The Scouts Canada nation-wide Jamboree was held in Thunder Bay in 1997. A major event with thousands of participants, Canada Jamboree 97 made use of a variety of locations across the city and the area. These sites included Boulevard Lake, the Marina, and Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. This attempt to “Wake the Giant” set a new standard for future Jamborees.aerial shot of the cities and large groups of people

The opening ceremony was an event in itself, featuring a hundred dancers, aerial demonstrations, and a performance by the Bare Naked Ladies, who were all involved in Scouting at some point in their lives. In attendance was Governor General Romeo LeBlanc (Canada’s Chief Scout), and National Chief of The Assembly of First Nations Ovide Mercredi, both of whom welcomed the scouts with speeches. This opening ceremony, as well as the closing ceremony, was closed to the public to keep these ceremonies as meaningful to the scouts as possible.

The next week was filled with unbelievable activities. Hundreds of events took place for the scouts to participate in, such as rock climbing, swimming, building boats, and producing TV programs. One activity that seems to have been particularly memorable was Mud Mania: an obstacle course where you get right down and dirty to beat out your friends in attempt to be the first to finish.

A wooden bridge built across the water with people walking alongThe scouts were also given the opportunity to learn about First Nations culture and history. The experience included living out of doors, making their own clothing, and sharing stories around the fire, and encouraged the scouts to relate to a part of Canadian culture they may not have been exposed to before.

Thirteen thousand scouts from around the world didn't show up all by themselves. The City of Thunder Bay's Ad Hoc Advisory Committee worked wonders to make this dream become real. They started planning five years in advance to ensure that the CJ ’97 would be the best Jamboree to date. Everyone involved put in extra effort to make this event stand out. Thunder Bay Transit arranged to let the scouts ride for a one-dollar fare. This was also the first A line of men standing clapping with some wearing regalia Jamboree to employ paid workers as well as volunteers, as men and women were hired to build the floating bridge crossing Boulevard Lake and the stage used for the opening ceremonies.

Even with the Committee’s outstanding planning, events still took place at the Jamboree of 1997 that no one could have predicted. People made amazing friendships world wide, learned things they never even considered thinking about, and some never wanted to leave. Residents of Thunder Bay who in the beginning didn’t want the Jamboree to be held in their home town found themselves asking when these marvelous young people would find their way back again. This event had an emotional impact on scouts and citizens alike.

The Jamboree went off without a hitch thanks to the premium planning by scouters and city officials, and countless helping citizens. Over 13,000 scouts, parents, volunteers, and leaders made this event into one that is still remembered fondly today, and showed why Scouting is the largest youth moment in the world.

 Air Show at Opening Ceremonies

This newspaper clipping depicts Sgt. James Lamothe of the Canadian Forces SkyHawks parachute demonstration team, practicing before the Opening Ceremony of Canada Jamboree 1997, on July 12. The SkyHawks' demonstration was followed by speeches, music and dance performances by scouts, and a performance by the Bare Naked Ladies.


an airplane putting on a show

Chronicle-Journal photograph.

 Scouts with The Bare Naked Ladies

The Opening Ceremony of Canada Jamboree 1997 on 12 July included a performance by the band The Bare Naked Ladies. Here, the band meets with scouts after the show.


scouts and leaders with members of a band

Photograph courtesy of Bill Taylor.

 Mud Mania

 Many scouts participated in the Mud Mania obstacle course, which was set up near the Current River Recreation Centre. The program booklet reads:

"Challenge yourself and your unit to a period of strenuous, slippery, slimy activity in this special obstacle course. Only the fittest will survive. Are you one of them? Be prepared to get dirty, wet, and exhausted."


A group of men and boys playing volleyball in the mud

People on their stomachs crawling through the mud under netting

A cut out newspaper article showing a boy wearing goggles

Photographs courtesy of Earle Belfry and the Chronicle-Journal. 

 Scouts Visting From Around the World

Scouts, Venturers, and volunteers visited Thunder Bay from dozens of countries around the world for Canada Jamboree 1997. This photograph shows a group of scouts who travelled from Jamaica.


