Hippos, horses and hockey sticks for sale in Thunder Bay, Ont.

Kelsey’s Restaurant in Thunder Bay is renovating, and getting rid of everything in a silent auction on May 5, 6 and 7. Collectors and bargain hunters alike are finding the auction a unique place to shop for essentials and mementos, including a giant hippo head, carousel horse, and vintage neon Miller Lite sign.

The restaurant, which has been on Memorial Avenue for 19 years, is doing a complete overhaul to adopt new brand standards, said owner Claudio Foresta.

The auction has more than 500 items listed, including countless pieces of memorabilia that have lined the walls of the restaurant.

“It’s all got to go,” said Monique Crago, who has worked at Kelsey’s for 13 years and is organizing the auction.

Rob Cain, Pastor at Slate River Baptist Church, said the auction was a unique opportunity to shop with his four-year old daughter Ellie.

Cain is opening up a coffee shop at the church and was on the market for some chairs, tables and bar stools, almost 100 of which are being auctioned off by Kelsey’s. Ellie, on the other hand, was drawn to the carousel horse.

“There’s a lot of good stuff here on offer,” he said, but the variety of items is tempting.

“Once you start  looking around at things you kind of want things you didn’t think you wanted when you first came in. It’s difficult to control yourself.”

Thunder Bay students stand up and stand together

Third annual We Stand Up conference brings 1,400 students together.

 CBC News Posted: May 05, 2016 7:30 AM ET

Almost 1,400 students, from 30 local elementary and secondary schools, attended the third annual We Stand Up Student conference in Thunder Bay, Ont. for a day of education and inspiration on Wednesday.

This year’s key message was ‘How can you be a good human being?’

Hannah Smith, 17, is a grade 12 student from Hammerskjold High School, and on the executive team for the 2016 We Stand Up student conference in Thunder Bay. (Clare Bonnyman/CBC)

“The slogan of being a good human being really translates to student life and keeping kids engaged in school,” says Hannah Smith, a member of the We Stand Up executive team and student trustee for the Lakehead District School Board.

“If there’s anything that I hope people can take away from today is the confidence, and the drive, and the motivation to do something that they feel really passionate about,” Smith said.

Talitha Tolles was one of 12 speakers helping motivate the students at this year’s event.

She’s the ambassador of the We Stand together campaign, which focuses on bridging gaps between Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal youth.

“This day to me is really important, because I have the opportunity to share a piece of my culture, and being able to share that and give a voice to young people who have had that voice taken away is really important,” she said.

Talitha Tolles, Aboriginal programming coordinator and motivational speaker with Free The Children, addressed students at the event. (Clare Bonnyman/CBC)

It’s a privilege, Tolles said, to reach out to youth and remind them of the power that they can and already have. “Being a good person is taking those things that you really love and sharing those gifts and talents with other people,” she said.

“It’s not just labelling yourself as a good person, you have to work on it every single day.”



A tropical take on ice cream made fresh in Thunder Bay

Singing Poplars Ice Cream offers non-dairy ice cream made local, just in time for summer

CBC News Posted: May 04, 2016 7:30 AM ET

Singing Poplars Ice Cream was started three years ago in Thunder Bay, Ont. by mother-daughter duo Mary and Ayla Ludwig. Their coconut-based non-dairy ice cream has now become a popular frozen alternative in the city.

“I was a little unsure of how it would be received in the community,” said Ayla, who’s been “getting the ball rolling” before her mother moves to the city in June.

“There seems to be a lot of people who are excited to have an alternative product.”

Ludwig has been at the weekend market in Thunder Bay for a month now, and works with Espresso Joya, a local coffee shop. All of the ice cream and products are made and packaged out of her home kitchen.


The majority of customers they get at the market are people who are looking for a dairy alternative for their dietary requirements. But Ludwig said others show interest as well. “Once I lure them in with a sample and get them to try it, they enjoy it and can have dairy, but opt to get the non-dairy.”

Running a small business has been her mother’s retirement dream, and Ludwig is excited to start working with her in the kitchen, but also nervous.

