way faster to stick to the right lane which is ridiculous.
- Blocking off the whole road. What happens when someone is also driving slowly in the right lane? The classic Thunder Bay block: two cars (or more likely pickup trucks) driving side by side thus effectively preventing any other vehicles from passing.
Our local Arts & Culture magazine actually did a feature on Thunder Bay’s bad drivers in October 2016. My solution and advice to avoid getting frustrated while driving? Walk, bike, or take the bus.
Taking the Bus
The transit system in Thunder Bay is not perfect, but it’s pretty good. I often take the bus to get to work in the winter and would definitely encourage anyone to consider it a viable option. It costs $2.75 per trip/transfer (exact change) otherwise you have to buy a 20-pass card or 1-month pass. Using Google Maps works very well to plan things out, or you can find all the information you need on the Thunder Bay transit page. The Finlandia Hall is on bus route number 3M, 11, and 13.
There are two taxi companies in Thunder Bay (Yellow Roach’s and Diamond Lacey’s) but these are far from ideal. If you opt to take a taxi, expect fairly long wait-times and high prices. It costs around $40 to get downtown from the airport even though it’s only a 15 minutes drive. There is no Uber in Thunder Bay.