Prince Arthur’s Landing at Marina Park
Thunder Bay, Ontario
From the moment you drive, walk or roll into Prince Arthur’s Landing at Marina Park you will be consumed by the stunning views. Prince Arthur’s Landing is at the most northern point of Lake Superior in the heart of Thunder Bay, Ontario’s north downtown area. This magnificent waterfront setting overlooks the Sleeping Giant, one of Canada’s most powerful and iconic natural vistas, and the myriad of activities offered to the public makes it a focal point for activities to occur in all seasons. Citizens and tourists flock to the waterfront to wade in the splash pad, sail in the waters, celebrate a wedding, watch the flora and fauna, listen to live music, learn arts and crafts, skate on the pond, use the skate/BMX park, participate in winter festivals, and dine along the shoreline.
Prince Arthur’s Landing re-opened in 2011 as a space for the entire community. The Festival Stage offers weekly entertainment and countless festivals throughout the summer as well as picnic space for families and community groups. The new Water Garden Pavilion consists of a full service restaurant with outdoor patio, a public event space and support services for outdoor activities of winter skating and a summer splash pool. Artist studios, exhibition spaces, teaching spaces and a gift gallery have become a community hub for the arts in the retrofitted and expanded 1905 CN Rail Baggage Building Arts Centre .
Skate Board BMX Plaza is an exciting activity area that incorporates unique features from many coveted skateboarding spots around the world and even a touch of home with a likeness of the Sleeping Giant that you can skate on. Thousands of skateboarders gather at this park each year with the season starting in early April until the snow is too deep to shovel.
The award winning Spirit Garden includes an authentic bentwood structure surrounding the celebration circle which used for outdoor performances. This gathering area, a rich public park space, features landscapes and structures that honour Thunder Bay’s aboriginal heritage.
The Market Square and Waterfront Plaza, located at the heart of the project, provide a beautiful multipurpose piazza space suitable for public outdoor markets, performances and a variety of public events and festivals.
Great art has the ability for reconciliation and great architects and artists have the vision to create places, whether they are physical or in the mind, that allow us to come together and to simply exist in the moment. Public art has been integrated in various ways through illumination, sculpture, relief, design, written and audible prose.
As part of the waterfront redevelopment at Prince Arthur’s Landing, the City of Thunder Bay implemented its largest and most diverse series of public art installations to date. This collection features: Panels of images of animals, representing air, land, water and fire, are portrayed in the Woodland style of art developed by the Ojibwe people; three cedar Lanterns with vibrant, colourful artwork on their glass front panels. The digital imagery depicts ‘giant’ figures and explores the theme of Man’s relationship to water and nature; the Traveller’s Return is represented by stylized, larger than life aluminum water droplets. Their mirror finish reflects environment and viewer, inviting interaction and play. This sculpture is located at the historic junction of the Great Lakes; Embedded History features blended surfaces on a water feature wall representing the emergence of the Metis people from two distinct cultures; Naturally Inflated is a popular family of 10, granite balloon animals that invite children and the inner child to play. These and 6 other public art features are accessible year round, all within the beautiful setting of the Lake Superior Waterfront. The waterfront’s public art program was developed to celebrate Thunder Bay and the region’s unique culture and heritage by engaging visual and literary artists in the development of public art installations. Over a dozen works by local, regional and national writers are distributed throughout the park, providing moments for pause and reflection.
Prince Arthur’s Landing is ultimately a place that marries so beautifully the stunning physical landscape around it with the dreams of so many of the different peoples who make up Canada to a meeting place where we can wander through, and sit in, and just be.
Events and Festivals
Thunder Bay is a City of Festivals and this award winning park plays host to most of these events. Adjacent to Lake Superior, and overlooking the legendary Sleeping Giant, Marina Park provides a spectacular setting to enjoy our wide range of performances.
Winterfest kicks off the year of festivals in February, celebrating winter and all of the free family friendly activities that one can do in the snow. From skating to sledge hockey, snow shoeing to cross country skiing, there have been more than 5,000 citizens of all ages participating at this winter wonderland event. The popular snow sculpture competition features masterpieces from artists as well as the opportunity for families to demonstrate their talents. Each year Winterfest concludes with a spectacular fireworks show over the frozen harbor.
Winter Fun Days are programmed every Sunday afternoon from December to March encouraging patrons to embrace winter by taking part in a variety of outdoor activities. A Fairytale skate, Kick-sledding, Snow Sculpturing, Dog-Sledding and Winter Science Camp are a few of the many events scheduled for all ages.
The summer season starts off with a bang as Prince Arthur’s Landing plays host to the biggest birthday party of the year – Canada Day. The annual July 1st celebrations feature 6 hours of continuous entertainment on the main and satellite stages with programming that appeals to all age groups. Other events scheduled include Canoeing, Kayaking and Dragon Boating, an Artisans Market, Face Painting & Balloon Animals, Inflatable Play Structures, a Drumming Circle with Music Workshop, a Magic Show, as well as demonstrations from Tai Chi, Yoga, and the Pipes and Drums Band. The grand finale is the spectacular fireworks show over the water. This show can be seen from many points of the city and is enjoyed by 10’s of thousands.
Summer at Prince Arthur’s Landing features very popular, weekly, Summer in the Parks concert series in July and August. This Thunder Bay tradition showcases outstanding local musical talent as well as a
number of touring acts. The Festival area stage plays host to entertainers ranging in size from 18-piece bands to solo artists providing an interesting and dynamic repertoire including Dixieland Jazz bands that keep the tradition of exciting, improvised performances alive, a whole lot of Blues and a touch of rock encourages sing along enjoyment. The swinging beat from the music gets toes tapping and people up dancing. More than 5,000 spectators visit the park for these weekly concerts. Community groups, artisans and food vendors are on hand to provide a unique cultural experience for all to enjoy.
