Northern Wilds Magazine
Strange Tales columnist Elle Andra-Warner has been with Northern Wilds since it began. | GLENN WARNER
Along the Shore

Two decades of Strange Tales: Celebrating Northern Wilds writer Elle Andra-Warner

For two decades, readers have flipped through the pages of Northern Wilds to uncover the intriguing world of northeastern Minnesota and Thunder Bay, through the curious eyes of writer Elle Andra-Warner and her Strange Tales column.

With approximately 240 published column articles, Andra-Warner has taken readers on an explorative journey, unveiling the untold and overlooked peculiarities of the people, lifestyle, and landscape along the North Shore of Lake Superior. Her stories have ranged from the first female mayors to underwater archaeology, unique family traditions, Lake Superior UFO enigmas, and even intriguing pets (moose and beavers) and their owners. More recently, she has delved into the life of Dorothy Arnold, the Duluth-based Hollywood actress and first wife of New York Yankees baseball star Joe DiMaggio.

“I have never struggled to find topics for the column because there are so many interesting stories out there,” Andra-Warner said.

Her fascination with interesting stories derives from her 30 years of experience as an award-winning travel journalist, columnist, and best-selling author in Thunder Bay. In addition to being a columnist for Northern Wilds, Andra-Warner is a published writer for various publications, including National Geographic, Lake Superior Magazine, Thunder Bay Seniors, Above & Beyond, and Up Here.

“When you’re a travel journalist, you’re looking for interesting things to take your readers on the journey,” Andra-Warner said. “You’re looking for quirky things.”

Andra-Warner’s journey with Northern Wilds began in the early 2000s, long before the creation of the iPhone. It started with a phone call from the late Shawn Perich, the former co-owner of Northern Wilds. After some discussion, she agreed to join the team as a writer. Little did she know, this decision would lead to a lasting friendship with Perich and a two-decade-long tenure as a contributor for Northern Wilds, including the creation of the Strange Tales column.

“That’s how it started with me 20 years ago,” Andra-Warner said. The Strange Tales column wasn’t officially created until a few months later, and she began submitting interesting and quirky stories that left the readers and the Northern Wilds editing staff saying, “That’s interesting. I didn’t know that.”

Twenty years later, she has continued to intrigue readers and the staff of Northern Wilds with her fascinating stories of Lake Superior’s North Shore. Since beginning at the magazine, she has remained a steadfast and valuable asset to the Northern Wilds team by entertaining readers and instilling a sense of curiosity about the unknown history, culture, and landmarks along the North Shore.

Elle’s husband, Glenn Warner, and their friend, Dave Van Wagoner (far right), help distribute the monthly magazine in Thunder Bay. | ELLE ANDRA-WARNER

In addition to keeping readers entertained each month, Andra-Warner and her husband, Glenn Warner, have helped to distribute the Northern Wilds magazine to various vendors in Thunder Bay for the past eight years. More recently, a close friend, Dave Van Wagoner, has stepped in to help Glenn Warner distribute.

She said Wagoner and her husband frequently encounter eager readers waiting at the stands for the magazine to be delivered. “Because people just love it so much.”

She attributes the success of the Northern Wilds magazine to the quality and diversity of stories, the style of writing, and the visual appearance and layout. “The writing is professional, the imagery, the photographs, and the design is nice,” she said. Another significant key to the magazine’s success throughout the past 20 years, Andra-Warner said, is the continuity of staff, particularly the current and founding co-owner Amber Graham, Editor Breana Johnson, and, for the better part of the two decades, Perich.

“It’s been a really big part of my writing for Northern Wilds,” she said.

In the early days, when Perich drove to Thunder Bay to distribute the magazine, he frequently stopped at their house for dinner. On one occasion, the Northern Wilds staff traveled across the border to take a tour with the Warner’s of the Alexander Henry Museum Ship. The historic Lake Superior ship, built in 1958 and commissioned as an icebreaker the following year, made an appearance in Andra-Warner’s October 2018 Strange Tales column.

From time to time, Andra-Warner fills in writing Along the Shore articles and feature stories for the various monthly Northern Wilds issues. But, her main passion is finding interesting tidbits from historical stories or topics that will fascinate the reader. She credits Perich and Graham for allowing her the flexibility to pick her topics each month and to continue writing about the things that intrigue her along the North Shore.

Make sure to flip the page and find out what quirky story Andra-Warner has explored in this month’s Strange Tales column.

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