Thunder Bay Climbing: A Guide to Northwestern Ontario’s Best Kept Secret
Better start working on those onefinger pull-ups, because you’re going to be busy next summer. Aric Fishman’s guide to Thunder Bay rock climbing grabs the rope from Alex Joseph and Randy Reed’s 2003 edition and leads into glorious, panoramic Technicolor. While much of the core information remains unchanged, especially for welltraveled areas such as The Bluffs and Silver Harbour, it’s the lush presentation that makes this latest edition a valuable asset to both Thunder Bay climbers
and visitors. Fishman has invested his passion for the sport and many seasons of effort in this project, and it shows in the details. Along with the added accomplishment of another generation of exploratory climbing, Fishman also provides full colour maps of cliffs, crags, and approaches, aerial drone shots of each area, and pictorial representation and analysis of every established climb in Northwestern Ontario. Each route gets a full description which includes vital information beyond the name and
grade, such as anchor points, bolt placement, and recommended trad gear. Two new areas of development, Wolf ’s Head and Crescent Lake, are a welcome surprise, but it’s also his work on obscure areas, such as the Water Tower and Claghorn, that show the depth of his research. Fishman’s edition won’t replace your belay partner, but it will find a permanent place in your backpack for years to come. - Justin Allec
You can’t expect anything but excellence when looking at new work from Norah Jones. And her new elegant, jazzy album, Day Breaks, proves just that. Day Breaks is Jones’s first solo album since 2008, and it couldn’t be better. After taking some time to collaborate with artists such as Jack White and Danger Mouse, Jones seems to be coming back to the roots that got her where she is today. Her new jazz album is so graceful that you may almost forget it is playing at times, but then Jones brings you back to life with a funky, edgy song like “Flipside,” a song that carries a strong political message but also sounds like the opening to a modern James Bond film. Other songs on the album, such as “Carry On,” feel like a more like a simple, honest page of memoir she once wrote. Overall the album played out as expected from an artist who has had a 15-year career. Nothing suits the winter quite like jazz and nothing suits jazz quite like Norah Jones. This is the perfect album to play as you get ready for the cold winter months ahead.
Phish. Known as an archetypal live jam band, the measure of their undeniable talents have never relied upon commercial success of their studio work. They also have to compete with a high bar of excellence as, much like Montreal Canadiens fans, I have often found that the most critical of Phish’s albums are diehard Phish fans who often try to equate the immersive live performances they’ve experienced with a recorded version. That being said, Phish’s latest work, Big Boat, is another great album, albeit not one of my favourite Phish pieces. There is no denying the band’s attempt to “modernize” their sound a bit with this one, which is more than fine, but the unfortunate effect of attempting to stretch outside your box is that sometimes it just doesn’t really fit. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the album is bad; it’s just that some pieces feel a little out of place. Overall Big Boat is definitely worth listening to, but perhaps I just expected to be blown away instead of just taking a casual sail in the harbour.
In their third effort, local group The Knackers stray a little from their unabashed CanadianCeltic traditional folk roots into darker, deeper waters. I hear a struggle with questions of truth and meaning and the search for spiritual connection to place. I mean, many people, like me and quite possibly you, relocate to Northwestern Ontario for work or family or by chance. What is our relationship then to the past and present land? Do we develop roots and caring or just drift along on the surface of Thunder Bay? Do we dare to commit to Here? Musically speaking, this is a quality production with interesting, varied instrumentation and a little experimentation, although I would like to hear the soulful background vocals and fiddle higher in the mix. “Sultana” is Lake of the Woods via Montego Bay and “Graveyard” is a northern Allman Brothers’ “Midnight Rider,” whereas “Fish No More” hearkens back to a Stan Rogers-esque style and format about an early-retired Newfoundland fisherman. Here’s hoping the Knackers stay here together and keep playing their songs for us.
- Jacob Wilson-Hajdu
- Jamie Varga
- Peter Jabs