Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Beautiful Middle Falls near Fort William and Port Arthur(Thunder Bay) Ontario!

Another Provincial Blunder has taken place over the last number of years. It was the closing of Middle Falls Provincial Park, campground and picnic area. It is open as only hiking trails today but has grown over and fallen into disrepair due to the lack of funding by the Provincial Gov't. It used to be on the main highway 61 on route to the USA about 35 minutes from Thunder Bay, but when the new border crossing was constructed, the powers to be claimed that re-routing highway 61 hurt business. This park is only about 1/2 mile from the newer highway, and the fact that the government let it go into disrepair was the reason for it's demise.

This first photo from an Ontario travel brochure, taken in about 1960 shows the park in its heyday with a family enjoying a picnic there. There used to be a number of campsites, a gift shop, a swimming area and pool and many picnic tables, washroom and shower facilities. I have many fond memories of my own family spending many a Sunday afternoon there and also camping weekends when I was a child and when I was first married. The second photo shows the ever-flowing and beautiful Middle Falls taken a few weeks ago now almost forgotten by most of the population of Thunder Bay.

In the left photo you can see picnic tables and an outdoor fireplace to cook, and the right photo shows the walkway to the falls and a predominant highway 61 sign with a historical marker. These photos were taken in the late 1940's. Behind the family standing there, a pool and swimming area was also constructed(you can just see the edge of the kids pool) and off to the right was a gift shop and small restaurant. It is almost unrecognizable that any of this existed if you visit the park today.

Here are a couple of great before and after shots showing how it was in about 1950 and how it is so grown over and abandoned today. These photos were taking from approximately the same spot, coming down the hill before the park on the way home from the old Pigeon River border crossing.

Here you can see the remnants of the swimming pool that kids once enjoyed including myself. The photo to the right shows the plaque, the only thing the Ontario Government left on the property.

Here on the plaque is a little historical note and the areas I circled on the map show where Middle Falls is in relation to the newer Canada/US border crossing. On the American side they are building a very beautiful and completely new modern camping facility, typically showing up the Canadians. Shame on our Provincial Government and MPP's for letting this beautiful spot go to ruin. Lets tell our government officials to restore this park to its original beauty as it truly deserves so we can continue to enjoy it for years to come.
Click on most photos to enlarge!


Linda R said...

I remember going out there as a small child. I ventured out that way earlier this year and stopped to take pictures of the Middle Falls. It was really sad to see it so overgrown. It's not that far off of Hwy 61 and you can get there easily for a family picnic or camping trip (other provincial parks are located much, much further from Thunder Bay)

Lou Wassenaar said...

We used to go out there when I was a kid. I remember the sluice for bringing logs past High Falls. There was also a restaurant and gift shop near the bottom of the falls. The last time I camped there was in the early 70s with a church youth group. Too bad it is no longer maintained.

Anonymous said...

We stopped at Middle Falls on 5-16-14 and were sad to find such a beautiful place in such a state of disrepair. We are from Wisconsin and had never been there before. We just like to explore back roads. This could be a wonderful destination again with clean up, shoreline restoration, removal of the crumbling pavement and abandoned structures, proper roadside parking and restrooms. It is a wonderful spot for a hike or picnic. The geology in the area is of much interest in addition to the waterfalls. This place has been left to ruin. Ontario, you can do better! Maureen S., Chippewa Falls, WI.

Dave Cano said...

We all totally agree...thanks for your comment!

Anonymous said...

there used to be an old logging trail that passes through there or something and comes out behind rydens on the USA side. does anybody know where that is its supposed to be an awesome ATV and snowmobile trail and i can't seem to find anybody that knows where it is.... thanks! Donny M.

Dave Cano said...

You got me on that one Donny. It would have to have been a winter trail, as the Pigeon River does align with the US/CAN border...and would have to be crossed at some time. You may be thinking of something totally different where there was once a proposed highway along an old trail that would have been north of Grand Marais Mn up the Gunflint Trail near the "End of the Trail Lodge" on the US side and somewhere near Whitefish Lake north of Thunder Bay on the Canadian side.