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.

Please follow and like us:


Recent Articles by Elle Andra-Warner

The Alexander Henry opens to the public
posted on Monday, Jun 25, 2018
THUNDER BAY—A year ago in June, the former Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker the Alexander Henry arrived back in her hometown of Thunder Bay to be the museum ship of the Lakehead Transportation Museum Society (LTMS) and a major tourist attraction. And this June, the Henry was opened to the public. “The Alexander Henry’s journey has finally come to an end with her permanent mooring spot at the Pool 6 dock at Marina Park in Thunder Bay. She’s had a remarkable life so far and we’re excited to see her next transformation as Thunder Bay’s first museum…

James Oliver Curwood's Northern Adventures
posted on Wednesday, Jun 13, 2018
“Not far from the rugged and storm-whipped north shore of Lake Superior, and south of the Kaministiquia, yet not as far south as the Rainy River waterway, there lay a paradise lost in the heart of the wilderness world.” James Oliver Curwood, A Country Beyond: A Romance in the Wilderness (1922). Before his death in 1927 at age 48 from blood poisoning, the American outdoor adventurer, conservationist and best-selling fiction writer of his time, James Oliver Curwood, was one of the highest-paid authors in North America. Besides articles, he wrote…

Rescues on Superior
posted on Tuesday, May 29, 2018
After experiencing Lake Superior in his 1872 cross-country expedition, Reverend George Grant wrote, “Though its waters are fresh and clear, Superior is a sea. It breeds storms and rains and fogs, like the sea. It is as cold in mid-summer as the Atlantic.” The legends, shipwrecks, storms and rescues of Lake Superior have made for interesting reading—here’s a few vignettes of dramatic rescues where no lives were lost. The seas were rough and it was foggy in the early morning hours of September 20, 1900 when the 193-foot Canadian steamer St.…

From Earthing to Music from Trees and Plants
posted on Thursday, Mar 29, 2018
What some of us have simply called a “leisure walk in the woods” is emerging as a global wellness movement with the new name of “forest bathing”—and it’s getting lots of media attention. The age-old practice of walking barefoot in the grass, on the beach or elsewhere is now called ‘earthing’ or ‘grounding.’ And some innovative electronic artists are supposedly recording music from trees and plants. Mainstream media including CNN, CTV, National Geographic, The Atlantic, Canada’s major newspapers National Post and Globe & Mail have all featured stories and published…

Ancient Mounds Reveal Powerful Presence of History
posted on Wednesday, Mar 14, 2018
There is something surreal and spiritual about being in a sacred place where the past connects with the present. And some of the most dramatic of those historic places are at ancient sacred mounds found in the Northern Wilds of Minnesota and Northwestern Ontario. A chain of mounds runs along the Rainy River on both the Canadian-U.S. shores for 90 miles. They include Ontario’s famous Manitou Mounds, considered to be Canada’s largest pre-European structures. Part of that chain are the five mounds at the Grand Mound Historical Site located at…

Vessels made of Ice and Concrete
posted on Monday, Feb 26, 2018
Imagine this: a secret 2,000- by 300-foot aircraft carrier built of ice operating in the North Atlantic Ocean at speeds of seven knots with a radius of 7,000 miles, carrying hundreds of bomber planes, a crew of about 3,600, plus operational and repair shops. Or imagine a fleet of concrete U.S. warships or races with canoes made of concrete. Imagination run wild? I first heard of a ship built of ice from the book, Code Name Habbakuk: A Secret Ship Made of Ice by Ottawa author L. D. Cross. I thought it…

The Sourdough Starter Named 'Mark'
posted on Wednesday, Feb 21, 2018
When a neighbour gave me a container of ‘’sourdough starter’’ 25 years ago, I didn’t look after it very well, and after a few months, I threw it away. But recently when I heard about the 100-year-old sourdough starter at Metropolitan Moose Beanery & Cafe (The Moose) in Kakabeka Falls, I took notice of sourdough baking and its remarkable history. The original gooey dough can be kept alive for decades, passing from generation to generation in a family or community, keeping its own unique tangy taste without ever using store-bought…

Thunderbirds: Powerful Spirits of the Sky
posted on Monday, Jan 29, 2018
According to the Ojibwe lore, the legendary mystical giant birds known as thunderbirds (Animikii) once called the top of Thunder Bay’s Mount McKay their home. Located on the Fort William First Nation and known as Animiki-waajiw in Anishinaabe, the towering 1,000-foot mountain—a sacred site to the Ojibwe—looks over the city and Lake Superior. But the mountain welcomes visitors. At the 500-foot level, there’s a scenic lookout and skywalk boardwalk that delivers an amazing panoramic view stretching out into the horizon, and there’s a hiking trail to the mountain top where…

The Journey from ‘Over There’ to ‘Here’
posted on Thursday, Dec 21, 2017
It is somewhat ironic—a strange twist of fate—that a country that forced my parents to flee their homeland of Estonia and that put the Iron Curtain around it for 47 years, gets credit (albeit begrudgingly) for my existence. Some background. During the Second World War, Estonia was first occupied by the Russians (Soviet Union) from 1940-41, then by the Germans 1941-44, and beginning in September 1944, Russians retook Estonia. My parents (Regina Andreus and Jüri Jürivee) had never met before each fled, separately, before the Russians marched back into the…

