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Thunder Bay

Event information

Digital Doors Open Thunder Bay

One city. Fifty years. Explore some of our city’s most unique structures and heritage sites as we celebrate the amalgamation of Fort William and Port Arthur 50 years ago, which resulted in the formation of the City of Thunder Bay. Learn about our history, culture and community initiatives through images and videos that will engage people of all ages.

Just how did Thunder Bay get its name?

Experience Thunder Bay through the lens of local cinematographer Damien Gilbert from Epica Pictures.

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for up-to-date details and information.

Thank you to our supporting partners and event sponsors:

Thunder Bay's supporting partners and event sponsors

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Courthouse Hotel Doors Open Thunder Bay

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Courthouse Hotel

The original courthouse and jail serving Prince Arthur’s Landing, later Port Arthur, was built on this site in 1877. Built on the same site in 1923, the new Port Arthur District Courthouse could not be fully completed until a portion of the old jail was demolished. Once opened in 1924, the courthouse housed judicial officials for the District of Thunder Bay along with Port Arthur’s Ontario Government offices. Symmetrical in its design, the classical pediment, Corinthian columns and central entryway give the building its “official” look. Tyndall Stone® limestone from Manitoba – used for the building’s decorative elements, including columns, keystones, sills and window casements – contains visible fossils. The Superior Court of Justice relocated to the Thunder Bay Consolidated Courthouse on Miles Street in 2014. The building, purchased in 2016, began an extensive $5-million renovation in 2017, transforming it into the boutique hotel we see today. Opened in 2019, the Courthouse Hotel was a recipient of the Lieutenant Governor's Ontario Heritage Award for Excellence in Conservation.

Tell us your story about this site

  • Digital Doors Open
  • Video
  • Site is protected by the Ontario Heritage Trust

Contact info

277 Camelot Street
Thunder Bay, Ontario
www.courthousehotel.ca

Architecture

Year built: 1923-24
Architect: Frank R. Heakes, Department of Public Works
Architectural style: Classical revival
Building type: Commercial

Dates/hours open

Friday May 1 – Thursday December 31, 2020
Part of Digital Doors Open Thunder Bay

Fort William National Historic Site Doors Open Thunder Bay

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Fort William National Historic Site

Discover the original location of the fur-trading post lying at the heart of Thunder Bay and the mouth of the Kaministiquia River. This location saw First Nations camps, fur-trade boom and bust, the rise of the railway and growth of today’s neighbourhood. Fort William was the inland headquarters of the North West Company, the largest fur-trading enterprise in the world. At its peak in 1816, it was the hinge of an empire. Once the North West Company and the Hudson’s Bay Company merged in 1821, Fort William became a smaller regional trading post; most of its buildings were demolished by the 1880s to make way for the Canadian Pacific railyards. Archaeological excavations have unearthed artifacts from the fur trade and make it possible to overlay the 1816 fort plan on modern-day maps. As birchbark canoes were replaced by locomotives, vibrant and ethnically diverse east-end neighbourhoods sprang up around the fort. Many of the residents worked for the railways, grain elevators and coal-handling facilities. In 1968, Parks Canada recognized the original location of the Fort William fur trading post as a National Historic Site. The plaque commemorating it is part of the Heritage Hide’n’Seek Geocaching Series. The Province of Ontario built a reconstruction of old Fort William as a tourist attraction, which opened to the public in 1973 at Point De Meuron, nine miles up the Kaministiquia River.

