New Touring App Gives Guided Tours to City History, Art, Food

By Matt Prokopchuk

A new app being launched today by Tourism Thunder Bay and the city promises to give residents and visitors an in-depth look at some local history, architecture, public art, and a sense of the city’s food scene.

The Thunder Bay Tours app is available for iPhone and Android devices and, at launch, comes pre-loaded with seven guided tours of prominent Thunder Bay neighbourhoods, as well as one for the north-side waterfront’s public art displays and another focusing on local food producers. The app came about as part of the planning and project brainstorming for the city’s 50th anniversary celebrations, but its actual roll out was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, says Paul Pepe, the manager of Tourism Thunder Bay. Users select from the nine available tours and walk or drive to the locations the app highlights while it gives information and details about each stop. The app itself is free to download.

“Some of these tours focus on architecture, some of them focus on some of the historical stories of our city,” Pepe says. “It’s a great way to kind of learn more about different parts of our city that perhaps [people] haven’t given much thought to.”

The seven neighbourhood tours include the north and south cores, Westfort, and the East End, as well as the Vickers Park, McVicar Creek, and Waverley Park areas. Pepe says these ones, especially, are geared for walkers. Some tours are longer than others, he adds, with the number of stops ranging from 20 to 34. The developers also plan to add several more tours over the summer and fall as well, Pepe says, with plans to keep expanding as more ideas are developed.

“We’re already thinking of new itineraries,” he says. “I’ve been playing around with it […] myself, and it’s fun, it’s really neat because you just learn about neighbourhoods and learn about parts of our city that have so much history to them—perhaps they may not seem like an obvious tourism experience, but they are.”

The app can also have a secondary benefit, Pepe says, as he says he hopes it will encourage users to stop into local businesses they pass by as they’re doing the virtually-guided tours. “While people are on these walking tours, you know, they’ll stop and grab coffee or grab dessert, stop for lunch or dinner,” he says. “So it’s a great way to kind of extend the visitor experience in the community and explore a bit more.”