365 Canadian Sights | Day 99: The Sleeping Giant of Thunder Bay

From this angle the giant’s head is a little smaller and there is no Adam’s apple. | Image from Wikimedia/Ryan Hodnett via CC BY SA 4.0 |

While many natural formations only vaguely resemble their namesake, the Sleeping Giant is a dead ringer for what a huge prone person would look like, resting on their back.

In reality it’s a bunch of cliffs on Sibley Peninsula, rising 380 m over Lake Superior and creating a 250 m drop from cliff to base. These dramatic geological formations create a well defined prone human form. The cliffs are part of Sleeping Giant Provincial Park now, a protected area covering the Sibley Peninsula.

Local Ojibway legend says the giant form appeared after white men learned about a silver deposit on the peninsula.

I never really thought much of it until I saw it. The Man in the Moon I could see, but it’s not great. The Lions above Vancouver I never really got. I’d heard of the Sleeping Giant long before I had the chance to see it, so I figured it’d be more of the same, but when you’re standing in the right spot you immediately see it. I wasn’t really looking for it, just enjoying the view from the Terry Fox Memorial, and then it just sort of snapped into focus, like a Magic Eye poster.

To be fair though, the giant isn’t visible from all directions, but conveniently, it’s very visible from the north, looking across a section of Thunder Bay (the body of water, not the town).

While the park the giant is physically in is a nice park, that’s not the sight this is about. To see the big snoozy man lying by the water, you’ll have to get to Thunder Bay (well just east of it). Driving from Toronto is likely to take the better part of 2 days — Google estimates 15 hours of driving time which seems about right; when I drove I left Toronto midday on day one and made it to Thunder Bay dinner time on day two. Flying to Thunder Bay is an option, airfare is around $250-$300 round trip, so it’s not gross.

On the upside, parking on the side of the road is free.

Atlas Obscura has a profile on the giant. It doesn’t rank very high in all of Ontario for things to do according to TripAdvisor, but it’s a big deal in the region. However, since the sight is seen from quite a few areas, it’s hard to peg down where to shoot from. The internet seems to suggest Hillcrest Park in Thunder Bay, but I saw it from the Terry Fox Memorial as well, so there’s a few kilometers of shoreline to pick from.

The Ontario Parks website for Sleeping Giant Park is here.

Editor’s Notes —This is an updated version of the post I published last year when I took the first swing at this project.

Photos • FeaturedGallery 1Gallery 2Gallery 3

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