Tell us your story about this site

  • Digital Doors Open
  • Video
  • Collections and resources
  • Kid-friendly
  • National Historic Site (Canada)

Contact info

500 McNaughton Street
Thunder Bay, Ontario
www.pc.gc.ca/apps/dfhd/page_nhs_eng.aspx?id=526&i=64413

Architecture

Year built: 1803 (North West Company); 1916 (memorial tablet erected)
Architect: North West Company
Building type: Historical landmark

Dates/hours open

Friday May 1 – Thursday December 31, 2020
Part of Digital Doors Open Thunder Bay

Harry Kirk Archives and Records Centre Doors Open Thunder Bay

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Harry Kirk Archives and Records Centre

This two-storey concrete block building was constructed for Fort William Hydro in 1958. Acquired by the City of Thunder Bay in 1970, it housed a variety of departments until 1988 when the Office of the City Clerk took sole possession of the building. Harry Kirk – the City Clerk at the time – believed that the identification and protection of permanent archival records should be seamlessly integrated with the management of all municipal records. This vision has made the Thunder Bay’s Archives and Records program a model of civic transparency and corporate memory preservation. Through extensive renovations completed in 1991, the facility provides secure storage for historical artifacts and archival records, as well as a warehouse for active records, staff offices and a public reference room. The collections include the corporate municipal records of Port Arthur, Fort William and Thunder Bay, housing more than 2 kilometers of records, 17,000 photographs, 4,000 maps and plans, and 1,000 artifacts – with more to come. A sampling of the collection can be viewed through the Thunder Bay Archives Flickr page and a variety of web exhibits. The newest exhibit features items from the City of Thunder Bay’s 50th Anniversary time capsule, which was opened on January 1, 2020 by the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.

Tell us your story about this site

  • Digital Doors Open
  • Video
  • Collections and resources

Contact info

235 Vickers Street North
Thunder Bay, Ontario
www.thunderbay.ca/archives

Architecture

Year built: 1958
Architect: L.Y. McIntosh & Associates
Building type: Government building

Dates/hours open

Friday May 1 – Thursday December 31, 2020
Part of Digital Doors Open Thunder Bay

Mary J.L. Black Community Hub, Thunder Bay Public Library Doors Open Thunder Bay

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Mary J.L. Black Community Hub, Thunder Bay Public Library

Named in honour of Fort William's first permanent librarian, Mary J.L. Black, this $4-million modern facility was designed as a comfortable welcoming space for the community. Opened in 2011, the Mary J.L. Black Community Hub replaced the original Mary J.L. Black Library that was constructed in 1938 on nearby Brock Street. The bright, naturally lit entryway perfectly highlights an impressive 6.5-square-metre (70-square-foot) mosaic that was relocated from the original library. Tiled by Ruby Owen, this 27,000-piece mosaic was unveiled in 1965. The mosaic is based on the work entitled “The Indian that Became a Thunderbird,” by Ojibwe artist Norval Morriseau. Beyond the traditional resources of a library, this community hub aims to provide access to multiple services and specialized programming. During normal operations, be sure to check out Northern Nature Trading – an interactive program developed by Science North that is open to all ages, which encourages the discovery of nature.

Tell us your story about this site

  • Digital Doors Open
  • Video
  • Collections and resources
  • Kid-friendly

Contact info

901 Edward Street South
Thunder Bay, Ontario
www.tbpl.ca

Architecture

Year built: 2010-11
Architect: John Knox, Chamberlain Architect Services
Architectural style: Contemporary
Building type: Library

Dates/hours open

Friday May 1 – Thursday December 31, 2020
Part of Digital Doors Open Thunder Bay

Masonic Hall, Shuniah Lodge No. 287 Doors Open Thunder Bay

Masonic Hall, Shuniah Lodge No. 287

Free masons – from the oldest and largest worldwide fraternity – casually met in the Thunder Bay area at a bunkhouse at the Shuniah Mine prior to the Lodge’s first official meeting on September 7, 1872. In 1887, the Masons bought the former Port Arthur Town Hall building where they operated until fire destroyed it in 1907. The current Lodge – part of the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario – was built in 1909-10 and designed by architect Marshall B. Aylesworth. It was constructed for commercial purposes at street level while the upper floors were to house Lodge facilities. Local Nipigon quarries supplied the marble for the entrance and the staircase to the second floor. On the staircase landing is a First World War memorial to fallen Lodge members. The second floor houses the impressive Lodge Hall, with its 5.8-metre (19-foot) vaulted ceiling and Ionic pilasters. The vaulted ceilings continue into the banquet hall, where portraits of past Masters are displayed. The Lodge’s social rooms are located on the third floor, one of which contains a 100-year-old antique pool table.