The Legend of the Christmas Tree Ship
posted on Wednesday, Dec 20, 2017
It must have been a surreal scene: an ice-crusted schooner loaded down with thousands of Christmas trees defying the gales of November to deliver her load to waterfront markets on Lake Michigan. In a span of about 50 years—between 1868 and the beginning of World War I in 1914—an estimated 60 ‘’tree’’ vessels made the risky late-season journey from northern Michigan and Wisconsin. The fabled schooner Rouse Simmons. | PUBLIC DOMAIN IMAGES One such ship, the three-masted, 123-foot schooner Rouse Simmons, captained by veteran mariner Herman E. Schuenemann, became mythologized…

The Strange Legend of the Christmas Pickle
posted on Monday, Nov 27, 2017
The quirky but fanciful legend of the glass-blown German Christmas Pickle (Die Weihnachtsgurke) tree ornament has received some serious scrutiny about its mysterious origin the last few years from major media such as New York Times, Martha Stewart Living and Vancouver Sun. Supposedly a German tradition, journalists and researchers have looked for the clues as to the real story behind the Christmas Pickle. As the legend goes, the Christmas Pickle is an old German custom that started with parents hiding a pickle-shaped green ornament deep in the boughs of the…

Christmas wonderland in downtown Thunder Bay
posted on Monday, Oct 30, 2017
Thunder Bay—Right in the middle of Thunder Bay’s south downtown is the magical “Christmas on the Second Floor” at Victoria’s Cupboard, open to the public from mid-October to December 24. It’s an enchanted place filled with hundreds of delightful Christmas displays, 60 beautifully decorated trees and thousands of Christmas items for unique gifts and home décor. Victoria’s Cupboard, first established by Marjorie Knutson in 1990 as a small storefront, moved in 2001 to its present location, a 5,000-square-foot two-story heritage-designated building built in 1900 and originally home to the Fort…

The Mayflower’s Connection to Northern Wilds
posted on Friday, Oct 27, 2017
So, what does the famous Mayflower ship that landed in America almost 400 years ago (November 1620) have to do with people today in our Northern Wilds? Well, for starters, two people here at Northern Wilds (NW) Magazine are direct descendants of Mayflower passengers. Managing editor Breana Roy is the 14th and 13th great-granddaughter respectively of Stephen Hopkins (a kind of a swashbuckling adventurer of the 1600s) and his daughter Constance Hopkins. Glenn Warner, NW’s distributor in Thunder Bay, is the 10th and 9th great-grandson respectively of James Chilton (at…

Legendary Ladies
posted on Wednesday, Oct 25, 2017
Lakehead divas palled around with Greta Garbo and John Wayne During the Golden Age of Hollywood, from roughly the 1930s through the ‘50s, four women from the Lakehead achieved international fame. (The Lakehead is the name used collectively for Port Arthur and Fort William, now called Thunder Bay.) Two became Hollywood divas. One became part of Europe’s wealthy elite, socializing with the likes of Winston Churchill and Sir Laurence Olivier. Another was hailed as one of the world’s most beautiful women. Today their achievements, tragedies and glories are largely forgotten. Here…

The “Lighthouse of Doom” and the Long-Lived Cat
posted on Wednesday, Oct 25, 2017
Imagine looking out the window of a Lake Superior lighthouse and seeing a giant lake freighter on course to slam right into you. It is just one of the many lighthouse tales that have become part of the Lake Superior folklore. Lake Superior’s first lighthouses appeared in 1849 at Whitefish Point and Copper Harbour. It wasn’t until 1865—the same year Minnesota became a state—that the first lighthouse was built on Superior’s western shores at Minnesota Point. The lighthouse was nicknamed “Old Standby” and marked the entrance to the Superior-Duluth harbour.…

Shifting Time
posted on Wednesday, Oct 25, 2017
Thunder Bay was first in world to implement daylight-saving time More than one billion people in over 70 countries now observe daylight-saving time (DST) by re-setting their clocks to ‘’Spring Forward, Fall Back.” To get an extra hour of evening light, we put our clocks forward one hour in the spring and then we turn them back an hour in the fall. While Benjamin Franklin was the first to write about wasted daylight while in Paris France in 1784 (he proposed everyone rise earlier to make use of morning sunlight…

Lighthouse Tales of Lake Superior
posted on Friday, Sep 22, 2017
Lighthouses have been around for thousands of years, the world’s first documented one being the Pharos Lighthouse built in the third century B.C. on a small island in the harbor by Alexandria, Egypt. In the U.S., the first lighthouse was the Boston Light, built in 1716 in Boston Harbor, Massachusetts. In Canada, it was the Louisbourg Light built in 1732 in Louisbourg, Nova Scotia. On Lake Superior, the first lighthouse to be lit was Whitefish Point Light in 1849, while Ontario’s first was St. Ignace Light on Talbot Island, lit…

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…