Is Thunder Bay Safe? Crime Rates & Safety Report

Updated On November 20, 2023
Thunder Bay, Canada
Safety Index:
* Based on Research & Crime Data

Thunder Bay is a great place to visit.

It’s one of Canada’s largest “outdoor cities”, with nearly 200,000 square miles of wilderness.

There’s also lots to enjoy in the city, including museums, five-star cuisine, and cultural events.

Before you book your trip, it’s important to know if Thunder Bay is safe.

Thunder Bay is essentially two smaller cities known as Fort William and Port Arthur.

These were once separate twin cities.

Eventually, they were combined into Thunder Bay.

The city is located on the Northern shoreline of Lake Superior.

The city is named after Lake Superior’s bay, which was known as Thunder Bay.

Warnings & Dangers in Thunder Bay

Overall Risk


There are some concerns about traveling to Thunder Bay. The biggest concern is the high crime rate, particularly violent crime. The overall crime rate is 40% higher than Ontario, and 5% higher than Canada's rate. Thunder Bay has 72% more violent crime than Ontario, and 35% more than Canada.The other major concern is natural disasters. Winter weather, including severe snow storms and prolonged power outages, are very common. Travelers who aren't used to this weather are at a higher risk than local residents who are accustomed to the weather.

Transport & Taxis Risk


To see how safe getting a taxi is in Thunder Bay, we can take a look at a report from The Injury Prevention team of the Thunder Bay District Health Unit. The report revealed that 68% of people surveyed either had a tough time getting a safe ride home or knew someone who had this issue.Most of the issues occur because there aren't enough transportation options, particularly late at night. Buses stop running at 1 a.m., and there are only two cab companies in the area.Wait times were a big concern, which left travelers waiting for long periods of time in risky areas, including nightclub parking lots. In addition to crime fears, some people mentioned the risk of frostbite in the winter months while waiting for a cab or bus.

Pickpockets Risk


Theft overall is a concern in Thunder Bay, but only slightly higher than the average for Canada. There is a risk of theft, but pickpocketing isn't a common concern in the area.

Natural Disasters Risk


Thunder Bay does have a high risk of natural disasters. Residents are usually prepared for these problems, but as a traveler, they can catch you off guard. Winter storms are the most common issue, with 93% of residents expecting them each year. Ironically, forest fires are the next concern, with 80% of residents worrying about them. 74% of residents fear extended power outages that last for more than 24 hours.

Mugging Risk


The risk of mugging in Thunder Bay is medium. Theft and violent crimes are concerns in the city, which means there's some risk of mugging. In 2022, two students experienced a failed mugging at a bus stop. The mugger asked for their wallets. They refused, and the would-be mugger simply left. This scenario had a happy ending, but others do not.

Terrorism Risk


The risk of terrorism in Thunder Bay is low. This includes both domestic and foreign terrorism.

Scams Risk


There are a few scams you should look out for in Thunder Bay. Online scams involve sellers in local classified ads. The seller asks for a down payment and then disappears. Phone scams involving local phone numbers are also on the rise. This is unlikely to affect you if you are traveling to Thunder Bay, but it's important to be aware of the issue.

Women Travelers Risk


Thunder Bay has a much higher rate of violent crime than other areas of Ontario and Canada, and a higher rate of violence against women. In 2018, Thunder Bay had 1,545 incidents of violent crime per 100,000 residents. The rate for Ontario was only 899, making Thunder Bay's rate 72% higher than Ontario's. The rate for Canada was 1,143, which means Thunder Bay has 35% more violent crime than Canada.In all three areas, women were victims of more than half of all violent crimes. In 2022, Thunder Bay police received 2,300 reports of intimate partner violence and sexual assault. This resulted in 703 charges involving 267 people. This is one of the highest per capita rates in Canada. The problem is so prominent that anti-violence groups are pushing for the government to declare gender-based violence a pandemic to draw more attention to the issue.

Tap Water Risk


The tap water in Thunder Bay is very good. The water comes from Lake Superior. The water treatment plant is Level 4, which is the best grade for water treatment facilities. In short, residents say Thunder Bay has some of the cleanest water in Canada, and possibly the world.

Safest Places to Visit in Thunder Bay

Like any city, some areas of Thunder Bay are considered safer than others.

River Terrace is known as a great neighborhood.

Mariday Park, Grandview, Parkdale, and Westfort are also safe areas.

Generally, you should keep an eye out for areas with upscale houses nearby.

These areas tend to be the safest.

Lower-income neighborhoods will have a higher risk of crime.

While you are there, you’ll want to visit Fort William Historical Park.

Thunder Bay is well known for its natural beauty, so there are plenty of natural attractions to see.

Hillcrest Park, Mount McKay, and Sleeping Giant Provincial Park are excellent areas to check out.

Places to Avoid in Thunder Bay

There are some areas that you should avoid when visiting Thunder Bay.

If you do choose to go to these areas, use extra caution.

Rough neighborhoods in Thunder Bay are still safer than many U.S. cities, but they do have higher crime rates than other areas of the city.

The area around the casino is considered risky and tends to draw unsavory people.

Simpson Street, the south end of May Street, and Limbrick are also rough areas.

Use caution if you are near the rivers, or taking the Waterfront Marina Park Pedestrian Overpass.