A group of scouts laughing and putting their hands up in front of trees

Photograph courtesy of Joy Cummings

 First Nations International Powwow

 Visiting scouts had the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of activities in conjunction with the First Nations Intertribal Powwow. The program booklet reads:


"A unique cultural experience awaits you at the First Nations' encampment on Cumberland Street (southern end of Boulevard Lake). Your one program period visit (morning or afternoon), or overnight stay at the site will  increase your understanding of First Nations' culture, heritage, language and traditional practices. Learn about ceremonies and meet traditional elders, craftspeople, artists, dancers and singers. Make yourself an authentic craft to share with your friends and family. If you feel up to the challenge, participate in the Inuit Games. They will test your physical strength and stamina!"

an indigenous man in regalia with scouts standing alongside

Chronicle-Journal photograph.

 Activites at the Jamboree


A typed booklet with activities listed for the Scouts

Wake the Giant at CJ'97!

CJ'97 July 12-20, 1997 Thunder Bay, Ontario

  • Join the Program: Attend the event of a lifetime. It's definitely "Superior by Nature". The Program reflects the unique opportunities that abound on the shores of Lake Superior. The Program is designed around eight exciting themes: geology, water, heritage, fur trade, transportation, communication, forestry and fishing. Something for everyone!
  • Jamboree Program Booklet: Obtain a Jamboree Program Booklet from your local Scouts Canada office. It provides complete activity descriptions, instructions and a booking form. Get yours today.
  • Jump in the Lake!: Boulevard Lake fills the centre of the Jamboree site. You can't miss it; you're bound to get wet. Have a swim, walk on water, do some canoeing, kayaking or sailing. Your choice!
  • The Sleeping Giant: Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is a densely wooded wilderness area ideal for adventures: rugged coastlines, awesome cliffs and plenty of lakes. Great for shutterbugs.
  • Big Thunder: Explore Olympic calibre ski jumps and cross country ski trails. Without snow? You'll have to check out this program!
  • Scoutship Enterprise: You'll find hi-tech activities galore! Try TV production, some desktop publishing, graffiti art or surf the Net. Rise to the challenge.

A list of special activities written in black with yellow highlight

Special Activities

  • Thunder Dome: Visit the "Hub" of the Jamboree. Here you will get a chance to meet celebrities, check out the exhibits and displays, visit the Food Court, swap badges or just visit friends. Exercise your lungs at the Jamboree Karaoke stage.
  • First Nations: The on-site encampment will give all campers a unique exposure to First Nations culture. Visit a First Nations Pow-Wow and participate in spiritual activities, dancing and feasting.
  • Environmental Focus: Scouts Canada believes that good conservation is good citizenship. We provide opportunities for our members to demonstrate a personal awareness and concern for the environment through education and action. Many of the program activities involve an environmental challenge. CJ'97 will be an environmentally wise experience.
  • Venturer Service Program: This program has continued to develop into one of the most challenging and rewarding opportunities a Venturer can find. Developed around the "Voyageur" theme, the Program is designed to challenge Venturers who wish to attend CJ as staff members. All registered Companies have received information about the Program and special Training Camp.
  • Indaba: Designed for adults, the Indaba Program provides workshops and activities for those working in an Offer-of-Service role with kids or as a unit leader. Fill out the Indaba Survey found in your Program Booklet.

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 Local Beavers with Murals

A local Beaver colony stands in front of a set of mural paintings at Canada Jamboree 97.


A group of young boys standing in front of an airplane with flags

 Photograph courtesy of Joy Cummings

 Here it Comes Poster for CJ'97

 This poster advertising the Canada Jamboree 1997 was sent to scouting groups across the country.


A poster with a picture of the waterfront overlaid with text

The text reads:

Here it Comes!

Announcing CJ'97 The 9th Scouts Canada Jamboree 9ieme Boulevard Lake, Thunder Bay, Ontario July 12-20, 1997

Scout leaders and Venturer Advisors! Plan now to attend CJ'97. Get the kids excited. Bring the whole troop or company! Registration will be on a FIRST COME, FIRST SERVED basis. Register early to secure your unit's attendance. There will be no quotas. Registration forms will be available in March, 1996.

Big Thunder: Where East Meets west Our CJ'97 site is in the city of Thunder Bay, ON. Come and hear the legend of the Sleeping Giant. How about a visit to the Canadian Ski Jump Training Facility? Participate in a Pow-Wow!

Something for Everyone We're planning an exciting program. It'll meet everyone's interests. Program selection will be theme-oriented. Magnificent hiking trails, on-site rock climbing and rappelling, mountain biking, a visit to Old Fort William, water activities and a First Nations' encampment on-site are but a small sampling of planned activities.

Sound great? See you there!