She said, “I will report back and let you know how it is in a month.”

No new bike lanes this summer in Thunder Bay

CBCCity switches gears into internal systems, rather than infrastructure

By Clare Bonnyman, CBC News Posted: Apr 29, 2016 7:00 AM ET

Thunder Bay is looking to long term developments for it’s Active Transportation Plan. (Bert Savard/CBC)

For the first summer in years, residents of Thunder Bay, Ont. won’t see new additions to the city’s 40 km of bike lanes.

“This year is a different year,” said Adam Krupper, mobility coordinator for the City of Thunder Bay. “The work we’re doing is really behind the scenes.”

The focus for this summer he said, is investing in long-term strategies to more effectively gather data and reduce the maintenance effort required for bike lanes.

Every spring the roads crew sweeps salt and dirt off of all 40 km of the lanes, and repaint the lines and symbols; a process which can, and often does, take all summer, said Krupper.

This summer Active Transportation Thunder Bay is looking into permanent pavement markings, using a thermo-plastic paint that is melted into fresh asphalt.

The paint is a mixture of glass beads, pigments, binder and filler materials that become liquid when they’re heated.

Thunder Bay mobility coordinator Adam Krupper said investments will help with the long term maintenance and quality of the city’s biking infrastructure. (Adam Burns/CBC)

They are “much less labour intensive in the long run, and they don’t peel off,” said Krupper. “All they have to do is get washed off in the spring.”

It’s part of their plan to switch from building a larger network of lanes to streamlining the maintenance for that network.

New tools to gather data

The city also plans to gather more usage data for existing bike lanes.

This summer the City is purchasing long term counters that are automated, cutting down on the manpower associated with collecting data manually.

“We don’t have to have a person sitting by the road ticking off a box every time someone comes by, and they allow us to do longer term counts like month long counts,” said Krupper.

He said measuring use over a month is more effective than the usual 12 hour recording period.

“What’ll happen is if it’s cold and rainy that day, the numbers get skewed based on the weather. A longer term count, those types of variances will be captured but we’ll also see longer term trends.”

Even with new technology and plans in place, Krupper said that ongoing education remains top priority for the city to promote road safety for cyclists and motorists.

“Most people who ride a bike also drive, where we find frustration and confusion is when people just aren’t obeying the law,” he said.

For information and maps of Thunder Bay’s bike paths and lanes visit the city’s Active Transportation website.

Some photography

My flickr is proving to be difficult these days, so I figured I’d throw up some of the photos I’ve been taking on my off-time from the CBC here in Thunder Bay.

All of the above photos were taken and edited by myself, from mid to late April in Northwestern Ontario.

For more, and full quality, you can check out my Flickr page (eventually).

Thunder Bay paramedics 1st in Canada to try Yoga for First Responders

Yoga for First Responders now a crucial part of Superior North EMS mental wellness strategy, paramedic says

By Clare Bonnyman, CBC News Posted: Apr 25, 2016 9:59 AM ET

Thunder Bay is the first city in Canada to run Yoga For First Responders classes. Instructor training is based out of Des Moines, Iowa. (Yoga For First Responders)

Paramedics in Thunder Bay, Ont. are the first in Canada to take part in a wellness program that aims to help them reduce their stress load.

Called “Yoga for First Responders“, the city-sponsored program was introduced in December of last year, said Marika Listenmaa, acting superintendent of professional standards at Superior North EMS.

Each week, two classes offer breathing and stress relief exercises to help paramedics deal with stress on the job — and in the office.

“[It’s] helping us to deal with a lot of the traumas that come with the workplace, as well as the political problems that we’re having with call volume, labour disputes, and issues like that,” Listenmaa said, adding it’s proving to be “a wellness program that’s well rounded.”

FullSizeRender jpg
Marika Listenmaa assisted in bringing the Yoga For First Responders program to Thunder Bay, Ont. with the help of Leanne Wierzbicki of Breathe Live Breathe Yoga. (Superior North EMS)

Paramedics in Thunder Bay will be in a legal strike position as of April 28. They recently voted 100 per cent in favour of going on strike.

