Thunder Bay takes its name from the immense bay at the head of Lake Superior, known on 18th century French maps as "Baie du Tonnerre". The city is often referred to as the Lakehead because of its location at the head of the Great Lakes. Thunder Bay is the sunniest city in eastern Canada with an average of 2167.7 hours of bright sunshine each year.
Thunder Bay is a vibrant and growing community and is the region's commercial, administrative and medical hub. From trees to transportation to the new frontier for research, health and life sciences, the community stands for hard work and innovation. Thunder Bay has been actively working to attract "knowledge-based" industries, primarily in the fields of biotechnology and molecular medicine. Canadian Business Magazine ranked Thunder Bay in the top ten best cities in Canada in which to conduct business (2005).
Thunder Bay is a four-season outdoor paradise and is one of the most dynamic "Cultural Capitals of Canada". Residents and visitors of Thunder Bay enjoy the harmony of a city rich in wide-open green spaces, parks and wilderness - and a major centre for visual and performing arts, and culture. Thunder Bay provides the amenities of an urban centre while opening the gateway to outdoor adventure in Northwestern Ontario.
A city with deeply rooted European and Aboriginal cultures, Thunder Bay is the sixth most culturally diverse community of its size in North America. Some of the most represented ethnic backgrounds include Finnish, Italian, Scottish, Ukrainian, Polish, French, Aboriginal Canadian, Chinese and Croatian.
The City by the Bay is home to 38 elementary schools, three middle schools, eight secondary schools, two private schools and an adult education facility which are administered by the Lakehead District School Board, the Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board and the Conseil scolaire de district catholique des Aurores boréales. Post secondary institutions in Thunder Bay include Confederation College and Lakehead University, and since 2005, the western campus of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine - the first medical school to open in North America in over 30 years. The city also has several other private colleges and tutoring programs.
Thunder Bay receives substantial air, rail and shipping traffic due to its prime location in the centre of Canada along major continental transportation routes and its proximity to the United States. The city is an important railway hub, served by both the Canadian National and Canadian Pacific Railway and has been an active port since the days of the North West Company. The Port of Thunder Bay is the largest outbound port on the St. Lawrence Seaway System and the sixth largest port in Canada. The Thunder Bay International Airport is the third busiest in Ontario and was the first Canadian airport to eliminate its airport improvement fees.