Tell us your story about this site

  • Digital Doors Open
  • Video
  • Collections and resources
  • Kid-friendly

Contact info

270 Red River Road
Thunder Bay, Ontario
www.grandlodge.on.ca

Architecture

Year built: 1910
Architect: Marshall B. Aylsworth
Architectural style: Neoclassical
Building type: Commercial

Dates/hours open

Friday May 1 – Thursday December 31, 2020
Part of Digital Doors Open Thunder Bay

Open Mind Interiors (formerly the Mary J.L. Black Library) Doors Open Thunder Bay

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Open Mind Interiors (formerly the Mary J.L. Black Library)

Built as the Mary J.L. Black Library, this 1938 structure and its 1962 addition served the Westfort community as its first dedicated public library building until 2011. Now home to Open Mind Interiors, who specialize in creating innovative workspaces, this is an excellent example of a building’s adaptive re-use. Explore the showroom of this newly re-imagined building, which has intentionally kept a mix of old and new. Some of the original features retained include terrazzo floors and deco handrails, while new windows across the front allow natural light to pour into the workspace. While appreciating the transformation that has taken place, many will be reminded of the times spent visiting the library; attending a play or puppet show.

Tell us your story about this site

  • Digital Doors Open
  • Video
  • Collections and resources

Contact info

151 Brock Street West
Thunder Bay, Ontario
http://openmindinteriors.com

Architecture

Year built: 1938 (1962 addition)
Architect: H.M. Scott (1938), Ranta & Tett Architects (1962 addition)
Architectural style: Art deco
Building type: Commercial

Dates/hours open

Friday May 1 – Thursday December 31, 2020
Part of Digital Doors Open Thunder Bay

Saint Joseph's Indian Residential School Memorial Doors Open Thunder Bay

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Saint Joseph's Indian Residential School Memorial

Surrounded by gardens, a large granite memorial stone sits atop a medicine wheel. The affixed plaque shares the message of the Saint Joseph’s Indian Residential School, once located alongside this site. Unveiled on June 5, 2019 (in partnership with and Nishnawbe Aski Nation and the City of Thunder Bay Aboriginal Liaison Office, with representatives of Fort William First Nation, the Thunder Bay Indigenous Friendship Centre and the Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board), this memorial serves to honour the survivors and to remember the children who didn’t go home. It is also a means to educate the community about residential schools. During the unveiling ceremony, educator and Order of Ontario appointee Dolores Wawia – a former Saint Joseph's student – shared her experiences while at the residential school. Residential schools operated for over 150 years throughout Canada. By removing children from the influence of their own culture, this means of assimilation by the Canadian government and churches has left behind a legacy of damage that is still felt today. Listen to Senator Murray Sinclair as he discusses the Residential School system and Reconciliation.

Tell us your story about this site

  • Digital Doors Open
  • Video
  • Kid-friendly

Contact info

Arthur Street near Franklin Street
Thunder Bay , Ontario

Architecture

Year built: 2019
Building type: Historical landmark
Landscape: Garden

Dates/hours open

Friday May 1 – Thursday December 31, 2020
Part of Digital Doors Open Thunder Bay

Self-Guided Walking Tours Doors Open Thunder Bay

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Self-Guided Walking Tours

Set out on your own self-guided adventure – following safe social distancing practices –and explore the streets of Thunder Bay through one of these historical walking tours. Or you can take the tours digitally by exploring the PDF links below. These tours highlight Thunder Bay's rich heritage and architecture, while enabling you to enjoy a scenic walk through the city. A total of 117 sites are featured on five different tours located in different parts of the city. Each tour can be completed in approximately one hour. Note: Many sites on these tours are private residences, so we ask that you please respect private property and view all homes from the sidewalk only. Tours include Thunder Bay North Core Waterfront, Waverley Park Neighbourhood, McVicar Creek Harrington Neighbourhood, Thunder Bay South Core and Vickers Park Neighbourhood.

