Services & Resources
Written by Fort William First Nation - December 7, 2011
Mount McKay is the most outstanding feature of Thunder Bay’s landscape. The mountain and access road are situated on the Fort William Indian Reserve (#52). Loch Lomond, the reservoir for Thunder Bay South (formerly Fort William) lies at the top. Half way up – at the end of the road – is the scenic lookout with an excellent view of the City and harbour.
A small memorial commemorates the war dead of the Aboriginal people. For those who wish to explore further, there is a path (about a half hour hike) up the eastern face of the mountain. Along the way are a number of regionally uncommon flora species including red and sugar maple, and (beware) poison ivy.
Once on top of the mountain – besides the spectacular view – one may observe glacial erratics as well as dwarfed trees, especially jack pine (Krumholz Effect). There is a small grove of yellow birch growing on the edge of a second maple stand in the bu~h just south of the entrance gate.
Do not attempt to climb the talus slope on the north face of the mountain. It is unstable and dangerous.
McKay was originally known as the “Thunder Mountain” (Animikii-wajiw in the Ojibwe language and locally written as “Anemkiwaucheu”). The mountain is used by the Ojibwe for sacred ceremonies. Only with the construction of the road were non-First Nations allowed on this land.
A lookout exists on the lower eastern plateau at an elevation of 300 metres (980 ft), providing a view of Thunder Bay and the city’s harbour. A small memorial commemorates Aboriginal people that fought in wars. There is a path on the eastern face of the mountain that can be used for hiking. Plants on the mountain include red and sugar maple and poison ivy (animikiibag-”thunder-leaf’ in the Ojibwe language). The top of the mountain has glacial erratics and jack pines. A small grove of yellow birch grows just south of the entrance gate.
A small, unmaintained trail can be used to reach the top from the lookout via the north face, with a heavy gauge steel cable that can be used for support. However, due to the grade and geology (mostly shale) ofthe face, this unsanctioned hike is considered dangerous, and is not recommended for novice hikers.
There is also somewhat of a trail on the west side of the mountain. Shale is predominant in this area, making the western climb considerably less dangerous than the north face.