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CLAY 2018: Thunder Bay

Location: Thunder Bay

Look Out Thunder Bay, CLAY Gathering 2018 is headed your way!

In August 2018, CLAY will be coming to Lakehead University (LU), Thunder Bay, Ontario.

The majority of Gathering activities take place on the LU campus. Participants will be staying in one of three styles of residence buildings on campus: Residence Halls (dormitory-style), Apartments and Townhouses. Meals will be served in the two residence cafeteria spaces and the Agora (large gathering space located inside the University Centre). LU is located in the heart of the largest city on the shore of Lake Superior, a 20 minute walk away from the Lake at Marina Park. Boreal forest embraces the campus with Lake Tamblyn providing a pastoral centre accessible from campus pathways.  For more information about LU, please visit their website, To download a campus map, click here

The gateway to Canada’s great outdoors, Thunder Bay is situated on the shores of the world’s largest freshwater lake. Embraced by the Nor’Wester Mountain range, Thunder Bay is a vibrant urban community in a wilderness setting. It is strategically located near the geographical centre of Canada, and is the western terminus of the St. Lawrence Seaway System.  A regional centre of education, health, culture and commerce, Thunder Bay is known as “the gateway to the Great Northwest,” the surrounding physical area nearly the size of Europe. 

Thunder Bay’s location in the centre of the continent and at the head of the Great Lakes made it a natural meeting and trading site as far back as the Paleo-Indian civilization 11,000 years ago. The first Europeans arrived in the 17th century and established a series of fur trading posts at the place they named Baie de Tonnere, or Thunder Bay. In 1798, the North West Company built Fort William near the mouth of the Kaministiquia River, which quickly became a lively community of Scottish traders, French voyageurs and indigenous trappers. Two towns that developed side by side – Fort William and Port Arthur – were amalgamated in 1970 under the name the first settlers had chosen – Thunder Bay.  As the era of the fur trade drew to a close in the late nineteenth century, the regional economy shifted to one based upon newer industries like forestry and shipping.

This, in turn, ushered in an era of prosperity that drew immigrants from all over the world further enriching the cultural mosaic. The forest industry held a special attraction for the Finns and even today, Thunder Bay boasts one of the largest settlements of Finnish people outside Finland. The omnipresent saunas, the shops of “Little Finland” on Bay Street and the prevalence of nordic-style skiing are just a few of the ways the City reveals its Finnish heritage.

Ethnic diversity is one of Thunder Bay’s greatest assets. Annual cultural events include The Folklore Festival, a world tour of nations, in a celebration of song, dance and cuisine, Festa Italiana celebrating the food and fun of Italy, the Ukrainian Festival highlighting the traditions of the Ukrainian heritage and Ojibwa Keeshigun, a traditional pow-wow held at Fort William Historical Park, offering a colourful glimpse of indigenous culture. 

(information from