“Nobody wants to have that sort of labour dispute,” said Listenmaa.

As discussions continue, she said it’s important to have a positive space for paramedics to meet outside of work and engage in healthy activities. But for shift workers, it’s often hard to find the time to do so.

The program offers “a nice place to work together in wellness with people you don’t often see,” she added.

This is a positive step for first responders like paramedics, who are all too often associated with negative news.

Listenmaa said it’s important to recognize the positive work going on in Ontario for these crises workers.

“Paramedics are often times not in the news when there are good things happening,” she said.

“This is a good thing for paramedics. We are trying to move forward in a proactive approach, and yoga for first responders is one of those approaches.”

On May16, Superior North EMS will be kicking off EMS Appreciation Week with yoga class led by acting chief Wayne Gates.

Check out this video of Yoga for First Responders at the Los Angeles, CA Fire Department 

Thunder Bay students learn farming from the Pizza Project

A cheesy tradition introduces students to agriculture

By Clare Bonnyman, CBC News Posted: Apr 14, 2016 7:30 AM ET


Grade 3 students from Thunder Bay are learning where all the ingredients for pizza come from at the annual Pizza Project Wednesday and Thursday at the Canadian Lakehead Exhibition.

It’s a tradition for Marian Benka, the honourary director of the CLE, who has been running the annual event for 24 years.

It’s an important way to educate students and bring the farm to the city, she said.

“They have to know that there are a lot of things that go into [pizza] before they can get it,”  Benka said.

Benka expects more than 600 children to attend this year’s two day event.

Students go through eight stations to learn about agriculture, including dairy, sausage, vegetables, machinery and nutrition.

Along the way they plant their very own tomato plant to take home, and at the end they get to savour a hot a slice of pizza.

Thunder Bay girls basketball program celebrates 10-year anniversary

The Lakehead University based program is celebrating a decade of teaching girls how to dribble.

By Clare Bonnyman, CBC News Posted: Apr 16, 2016 8:00 AM ET

2013 Jr Wolves Team Induction
The 2013 U18 Jr. Wolves team was honoured for their achievements at the RBC Spring Social in early April in Thunder Bay, Ont. The team went undefeated and captured both the Ontario Basketball Association Championship and the Minneapolis Youth Athletic Services Championship. (Lakehead University)

Jon Kreiner is celebrating a decade of teaching girls across Thunder Bay, Ont. how to compete on the basketball court.

Coach Kreiner has run the Jr. Wolves program in the city for the past 10 years, working to “develop basketball at a grassroots level in Thunder Bay.”

Based out of Lakehead University’s athletics facilities, the program is the only dedicated girls basketball development program in the city. Over the past decade it’s given more than 400 girls the opportunity to develop their skills at a competitive level.

In 2007 Kreiner formally started the Jr. Wolves program, hoping to “raise the awareness of basketball, the level of basketball, the numbers playing basketball,” among female players.

Coach K
Lakehead Women’s Basketball team coach Jon Kreiner instructing plays on the court. (Lakehead University)

“Girls can be just as high level or involved as the boys in basketball here in Thunder Bay,” he said.

Today the development program runs from October to March, and includes girls from Grades 3-6. The club program, for girls Grades 5-12, starts as soon as the high school basketball season ends in December.

To date, the program has produced over 30 players who have gone on to play basketball at a University level.

Some coaches have also come out of the program, including Katie Ulakovic, assistant coach for Hammerskjold High School’s varsity girls team, and Carolyn Fregale, an OUA All-Star, now a head coach for the Junior girls team at St. Ignatius High School.

Ulakovic was a player on the first Jr. Wolves team that ever played.

“Seeing our girls give back at the high school or the club level, that’s the next evolution of what you’re going to see,” said Kreiner.

Girls can be just as at high a level or involved as the boys in basketball here in Thunder Bay– Coach Jeff Kreiner

The past decade has been all about growth, and creating a space for talent at home, said Kreiner.

