Elle Andra-Warner

Elle Andra-Warner is a veteran travel writer and has an abiding curiosity in all things unusual. Her monthly column Strange Tales covers everything from UFO sightings to historic oddities.

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Recent Articles by Elle Andra-Warner

The Lark of Duluth: Making Aviation History
posted on Monday, Aug 28, 2017
Did you know the inaugural flight of the world’s first regularly scheduled airline flight had a strong Duluth connection? Aviation history was made on January 1, 1914 when the Benoist XIV No. 43 biplane the Lark of Duluth, owned by Duluth’s wealthy grain merchant Julius Howland Barnes, flew the historic inaugural flight of the world’s first regularly scheduled airline, Florida’s St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line. The biplane flew from St. Petersburg to Tampa with pioneering pilot Tony Jannus. In June of 1913, the biplane had been purchased by Barnes for $5,000…

Linking Ley Lines and Earth’s Energy with Ancient Sites
posted on Thursday, Aug 24, 2017
Are there powerful earth energy points – like in Sedona, Ariz. – right here in our Northern Wilds areas? Did the ancient peoples in Minnesota, Ontario and nearby areas have the knowledge of how to find those energy lines and use them to place their stone circles, burial mounds and sacred sites? And what are the ley lines that some researchers theorize can connect these sites? Does this ancient rock formation mark a mysterious ley line? | MN DNR My curiosity in the subject came about after a dinner conversation…

The Unsolved Mystery of the Northern Lights
posted on Wednesday, Aug 23, 2017
My first memory of northern lights—formally known as the aurora borealis—goes back about 40 years, when I was a youngster growing up on Munro Street in Port Arthur (now part of Thunder Bay). I still remember looking up one night and being mesmerized by the strange white and green lights moving silently across the black sky. Green is a common northern lights color. | TERRY PARKER/NWTT My mother said it was angels dancing in the heavens. At the time, I believed her. In world folklore, the roots of the northern…

The Legendary Buffalo Bill and His Connection to Duluth
posted on Wednesday, Aug 23, 2017
When Colonel William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody (born Feb. 26, 1846) and his famous Wild West show first came to Duluth on Sept. 12, 1896, thousands attended the popular entertainment spectacular at 28th Avenue West and Superior Street. The legendary Buffalo Bill. | SUBMITTED He was already a living American icon, celebrated for his bravery and skills as a wrangler, dispatch rider, frontiersman, militia man, and buffalo hunter (his nickname came from killing 4,280 buffalo in 17 months while working to feed buffalo to Kansas railroad construction crews in 1867);…

Standing on the Grounds of History
posted on Tuesday, Jul 25, 2017
The Mountain Portage trail at Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park is 1.25 km long on a hard-packed, easy-walking gravel trail. | ELLE ANDRA-WARNER People were making history here in our Northern Wilds well before there was England’s Stonehenge or Egypt’s Great Pyramids. For example, back more than about 9,000 years, mystery miners were digging for copper at Isle Royale. Around that same time on a glacial beach on Lake Superior near Thunder Bay, at what is now called the Lakehead Complex, circa 7,000 B.C., Paleoindians had quarry workshops and habitation sites.…

The Red Chairs of Lake Superior
posted on Monday, Jul 24, 2017
Red Chairs at the Battle Island Lighthouse. | PARKS CANADA Thunder Bay—The quest is on to find “Red Chairs” in Canada, including along Lake Superior’s North Shore. Travellers, hikers, paddlers and boaters have been seeking out sets of red Adirondack-style chairs (Ontarians call them Muskoka-style) placed by Parks Canada at unique locations throughout Canada, such as national parks, national historic sites, marine conservation areas, and other cultural and natural sites. It all started a few years ago after staff at Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland and Labrador scattered 18…