Tell us your story about this site

  • Digital Doors Open
  • Activities and games
  • Kid-friendly

Architecture

Year built: Various
Architect: Various

Dates/hours open

Friday May 1 – Thursday December 31, 2020
Part of Digital Doors Open Thunder Bay

Sleeping Giant Brewing Company Doors Open Thunder Bay

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Sleeping Giant Brewing Company

Since 2012, the Sleeping Giant Brewing Company has been crafting beers inspired by Lake Superior and the northern wildness. Sourcing water from Lake Superior and grain locally malted at Canada Malting, Sleeping Giant Beer ingredients deliver a truly local brew. Just ask the “New Guy In Town”. Operating out of a light industrial building in the intercity area, the Sleeping Giant Brewing Company’s facility provides more than just a place to design, brew, package and ship its beer. Stop by to sample one of their brews at the popular Brewer Lounge taproom and mezzanine (check their website for hours). Don’t forget to visit their shop, which showcases its products and other local offerings. There’s grab ‘n’ go service, curbside pickup or even free next-day delivery (full delivery details on their website). And as the City of Thunder Bay celebrates “One City. Fifty Years,” the Sleeping Giant Brewing Company has released a specialty brew for the occasion – One City Pilsner. Cheers!

Tell us your story about this site

  • Digital Doors Open
  • Video

Contact info

712 Macdonell Street
Thunder Bay, Ontario
www.sleepinggiantbrewing.ca

Architecture

Year built: Established in 2012
Architectural style: Contemporary
Building type: Commercial, Food and drink

Dates/hours open

Friday May 1 – Thursday December 31, 2020
Part of Digital Doors Open Thunder Bay

Sleeping Giant Provincial Park Doors Open Thunder Bay

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Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

Sleeping Giant Provincial Park near Thunder Bay is a massive lakeside park that offers year-round recreation, campgrounds and breathtaking views. While the park is partially open, with safety and social distancing restrictions in place, you may want to consider a more digital approach to exploring its grandeur. The park offers over 100 km (62 miles) of incredible hiking and mountain-biking trails, excellent wildlife viewing opportunities, full-service cabins and rugged campsites, swimming and canoeing, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, and exhibits on natural and cultural history at the Visitor Centre. As part of Digital Doors Open, experience the climb up the Sleeping Giant with Jazzy and his friends, check out the Flickr album for year-round images of this beautiful park, and watch the video below for some truly spectacular aerial footage.

Tell us your story about this site

  • Digital Doors Open
  • Video
  • Collections and resources
  • Self-guided tours available

Architecture

Landscape: Landscape, Natural heritage, Park, Trail

Dates/hours open

Friday May 1 – Thursday December 31, 2020
Part of Digital Doors Open Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay City Hall Doors Open Thunder Bay

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Thunder Bay City Hall

One City. Fifty Years. In 2020, the City of Thunder Bay celebrates its 50th anniversary. A lot has happened to get the city to where it is today. As early as 1910, official discussions had occurred around amalgamating the neighbouring cities. The History of Amalgamation exhibit takes a look back at how Thunder Bay came to be. In addition, the City Halls of Thunder Bay web exhibit explores numerous buildings that have served as town and city halls to both Fort William and Port Arthur. The 1966 municipal building shown here was the third to serve the community of Fort William. Built just four years prior to amalgamation, Fort William City Hall became Thunder Bay City Hall when the new city was formed in 1970. Explore the Civic Timeline, which features municipal milestones since amalgamation. And a major reconstruction of the City Hall, completed in 2009, not only modernized the facility, but also uncovered an exciting discovery – time capsules!

