With the city of Thunder Bay just 35 km away by well-maintained highways, Gillies Township is a convenient bedroom community for people who want to work in Thunder Bay but live in a country setting.
Gillies Township is characterized by a patchwork of agricultural lands and boreal forests that are home to a variety of local wildlife. The Whitefish River flows through the township, along with an amazing number of small creeks and lakes. This clean, natural environment feels far removed from the hustle and bustle of the nearby city.
Gillies Township is known for its affordable housing, larger than average lot sizes – measured in acres, not square feet - and low property taxes. For some residents, this means that a lower percentage of their household income is devoted to housing costs, freeing up extra income for lifestyle purchases, travel and retirement. For others, it provides the opportunity to work less hours, allowing more time for family life. For all residents, it means a safe place to call home and live well.
Gillies Township is also one of the keystones of the Northwestern Ontario local foods movement. Many of the area farms offer farm-gate sales of fresh produce and meats; providing residents the opportunity to see their food grown by friends and neighbours they can trust. Ethically-raised beef, lamb, chicken and eggs are widely available and a Farmer’s Market operates out of the Community Centre throughout the growing season.
Newcomers to Gillies Township will be invited into a welcoming and active community. The Gillies Township Welcoming Committee, a revolving group of friendly volunteers, greet newcomers with useful local information, an initial welcome visit and an open invitation to the next community event at the Gillies Community Centre. However, unlike many small communities, we do respect and safeguard every family’s privacy. As rural residents, the people of Gillies Township understand that the area attracts individuals looking for a quiet retreat and will tread carefully to avoid imposing upon new neighbours.
This far from the big city means that crime is virtually nonexistent. In 2009, the police responded to only nine calls in the Gillies Township area. We are truly a place where parents can let their children play freely without worrying about dangerous strangers.
Traffic tends to be limited to locals and the occasional hauling vehicle on the main roads of the Township. Bicyclists and horseback riders make good and safe use of the roadways, which are well-maintained all year round.
Supplementary emergency services in the community are provided by Gillies Emergency Services, a volunteer-run organization which covers first-response fire and emergency medical services.
Elementary School – Gillies Township is home to Whitefish Valley School, which serves area students from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 8 and has an enrolment of approximately 180 students. Whitefish Valley is a member of the Lakehead District School Board.
Busing to Thunder Bay High Schools – Students of Whitefish Valley generally attend Westgate Collegiate in Thunder Bay for high school, which is approximately 35 minutes away. Bus service in most areas is to the end of the child’s driveway.
Child Care – after-school child care is available at Whitefish Valley School, provided by Little Lions Waldorf Day Care. In addition, the Rural Best Start Hub operates a Monday drop-in play group for preschool-aged children.
Postal Outlet – a full-service postal outlet is available in the township.
Telecommunications – Tbaytel and Bell Telephone provide land-line access throughout the township. High-speed Internet access is available in most locations through these service providers, and Tbaytel provides excellent cell service throughout the area.
Business Association – the Gillies and Area Business Association is an active network of business owners committed to mutual promotion, information sharing and lobbying at all levels of government. New business startups are welcome to contact the GAABA for assistance and a warm welcome.
Gillies Township is home to a store, a gas station and within quick access to a Laundromat and several restaurants. The nearby village of Kakabeka Falls offers a grocery store, car wash and banking services, making it possible to perform day-to-day activities within a half-hour drive of one’s home.