Whenever I visit my hometown, my first stop after the airport is either Coney Island, McKellar’s Confectionery or the aptly named Thunder Bay Restaurant. You see, there’s this thing Thunder Bay has about coney sauce. Anything you order can be served with a huge helping of gravy, and yes, they pour it all over the burger too, in fact, over everything on your plate. And the burgers and hotdogs always have the most delicious coney sauce, ever! Locals love to debate which place has the best. You can even buy it in jars at the local farmers markets.
There’s nothing like it anywhere. Some of the confectioneries drawn on the map still have lunch counters and serve french fries in paper bags! The best!
Here’s a close-up of the part of town I lived in:
I’ve only included places that are still in business. The places I frequented as a kid are long gone
Inside the McKellar Conf. Note the portrait of Gus Kelos on the wall, by Thunder Bay artist Ray Swaluk. Gus would balance dogs on his arm as he readied them for customers. Legendary!
Westfort essentials: Coney Island and The Salsbury Grill. What I remember most about Coney Island is their phone number – it was almost the same as my parents. We frequently received calls!
Merla Mae is another favourite!
Thunder Bay’s cuisine is not limited to this coney stuff, either. I’ve done a lot of work based on the other local delicacy, the persian:
I have many more projects about my home town in the works!
Special delivery from Thunder Bay
Colour Coded, an exhibition by Jamie Q and Ian Phillips, Sept 13 through Nov 3rd at The Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, 34 Isabella Street, Toronto. Open Tuesday – Thursday 7:30 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Facebook event page here.
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