You’ll want to avoid the East End of Northwood as well.

Safety Tips for Traveling to Thunder Bay

  1. Be Aware of Surroundings. Our first tip is to be aware of your surroundings. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new place and forget to use caution. Look out for any suspicious people or behavior. Criminals generally choose easy targets. If you seem aware, you are less likely to be a victim of crime.
  2. Prepare for the Weather. The weather in Thunder Bay can be brutal, particularly in the wintertime. Pack proper clothing, and follow the advice for the climate. For example, keep candles, blankets, and snacks in your vehicle when traveling in the winter.
  3. Travel as Part of a Group. Being alone makes you more likely to be a target.  If you are traveling with friends or family, you should go out in groups. If you are solo, be sure that you stay in areas where there are people.
  4. Know the Wildlife. Thunder Bay is home to bears, moose, and other dangerous wildlife. Before you head out into the wilderness, know how to keep yourself safe if you encounter these animals. You should also speak with locals about which areas you should avoid and anything you should be aware of before heading out.
  5. Enroll in STEP. If you live in the U.S., you should enroll in STEP, or Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, before your trip. You’ll register with the nearest U.S. Embassy. You’ll receive alerts about any natural disasters, unrest, and even family emergencies. This also makes it possible for the Embassy to find you in an emergency. The service is free, so there’s no reason not to take advantage of it.
  6. Avoid Closed Trails. If you decide to go on an outdoor adventure, avoid any closed trails. These trails are often at a high risk of avalanches, which can be fatal.
  7. Monitor Wildfires. Wildfires are a real risk in Thunder Bay. You can stay up to date on wildfires and wildfire risk by visiting the Provincial and Territorial wildfire information website. You can also download the Alertable app from Google Play or the App Store.
  8. Keep Personal Information Private. You can reduce your risk of scams and identity theft by guarding your personal information. If someone claims to be an official and requests your personal info, ask to see their credentials before providing it.
  9. Guard Your Belongings. Theft is an issue in Thunder Bay. Don’t leave valuables in your car, particularly not where they can be easily seen. You should also be careful about leaving these items unattended in your hotel room. Keep your purse or wallet with you at all times.
  10. Stay in Touch With Loved Ones. It’s a great idea to let someone know where you are at all times. You may choose a GPS monitoring app, or simply call or text someone with your location. This is particularly important if you are alone.

So... How Safe Is Thunder Bay Really?

How safe you consider Thunder Bay will vary based on your reference point.

Compared to Ontario and Canada, Thunder Bay’s crime rate is high.

The violent crime rate per 1,000 residents is 1,545, compared to just 899 in Ontario.

However, the average crime rate for the U.S. is 43% higher than in Canada, and many U.S. cities have much higher crime rates than Thunder Bay.

Much of the crime in the city is drug-related.

Thunder Bay has the highest opioid mortality rate in Ontario, with 77 deaths per 100,000 residents.

Ontario’s average is just 17.

Some residents of Thunder Bay say that the city is safe for tourists and that the vast majority of crime occurs between residents who know each other.

To sum it up, Thunder Bay is not very safe by Canada’s standards, but it is safe by U.S. standards.

How Does Thunder Bay Compare?

CitySafety Index
Thunder Bay65
Niagara Falls87
Quebec City85
Hong Kong (China)70
Buenos Aires (Argentina)60
Tianjin (China)67
Cordoba (Argentina)61
Shanghai (China)66
Melbourne (Australia)80

Useful Information



You can get a visa online. However, if you are a U.S. citizen, you can provide a copy of your birth certificate and a photo ID instead of a visa if you plan on visiting for less than 180 days. If you are a U.S. resident but not a citizen, you can use your green card.



Canada uses the Canadian dollar. Many businesses, especially hotels and tourist attractions, may accept U.S. dollars. However, you may get an unfavorable exchange rate.One way to exchange your currency is with a travel debit card. You can withdraw funds from an ATM in Canada, which will be Canadian dollars.You can also exchange U.S. dollars for Canadian currency at banks, post offices, and American Express locations.



Summers in Thunder Bay are warm, with temperatures typically in the low 70s, and a few days rising above 75. The hottest days are rarely above 83 degrees. While summers in Thunder Bay are relatively mild, winters are not. It's common to see lows of 0 degrees. It's rarely colder than 19 below zero, which is extremely cold. It's also partly cloudy year-round with plenty of rainfall.



The main airport in Thunder Bay is Thunder Bay International Airport. It's the fourth busiest airport in Ontario.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance typically covers several potential travel hazards. Canada specifically recommends that travelers purchase travel health insurance before their trip because your insurance policy is unlikely to cover you outside the country.Travel insurance can also cover delays and cancelations. This allows you to get nonrefundable deposits back, minus your deductible. Many plans also cover lost luggage.

Click here to get an offer for travel insurance

Thunder Bay Weather Averages (Temperatures)

Jan -15° C
Feb -12° C
Mar -5° C
Apr 3° C
May 9° C
Jun 14° C
Jul 18° C
Aug 17° C
Sep 12° C
Oct 6° C
Nov -2° C
Dec -11° C
Choose Temperature Unit

Average High/Low Temperature

Temperature / MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec

Canada - Safety by City

CitySafety Index
Niagara Falls87
Quebec City85
Red Deer32
Thunder Bay65

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