Tell us your story about this site

  • Digital Doors Open
  • Video
  • Collections and resources

Contact info

500 Donald Street East
Thunder Bay, Ontario
www.thunderbay.ca

Architecture

Year built: 1966
Architect: L.Y. McIntosh & Associates
Architectural style: Contemporary
Building type: Government building

Dates/hours open

Friday May 1 – Thursday December 31, 2020
Part of Digital Doors Open Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay Museum Doors Open Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay Museum

Opened in 1912, this building was constructed as both a courthouse and a station for Fort William’s growing police force. Heralded as “the finest on the continent” for a small city, the building featured the Lakehead’s first automatic elevator. Designed by Robert E. Mason in the Edwardian classical style, the central entrance is dominated by unfluted Corinthian columns, crowned by carved acanthus leaves and small volutes, and pilasters. Milton brick covers a steel-and-concrete frame with limestone cladding on the ground floor and as trim. The wide, curving stone stairs leading to the recessed portico symbolizes the building’s original purpose. When Fort William and Port Arthur amalgamated in 1970, so did their two police forces. The then-newly formed Thunder Bay Police Force was headquartered here until 1987. In 1995, the building became home to the Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society, which operates the Thunder Bay Museum. The museum opened its major exhibit gallery here in 1997 before later constructing the glassed-in exhibition space to display some of its larger artifacts. Exhibit galleries on the main, second and third floors can be explored online. You can also experience the museum through its virtual exhibits and 360 virtual tour. Or take a behind-the-scenes tour with Executive Director Scott Bradley and Curator Michael deJong.

Tell us your story about this site

  • Digital Doors Open
  • Virtual tour
  • Video
  • Collections and resources
  • Kid-friendly

Contact info

425 Donald Street East
Thunder Bay, Ontario
Telephone: 807-623-0801
www.thunderbaymuseum.com

Architecture

Year built: 1910-12
Architect: Robert E. Mason
Architectural style: Edwardian
Building type: Museum

Dates/hours open

Friday May 1 – Thursday December 31, 2020
Part of Digital Doors Open Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay Tourist Pagoda Doors Open Thunder Bay

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Thunder Bay Tourist Pagoda

Welcome to Canada’s oldest continuously operating tourist information bureau! Many communities participated in the trend of civic boosterism in the early 1900s, promoting their town to tourists and businesses, though few constructed purpose-built structures such as the Pagoda. In 1908, a design competition was organized by the Industrial Commission asking for submissions that were “striking in nature” that would attract people’s attention. Based on the winning design by local architect Harry Russell Halton, the Pagoda was constructed in 1909 to demonstrate Port Arthur’s merits as a social, business and economic hub. The octagonal pagoda is an eclectic design, combining eastern and western styles to symbolize Port Arthur itself, where the east of Canada meets the west. Many Thunder Bay locals have fond memories of the polka dots painted on the roof of the Pagoda, done as a surprise by the Port Arthur Jaycees (Junior Chamber of Commerce) in 1961 to kick off Visitor’s Week (polka dots decorated the roof into the 1980s). Owned by the City of Thunder Bay and operated by Tourism Thunder Bay, the Pagoda is a designated heritage property and a National Historic Site. The Ontario Heritage Trust holds a conservation easement on the property.

Tell us your story about this site

  • Digital Doors Open
  • Video
  • Collections and resources
  • National Historic Site (Canada)
  • Site is protected by the Ontario Heritage Trust

Contact info

170 Red River Road
Thunder Bay, Ontario
www.visitthunderbay.com

Architecture

Year built: 1909
Architect: H. Russell Halton
Architectural style: Octagon
Building type: Historical landmark

Dates/hours open

Friday May 1 – Thursday December 31, 2020
Part of Digital Doors Open Thunder Bay