Innovations from the Aboriginal Peoples
posted on Thursday, Jun 29, 2017
The Moccasin Game being played at a trading post in Onamia, Minnesota, sometime prior to 1950s. | POSTCARD COLLECTION Though the country of Canada came into existence 150 years ago on July 1, the land had already been inhabited for many thousands of years by the First Peoples of the Americas, and many of their ancient inventions and innovations are now part of modern society.   In the 2014 article “10 Native Inventions and Innovations That Changed the World” that appeared in the online magazine Indian Country Today, writer Vincent…

Alexander Henry is coming home to Thunder Bay
posted on Tuesday, Jun 27, 2017
The Alexander Henry when it was moored down in Picton after the Marine Museum of Great Lakes in Kingston had to move from their property and had no place to put the Henry. | PAUL MORRALEE Thunder Bay—Wondering what ever happened to bringing back to Thunder Bay the former Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Alexander Henry, which was built in 1958 in Thunder Bay and in 1985 became a museum ship in Kingston, Ontario? Well, the good news update (as we go to press) is the Henry is now on her…

Trowbridge Island Lighthouse
posted on Wednesday, May 31, 2017
It’s a 90-minute sail on Sail Superior’s 40-foot Frodo to get to Trowbridge Island, which is located about 15 miles northeast of Thunder Bay. | ELLE ANDRA-WARNER Thunder Bay—This summer, one of Ontario’s prettiest lighthouses on Lake Superior—Trowbridge Island Lighthouse—is getting a fresh look, thanks to the volunteers of the Canadian Lighthouses of Lake Superior Inc. (CLLS), an umbrella organization formed to restore lighthouses along the North Shore. CLLS will be updating and reconditioning the dock, carrying out conservation work, fixing the floor in the lighthouse keepers’ semi-detached house, painting…

The History of Canada
posted on Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Camp at McVicars Creek by William Armstrong (Thunder Bay, Ontario; Red River Expedition, July 1870). |TORONTO PUBLIC LIBRARY Back on July 1, 1867, the country started with four provinces, population between 3 and 3.5 million, and Sir John Macdonald as its first Prime Minister of Canada. It was the British North America Act of 1867 that united three British colonies in North America—Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the Province of Canada (consisting of Canada West and Canada East)—into “one Dominion under the name of Canada.” Those three colonies became the founding…

Speaking Canadian, eh?
posted on Monday, May 01, 2017
Recently, an article “Look North for Real Canadian English” appeared in the National Post (one of Canada’s two national newspapers) quoting Toronto linguist Sali Tagliamonte as saying, “Northern Ontario shelters a brand of English not seen in Toronto since 1970s. It’s like linguistic time traveling.” Tagliamonte was referring to changes in language, giving the example of “I’ve got a cold” vs “I have a cold.” Apparently, the first one falls into the Northern Ontario time travel category, the second is today’s urban Toronto talk. Which words you use might tell…

The North Shore’s Mayan-inspired Resort
posted on Tuesday, Mar 28, 2017
Aztec Hotel from its early days with “Illgen” letters on the Mayan column-like exterior and four 1920s Red Crown gas pumps in front. | DAVE CANO COLLECTION So, how did a Mayan-inspired landmark resort end up on the North Shore? Back in the 1920s and 1930s, an architecture movement known as the Mayan Revival was popular with American architects, who blended Mayan building styles with motifs of other pre-Columbian Meso-American cultures, such as the Aztec. Architect Robert Stacey-Judd’s famous Aztec Hotel was built in 1924 in Monrovia, California and he…

Building with used steel shipping containers
posted on Monday, Feb 27, 2017
Thunder Bay—A cozy house built of steel? Shipping container architecture—using recycled shipping containers of heavy gauge steel as building blocks—is a growing worldwide trend. These containers can carry 30 tonnes of cargo across the oceans, sometimes stacked up nine tall on a ship. And many only travel one-way, because it’s not cost-effective to ship back empty containers. So, what can you do with these 20-foot or 40-foot used containers of heavy gauge steel? Plenty. The repurposed containers can be transformed into unique, eco-friendly, durable, stackable structures, from hobby sheds, cabins…