With the longer summer days, Movie Nights in the park are scheduled Friday evenings in May and June and again in late August and September. This free family entertainment encourages park-goers to bring a blanket and a lawn chair and enjoy the show on the big screen overlooking the beautiful Lake Superior at dusk. Classic family films are selected and each feature movie is preceded by a screening of a locally or regionally produced short film.
The festival season adds to the popularity at Prince Arthur’s Landing starting off with the annual Blues Festival. This 3 day event features entertainers from across North America with more than 20 Blues Artists taking the stage for a weekend full of superb entertainment, and plenty of fun! Several vendors are onsite with tantalizing fare. The very popular Festival of India is another demonstration of free family events and offers patrons entertainment and a taste of authentic Indian dishes.
Thunder Bay, in Anishnaabe called Animikie, or Thunder Water, is a confluence of people and of waters and of cultures and of history and of geography. More concisely, Thunder Bay is also called a gateway.
The City of Thunder Bay has been influenced for years by its location on one of the world’s greatest inland seas, Lake Superior. It has been a transportation centre, a shipping destination and a working waterfront for over a century. The Marina Park site was also called The Station and was used as a military staging area and as a deep water port. In 1884, the Station was incorporated as a town and renamed Port Arthur. However, a lot happened before that time.
For thousands of years this shore of Lake Superior has been the gateway that marks the exodus for hunters and traders and travelers from east to west and vice versa. The Anishnaabe have always recognized the geographic and cultural importance of this area that marks the boundary between the woodlands heading west to the prairies. The settlers recognizing the importance of this gateway built Fort William, becoming the centre, the ground zero, of the fur trade. Many newly arrived immigrants passed through here on their way to new lives. This is the place where road and rail birthed the expansion west and where grain that would feed a hungry new nation was shipped from the prairies before making its way east.
City of Thunder Bay and Aboriginal Liaison office continue to recognize and implement the strong cultural links to Thunder Bay’s Aboriginal history and the waterfront. City Administration has established a Council of Elders who continue to work alongside the design team in order to maintain and enhance aspects of Aboriginal culture throughout the park.
The City of Thunder Bay began developing and transforming the north Marina Waterfront Park and Marina at Prince Arthur’s Landing between 1976 and 1981 through development of the land base and shoreline, boating facilities, walkways and parking. From 1980 onward, the use of Marina Park has increased significantly, as the community gradually rediscovered this section of waterfront. The initial development and gradual increases in use resulted in greater public appreciation of the importance of the waterfront as a valuable community asset with environmental, recreation and tourism benefits.
In 2009 a new master plan was initiated for Prince Arthur’s Landing at Marina Park, an ambitious public/private sector project in which cutting-edge architecture, urban design, landscape architecture, and public art are fusing with retail, hotel and condo development to turn a modest waterfront park and marina into a lively urban village linking the lake with downtown.
The Waterfront Development Office, in coordination with the Waterfront Development Committee, Public Art Committee, the City Planning Division, and countless others contributed professional expertise to the project by way of site planning, commissioning art, organizing events and festivals, and raising capital.
A central focus of the redevelopment of Prince Arthur’s Landing was the creation of a new pedestrian friendly connection from the downtown core (Waterfront District BIA) to the waterfront park. The existing pedestrian bridge enables park-goers to safely cross four lanes of traffic. The main pedestrian at-grade entrance to the waterfront is adjacent to the City Transit Terminal and bike racks are located in highly active areas throughout the waterfront to encourage the City of Thunder Bay’s Active Transportation initiative
Direct, well lit and barrier-free pedestrian trails and paths were designed to provide access between facilities, parking lots, buildings and structures throughout Prince Arthur’s Landing. Main pathways are paved with a smooth surface, seating areas are provided in locations adjacent to barrier-free paths, curb ramps are established at all walkways where they intersect with streets or driveways for barrier-free accessibility.
Vehicular access through the park has been slowed with traffic calming measures and regulations to prioritize the right-of-way for pedestrians and non-motorized vehicles. Many of the larger events have partnered with Thunder Bay Transit to provide festival attendees free Transit to the events. This initiative is not only to increase concert goers, but to ease traffic congestion & parking requirements, lower the event’s carbon footprint, help eliminate drinking and driving, and introduce Transit to new passengers.
Prince Arthur’s Landing at Marina Park has witnessed a surge of users from Babies to Baby Boomers to Senior Citizens. Programming has purposely been inclusive focused with Mom & Me programs, art classes for every age, a skateboard park that sees participants from 2 – 50 years young enjoying the sport. The integrated trail system allows young and old the opportunity to enjoy the views, without traffic concerns. For those requiring a rest between destinations there are many, well situated benches, andirondack chairs and picnic tables throughout the park. The free family events feature entertainment that appeals to most ages. Kid Ventures Day camp accommodates ages 5 – 13 with a focus of outdoor activities throughout the park. The skating rink provides a safe place where older adults have dusted off their skates and enjoy the experience of skating in this peaceful, majestic setting. The splash pad enables grandparents, and parents, a safe and refreshing spot to encourage outdoor, spontaneous fun, no skills necessary and no age limit.
The many park destinations and programming opportunities are organized in such a way that on average, it will take a maximum of 5 minutes to walk between destinations and activities.
Prince Arthur’s Landing is now complete except for some final hotel construction and a market square, and has met with widespread critical praise and public enthusiasm. The landscape throughout the park is stunning. Artists not just transformed a place, but married their creations to what already exists in such a way that we are drawn to it, want to gather in it, want to play and socialize in it. Prince Arthur’s Landing is really a great public space.