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Communities and the Arts

North House Folk School

There’s a dynamic arts scene in the Canadian Heart of the Continent, a fusion of traditional and contemporary that fuels the region’s creative spirit with Thunder Bay as its regional hub.

Thunder Bay’s 1,500 seat Community Auditorium, home to the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra, is one of North America’s top performance halls (on a street named for hometown bandleader Paul Shaffer). The region’s largest public exhibition space, Thunder Bay Art Gallery, has more than 90 works of Norval Morrisseau (known as the “Picasso of the North”) in its permanent collection. Then there’s alternative artist-run Definitely Superior Art Gallery and the acclaimed Ahnisnabae Art Gallery which represents more than 70 First Nations artists.

But the region’s art goes beyond the works found inside galleries. Petroglyphs and pictographs created thousands of years ago can still be seen on cliffs and rock slopes. Today’s outside art includes street art murals on buildings, bench paintings and outdoor public art installations.

A wonderfully rich, diverse arts landscape invites discovery throughout the Heart of the Continent.

-Elle Andra-Warner, author of The Edmund Fitzgerald: The Legendary Great Lakes Disaster

“We can learn and benefit from each other. I acknowledge my relatives for their wisdom in the invention of art material – the paint brush that comes from the hair of an animal and the handle from the tree. The Spirit of Art teaches me to use these inventions to create my own paintings.”

-Roy Thomas, renowned Ahnisnabae artist and Canadian icon (1949-2004)

“The land holds its breath in the middle of winter here. The foliage is gone. The color is replaced by stark white snow. The wilderness itself, a solace from human-made environment, restores the ancient resonance of direct contact with the land. But then summer comes. The lakes and rivers are clear and accessible. Color explodes. Bird sounds are everywhere. The rhythm of the decades and seasons is the default tempo. Come here and listen for yourself.”

-Betsy Bowen, Writer and Illustrator