When Bombs Dropped on Northern Minnesota's Big Bog
posted on Friday, Feb 24, 2017
The discovery of a bomb casing in a lake in northern Minnesota’s Big Bog—technically named the Red Lake Peatlands—led Doug Easthouse, DNR park manager of the Big Bog State Recreation Area and two other state parks, to research how a bomb got into the bog. What he uncovered was almost 20 years of military history when the Big Bog was used as a bombing and artillery range. Easthouse first heard about the bomb in August 2010 from two researchers who had been studying the ecosystem of bogs since the 1970s.…

Stone Mysteries in the Northern Wilds
posted on Wednesday, Feb 01, 2017
It is the “stones” in the world that hold some of the greatest mysteries, like Stonehenge in England; giant statues on Easter Island; rune stones in Scandinavia; and standing stones of Cornwall. And here in the Northern Wilds of Minnesota and Ontario, we also have ancient mysterious stone structures, including puzzling petroglyphs, strange stone boxes, stone dolmens, circles of stones and perhaps even a stone pyramid. On a road leading to the east end of Whitefish Lake, there are secret petroglyphs (engravings cut into rock) on bedrock—secret because they are…

Ice diving into an upside down world
posted on Wednesday, Feb 01, 2017
Thunder Bay—Ice diving takes diving to a new level and into a completely different world. Considered a type of “penetration diving,” the dive takes place under ice, typically with only one entry or exit point. Thunder Bay veteran diver and instructor Wally Peterson, owner of Wally’s Thunder Country Diving, explained, “What’s up is down, what’s down is up. You can use the ice as the floor. An ice diver can stand and walk, even skate, upside down on the ice ceiling.” While ice diving is not for everyone, it is…

Thunder Bay Centennial Botanical Conservatory turns 50
posted on Tuesday, Jan 31, 2017
Thunder Bay—The year-round tropical oasis in the middle of Thunder Bay, the Centennial Botanical Conservatory, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The Conservatory, which opened on Nov. 18, 1967, was a centennial project of the Fort William Board of Parks management to commemorate Canada’s 100th birthday (cities of Fort William and Port Arthur were amalgamated by the Ontario government in 1970 to form the City of Thunder Bay). It cost $162,000 (equal to about $1.2 million in 2016) to construct the Conservatory, using 18 tons of glass and steel…

Lee Fedorchuk creates chainsaw sculptures
posted on Tuesday, Dec 27, 2016
Thunder Bay—Have you ever noticed the six-foot killer whale on Thunder Bay’s Memorial Avenue? And nearby, the blue heron, standing bear, pelican and giant mushroom, plus a life-size ninja warrior and mountain man? The statue-like carvings are some of the latest of more than 1,700 chainsaw sculptures that Thunder Bay’s Lee Fedorchuk has crafted in the past 23 years. At his North of Superior Carving shop on Memorial Avenue across from Intercity Mall, latest finished sculptures are on display outside alongside where he uses his chainsaw to make new ones.…

The Grey Jay: Canada's National Bird
posted on Friday, Dec 23, 2016
It was an announcement in mid-November that many Canadians didn’t see coming. That’s when the Royal Canadian Geographical Society (RCGS), publisher of Canadian Geographic magazine, at their AGM in Ottawa set the media abuzz with their official recommendation that the grey jay be Canada’s national bird as part of the celebrations for the country’s 150th year of existence this year. RCGS had selected the grey jay—more commonly known as the whisky jack and before 1957, as the Canada jay—after an online popular vote by Canadians, a lively public debate and…

Christmas Pasts: Childhood Memories
posted on Tuesday, Nov 29, 2016
Whether it’s recent or from your childhood, it seems everyone has a favorite Christmas or holiday memory; something special that you’ll never forget. Maybe it’s when you finally got that puppy you had been begging for. Or perhaps it was the warm, fuzzy feeling you got while singing Christmas carols as a child at the local nursing home. Curious, we asked a few of our writers to tell us about their favorite Christmas memories. By Elle Andra-Warner Looking back at past Christmases, two special memories spring up from my childhood…