The Thunder Bay Inn, a once popular Big Bay tourist retreat and a locals' favorite, has closed its doors.
Built in 1910, the Inn has seen many changes. Originally built as a warehouse, it later became a vacation home to Henry Ford and then made its presence known in the film "Anatomy of a Murder" starring Jimmy Stewart and Lee Remick. But most recently, it's a victim to today's tough economic conditions.
"It was a shock," says business owner Jack Bourgeois. "Just like that, it closed and nobody knew it."
Thunder Bay Inn was a hotel, pub, and restaurant and was thought to be a thriving business, but like others in the area, the past few years have been rough.
"Last year, the convenience store closed down across the street," says Bourgeois, "and now the Thunder Bay Inn is closing down. It's going to be bad for the community."
Jack Bourgeois is the owner of Lumberjacks Tavern, and he says for the past three years, his business has slowly decreased. He fears now that without the Inn, even fewer people will be traveling up to Big Bay.
According to community members, Thunder Bay Inn was serving patrons up until this past Saturday; then on Sunday, the owners broke the news to their 14 employees that they were closing.
The owners refused to comment on why they closed; however, the sign on the window basically explains it all: that due to economic conditions out of their control, Thunder Bay Inn was forced to close its doors.
"Big Bay is really going to miss this Thunder Bay Inn," said Joe Cram, owner of Cram's General Store.
"A lot of people that live up here depend on the small businesses that are in Big Bay," said local resident Christine Savard.
Residents hope that someone will soon take over the historic building. They see the Thunder Bay Inn as a community landmark, a point of pride. If it fails, some residents worry about the future of the entire town of Big Bay.