Thunder Bay, Ontario – Part 1 – Port Arthur – My Top 12 Picks

Thunder Bay, Ontario – Part 1 – Port Arthur – My Top 12 Picks

The City of Thunder Bay has three histories. The twin cities of Fort William and Port Arthur were amalgamated in 1970. Thunder Bay’s past is linked with the parallel but separate pasts of the two cities.

Port Arthur was a city in Northern Ontario which amalgamated with Fort William and the townships of Neebing and McIntyre to form the city of Thunder Bay in January 1970.

With Confederation in 1867, Simon James Dawson was employed to construct a road and route from Thunder Bay on Lake Superior to the Red River Colony. The depot on the lake, where supplies were landed and stored acquired its first name in May 1870. It was named Prince Arthur’s Landing in honor of Prince Arthur, son of Queen Victoria who was serving with his regiment in Montreal.

Prospering from the CPR railway construction boom of 1882–1885, Port Arthur was incorporated as a town in March 1884, one year after acquiring its new name. The CPR erected Thunder Bay’s and western Canada’s first terminal grain elevator on the bay in 1883. The end of CPR construction along the north shore of Lake Superior and the CPR’s decision to centralize its operations along the lower Kaministiquia River brought an end to Port Arthur’s prosperity. Silver mining had been the mainstay of the economy for most of the 1870s. The silver mining boom of the 1880s came to an end with the passage by the U.S. Congress of the McKinley Tariff in October 1890. The town was in dire economic straits until 1897–1899 when the entrepreneurs William Mackenzie and Donald Mann acquired the Ontario and Rainy River Railway and the Port Arthur, Duluth and Western Railway, and chose Port Arthur as the Lake Superior headquarters for the Canadian Northern Railway. Port Arthur thrived as a trans-shipment and grain handling port for the CNR after the railway line was opened to Winnipeg in December 1901.

Architectural Photos, Thunder Bay, Ontario

349 Waverley Street – St. Paul’s United Church was built in 1914 in mixed styles of Georgian (stone window surrounds) and Late Gothic Revival (double towers, buttresses, and geometrical tracery). The façade appears complicated because of the two different towers, the arched entrance portico with balcony above, the elaborate tracery, and the crenelations on the roof lines. Constructed of local red brick, white Bedford limestone is used for accent. A wide segmental arch with molding frames the covered entry; the doors are placed to the right and left, in the base of the towers. Above the arch there are spandrels filled with floral relief ornament. The piers to either side of the arch conclude with tall pointed finials. The north wall above the balcony has three large segmental arched windows with stone surrounds. Shallow stepped buttresses in brick with triangular capstones separate the windows. The honeycomb window tracery is applied to the windows rather than the structure. A date stone, 1913, is located above the window. – Port Arthur Book 1

Architectural Photos, Thunder Bay, Ontario

401 Red River Road – Port Arthur Collegiate Institute was constructed in 1909 of Simpson Island stone in the Queen Anne style. Due to decreasing enrollment, the school was closed in 2007. Lakehead University purchased the building and it is now the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law. Originally symmetrical, the school has a four-storey central tower flanked by two three-storey wings. The curved step-gables of the wings repeat the curved crenelations atop the tower. Rounded battlements project from the topmost corners of the tower and oriel windows from the second level. The entrance is on the first floor of the tower and reached through a round arch. Both the tower and the wings have buttresses at the corners. – Book 1

Architectural Photos, Thunder Bay, Ontario

Red River Road – Queen Anne style with a three-storey tower with string courses between the windows; there are cornice brackets below the octagonal roof, and along the rest of the roof line; there is a second floor balcony above the veranda. – Book 1