Now “we can develop our own players right here in our backyard in Thunder Bay,” he said.

This month the program’s success was toasted at the Lakehead Athletic’s RBC Spring Social, with a visit from local MP and Minister for the Status of Women Patty Hajdu.

Thunder Bay hair salons join international recycling initiative

Cut hair and excess chemicals find a safe home through Green Circle Salons in Thunder Bay, Ont.

By Clare Bonnyman, CBC News Posted: Apr 19, 2016 7:15 AM ET


Evoke Salon & Spa in Thunder Bay, Ont. has recycled over 200 kilograms of solid and liquid waste since joining the the Green Circle Salon program a year ago.

The program includes salons from across Canada and the United States.

Green Circle makes recycling the byproducts of the industry easy by providing bins and containers for the salons to use, and they in turn contact the organization when they need their waste to be picked up.

Amanda Benincasa, the owner and stylist at Evoke says joining the program was an easy decision to make.

“As an owner I felt very responsible to do something,” she said. “It just made perfect sense, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t hear of it sooner.”

The program recycles things like hair foils, colour tubes, chemical waste and the cut hair that falls to the floor, “Things that we were otherwise unable to re-purpose or recycle,” said Benincasa.

The chemicals and bleach from hair treatments get neutralized, and the hair itself is used to create boons, used to help clean up oil spills.


There are still some areas the organization does not yet manage, including esthetician’s equipment like makeup applicators, waxing equipment and the byproducts of pedicures and manicures.

Even so, the effect of the recycling is huge. In the last year alone Green Circle salons recycled over 250,000 kilograms of waste across North America.

And even though it’s a continent-wide organization, for Benincasa it feels very personal.

“We are so blessed to live in Northwestern Ontario,” she said. “As a business owner I think it’s a heightened responsibility, and as a mother, to make sure that I’m doing my part.”

As of right now, Thunder Bay has three Green Circle certified salons, including Streak of Green, Evoke and Modish.

‘Revived and Recycled’ fashion sparks new business for Thunder Bay woman

Revived and Recycled brings eco-friendly fashion to Thunder Bay

By Clare Bonnyman, CBC News Posted: Apr 21, 2016 8:00 AM 

A Thunder Bay, Ont. woman is giving old clothing a second life through her new fashion line.

Revived and Recycled by L. Roy features locally made recycled and reused clothing.

It’s a passion project that started a year ago when Line Roy launched an Etsy.com site to sell her creations.

She’s since decided to pursue fashion full time. She retired from her position as secretary at École Catholique Franco-Supérieur in Thunder Bay, and officially launched her new clothing line the following Monday.

She makes clothing in sizes XXS to plus size.

Turning her basement into a studio, Line has collected over 200 pieces of donated, recycled clothing and fabric to be used in her pieces. (Clare Bonnyman/CBC News)

Roy aims to design unique, beautiful clothing for women that come in “the odd sizes,” she said. “I think every woman no matter what size, no matter where they come from or what they do in their life is beautiful.”

Using primarily knits, she focuses on non-restrictive clothing without zippers or ties.

“You can move with the clothing, it’s comfortable,” she said.

“It’s happy clothing.”

Roy’s basement currently holds more than 200 pieces of recycled clothing and fabric, hung on racks, in closets, and stacked on shelves. All of the clothes have been donated by friends, family and clients.

She uses anywhere from 3-10 recycled pieces to create one new dress, and can use a single recycled item to create multiple unique pieces.

Before retiring, Roy would design clothes every evening and weekend, but is thankful now to dedicate herself to the craft full time.

“It’s so much fun I can’t not do it,” she said.

On her ‘shabby-chic’ style, she said it comes together in the moment.

“I love it so much that stuff starts to happen, I rarely have a plan,” she said. “I just figure if you put something together it belongs together.”

Before her official launch, Roy has sold pieces in Canada, the United States and France, and is now hoping to expand even more internationally.

Turning her basement into a studio, Line has collected over 200 pieces of donated, recycled clothing and fabric to be used in her pieces. (Clare Bonnyman/CBC News)