At least 2 minutes
Beth and I recently travelled to Thunder Bay for our summer vacation. I had been to Thunder Bay once before, only long enough to see the Sleeping Giant and eat at the Hoito. Beth had never seen northern Ontario, and she wanted to change that. I would get to eat at the Hoito again. It was a win-win.
We had a lovely time in the city and surrounding region, stomach enjoying the food and the sights, and it was a short trip to a nearby provincial park that was the highlight of our four days at the top of the great lakes.
When we picked up our car at the airport we asked the agent for some suggestions of things to do. Straight away he recommended seeing Kakabeka Falls and added, “They should be really good right now. We’ve had a lot of rain recently.” It was already on our list of things to do and with his suggestion we confirmed our plan to go the next morning.
I was not prepared to be moved like I was.
The park is just a short drive from Thunder Bay, about thirty minutes north and right off the TransCanada Highway. While driving in off the road, paying the $5.25 day-use fee, and parking we could neither see nor hear the falls. Then we opened the car door and heard the roar.
Kakabeka Falls are 40 metres high, second in Ontario only to Niagara at 50 metres, and 70 metres across. And true to our agent’s expectation, there was a tremendous volume of water pouring over them. The sight and the sound as we aproached were astounding.
Best of all are the fabulous walkways built on both sides of the river for viewing the falls and the gorge that stretches away below. There is an intimacy with Kakabeka that you do not get at Niagara. It may be that the smaller size of Kakabeka lets you get a little closer. It could be that the remoteness of Kakabeka has allowed the site to be developed over time and for a smaller volume of visitors. However it happened, it is a beautiful space designed so that you can appreciate the beauty of the natural world.
There is something to be said for Kakabeka Falls being in a provincial park, too. You do not come here to check the falls off your list and then head to the ferris wheel, the museum and the slots. You come here to see the falls. You come here to hike the trails or to sleep beneath the stars. You come here to be reminded that we are small and that the Earth is big, that we are here for only a short time and that the Earth has a long, long way to go.