Architectural Photos, Thunder Bay, Ontario

9 Water Street North – The Canadian National Railway Station was constructed in 1906 in the Chateauesque style. Brick is used on a symmetrical plan with Tyndall limestone used in the foundation and for decorative elements. The solid symmetrical arrangement of the masses and windows, combined with the Scottish Baronial style (the most noticeable characteristic of which is the bartizan, an overhanging corner turret), very high pitched roofs, multiple dormer windows, and crenelated turrets qualify this building as being a prime example of the “Railroad Gothic style” developed by the railway companies at the beginning of the twentieth century and is uniquely Canadian.
The plan of this brick building with pitch-faced limestone trim consists of a long, low, gabled central section. The large square end towers have centrally hipped roofs. The towers each have a central gable with three square-headed windows under one lintel course, with a string course, supported by stone corbels, at the windowsill level. Above the windows there is a triangular tablet bearing a wheat sheaf, the letters CNR and the date 1905, in relief. The second storey contains a triplet of round-headed windows with stone imposts and keystones; at the windowsill level there is a string course supported by a brick corbel table. The second storey of the central section consists of a parapeted gable with a bull’s eye window below it. There is a frame canopy over the first storey across the full length of the east wall; it is supported on frame brackets that rest on stone corbels. All the corners of the building have quoining. There is a tall brick chimney on the east slope of the roof over the central section. – Port Arthur Book 2

Architectural Photos, Thunder Bay, Ontario

9 Water Street North building end – The tower corners have bartizans with loophole windows, and stone bottoms and battlements.

Architectural Photos, Thunder Bay, Ontario

170 Red River Road – The Pagoda Visitor Centre was constructed in 1909. It was built specifically to capture the attention of visitors to Port Arthur. It is an eclectic mixture of Roman, Greek (the peristyle formed by the columns surrounding the outside of the building which support the roof and is characteristic of basic elements of western architecture), Indian Islamic (mushroom or umbrella-shaped roof) and Scandinavian architecture. The cupola on top of the roof was originally designed so that bands could play to welcome visitors. Above the entrance is a large carved stone panel with a beaver and maple leaves. – Book 2

Architectural Photos, Thunder Bay, Ontario

170 Red River Road – Above the entrance is a large carved stone panel with a beaver and maple leaves.

Architectural Photos, Thunder Bay, Ontario

146 Court Street North – McVicar Manor Bed and Breakfast is a 1906 Edwardian red brick home with three spacious rooms. It has a three-storey turret, and a two-and-a-half tower-like bay, cornice brackets, Ionic pillars supporting a wraparound veranda. – Book 2

Architectural Photos, Thunder Bay, Ontario

277 Camelot Street – The District Court House was constructed in 1924 in the Classical Revival style. The building is symmetrical and is constructed of structural steel with brick walls. The imposing exterior of the building includes the Classical pediment above the main entrance which is supported by four Corinthian columns. The white Tyndall limestone used for the columns, sills and the window casement rim contains visible fossils. – Book 2

Architectural Photos, Thunder Bay, Ontario

38-40 Cumberland Street South at the corner of Lincoln – The former Ottawa House hotel is a distinctive three-storey business block constructed of red brick in 1888. There is a wooden cornice at the roofline, decorative brick brackets which visually extend the cornice, and rectangular areas of patterned brickwork between the windows. Splayed brick forms an arch between the pairs of windows and the single window on the third-floor windows, and there are brick voussoirs above the second-storey windows. There is a second-floor balcony above the corner entrance. The hotel was advertised as having fifty rooms, baths, a steam furnace, and electric light. – Book 2

Architectural Photos, Thunder Bay, Ontario

17 Cumberland Street North – The Prince Arthur Hotel was built in 1911. The rooms were well heated and lighted; each one had hot and cold running water. The cost of a room for the night was as low as one dollar. Most early visitors to the Lakehead arrived by steamship or by rail, and disembarked at the stations near the Prince Arthur. The hotel was constructed of brick and stone and had a marble staircase. Six stories high, the building has prominent lintels above all upper floor windows, impressive massing, and decorative brick work on the top storey. There are slightly projecting pilasters on the stone portion of the building and a cut stone string-course between the fifth and sixth storeys. The original lake side entrance had formal terraced gardens and lawns that cascaded down to the Canadian Pacific Railway Station. The hotel was expanded in 1912 and again in 1920. A dining room, barbershop, newsstand, washrooms, writing room, balcony and extra wings were added. – Book 2

Architectural Photos, Thunder Bay, Ontario

12-22 Cumberland Street North – The Lyceum Theatre was built in 1909 to accommodate traveling shows and then later it was a movie theater; now it is several offices and stores. Some of the significant architectural features are keystones with bearded faces, segmented semi-circular windows, and a large stone panel in the center of the façade with the name LYCEUM in large letters. The building is steel framed with brick facing and stone trim. – Book 2