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 Program Booklet

Cover of the Program Booklet for Scouts Canada Jamboree 1997. This 58-page booklet contained information on all planned events for participants to choose from.


A pamphlet detailing the activities occurring during the Jamboree

A typed document detailing a welcome message from the program director

A Word from the Camp Chief:

As your Camp Chief I look forward to welcoming you to CJ'97, the IX Canadian Jamboree at Thunder Bay Ontario.  

You will join as many as 12,500 other participants and nearly 2,000 Staff members who have come together to enjoy and celebrate Scouting. On the 90th Anniversary of our Movement's founding by Lord Baden Powell, we have much to celebrate and share with each other and with those from abroad who will be joining us at CJ'97.

Superior By Nature is an excellent motto for this great event by the lake that was, and is, central to the crossroads of this wonderful Country of ours. To enjoy the Country and the Jamboree, we must be cognizant of others with whom we share this land and this event. Reach out and get to know each other. Share a meal, a song, a hike, a swim, a game, ... but whatever you choose ... just do it!!

Our time together will go by very quickly as the Program "Kicks In" and events unfold. To get the most out of this experience, read this manual carefully and follow the few rules and the many helpful hints. This will make for a less stressful and much happier time for all and will ensure we all get the most from our Jamboree.

I look forward to meeting you at Boulevard Lake and to sharing this Unique Scouting Adventure.

Get ready ... and ... be prepared ... to ... have fun!!

Herb Pitts, Camp Chief

A typed document detailing the activties that occured during the Jamboree

Program Director's Welcome

Glad you are joining our program -- it's "Superior By Nature" It looks like you are really going to do it! You made the decision to attend CJ'97 the 9th Canadian Jamboree in Thunder Bay, Ontario and now you are ready to make your next decisions. None of these decisions are easy but I think you will have fun as you go through this Jamboree Program Book with other members of your Patrol or Company and decide on just what you are going to do at the jamboree. I know you will find that the region "North of Superior" will be the setting for you to have fun and meet your challenges. I will also bet that on a few occasions the other Scouts in your sub camp will be awestruck as they see you returning from a great activity with your whole unit grossed out in dirt!!

Your Program Schedule Your jamboree program will consist of eleven (11) program periods. You will be booked into nine (9) program periods, with one period being scheduled as unit directed (free time) and a second scheduling your unit into the Thunder Dome. For most units the first program period will be Sunday afternoon but units travelling off site will be underway Sunday morning. Units will be finished their program by the Closing Ceremony on Friday night.

Unscheduled Activities We hope that your time at the jamboree will be spent doing fun things. Some of these things will be program but some may be activities that include other people you know at the jamboree, new friends you meet and perhaps just some things on your own. You will find several places at the jamboree where there are things to do or displays to see that are unscheduled.

The Thunder Dome I don't have to tell you to look for it. You won't be able to miss it! The Thunder Dome is the heartbeat of the jamboree. Located on the west side of Boulevard Lake follow your ears and your eyes to the action at CJ'97. The Thunder Dome is the place to swap badges, participate in environmental games, pig-out on fast food, test your Scouting knowledge, purchase souvenirs, swim, make leather crafts, get autographs from sports stars and much more. There will be opportunities for you to have fun with Scouts from across Canada and from many other countries.

You can make it happen! Although CJ'97 is still a long way away, the opportunities for fun and challenge are "Superior by Nature." You can ensure your participation in this fun by working with your unit today to decide on your program for CJ. The sooner you make your decisions, the sooner you can send it in. The sooner it is received the more likely it is that you will get the program you would like. I personally guarantee that no matter what, your CJ'97 Program will be wicked!

Environmental Focus Dedicated as we are to the principles of Scouting, the CJ'97 Program has been designed to be wise in the use of our resources, and environmentally friendly. You will find part of many of your program activities will involve dealing with an environmental challenge. The design of the whole program has used several of the recommendations from the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics. We are proud and excited to be taking an active role in making this jamboree an environmentally wise experience.

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About this exhibit:

City of Thunder Bay Archives series used for research include Port Arthur City Clerk's Files, Fort William City Clerk's Files, Thunder Bay City Clerk's Files, Aerial Photographs, Thunder Bay City Clerk's Photographs, and Thunder Bay Planning Department Photographs.

To learn more about this subject, as well as any other historical information on Thunder Bay that interests you, please visit or contact the City of Thunder Bay Archives.

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