Doors Open Ontario

Thunder Bay Tourist Pagoda Doors Open Thunder Bay


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


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

Dates/hours open

Friday May 1 – Wednesday March 31, 2021
Part of Digital Doors Open Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay Tourist Pagoda 170 Red River Road