Thunder Bay, Ontario – Part 2 – My Top 19 Picks

Thunder Bay, Ontario – Part 2 – My Top 19 Picks

Fort William was a city in Northern Ontario located on the Kaministiquia River at its entrance to Lake Superior. It amalgamated with Port Arthur and the townships of Neebing and McIntyre to form the city of Thunder Bay in January 1970. The city’s Latin motto was A posse ad esse (From a Possibility to an Actuality) featured on its coat of arms designed in 1900 by town officials. “On one side of the shield stands an Indian dressed in the paint and feathers of the early days; on the other side is a French voyageur; the center contains an elevator, a steamship and a locomotive, while the beaver surmounts the whole.”

In about 1684, Daniel Greysolon, Sieur du Lhut, established a trading post near the mouth of the Kaministiquia River. French authorities closed this post in 1696 because of a glut on the fur market. In 1717, a new post, Fort Kaministiquia, was established at the river mouth. The post was abandoned in 1758 or 1760 during the British conquest of New France.

In 1803, the Nor ‘Westers established a new fur trading post on the Kaministiquia River and the post was named Fort William in 1807 after William McGillivray, chief director of the North West Company from 1804-1821. After the union of the North West Company with the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) in 1821 most trade shifted to York Factory on Hudson Bay. Two townships (Neebing and Paipoonge) and the Fort William Town Plot were surveyed in 1859-60 and opened to settlement.

By 1883-84, the Montreal-based CPR syndicate, in collaboration with the Hudson’s Bay Company, clearly preferred the low-lying lands along the lower Kaministiquia River to the exposed shores of Port Arthur, which required an expensive breakwater if shipping and port facilities were to be protected from the waves. The CPR subsequently consolidated all its operations there, erecting rail yards, coal-handling facilities, grain elevators and a machine shop.

Architectural Photos, Thunder Bay, Ontario

1306 Ridgeway Street East – It was constructed in 1911 with Simpson Island stone. This two and a half storey European style home has many unique architectural characteristics which include the prominent red tiling on the high pitched gable roof as well as the light gray squared rubble that was used in the construction. The iron porch was added after Bishop E. Q. Jennings purchased the house in 1958. – Thunder Bay Book 3

Architectural Photos, Thunder Bay, Ontario

1303 Ridgeway Street East – Strachan Residence – Cecil R. Strachan, a local jeweler, was the first owner. It is built in a Revival Period style, has a stucco exterior in a light gray-green colour contrasted with hood moulds found around the main entrance and windows on the first storey. The entrance is embrasure with plain moulding. Above the entry is a window with a baluster barrier. The bay windows of the façade of the house are divided with glazing bars. – Thunder Bay Book 3

Architectural Photos, Thunder Bay, Ontario

1100 Ridgeway Street East – Windrose was built in 1910 for Frederick and Cora Morris – he was a solicitor in Fort William beginning in 1897. Queen Anne Revival style – red brick contrasted with cut stone, wood and a rubble stone coursed foundation. The front façade is asymmetrical and the roofline is irregular. The central bay is flat topped, another bay has a rounded dormer, and the third bay has a pointed dormer. The façade has two Palladian windows on the first floor, and a second floor bay window which suit the Queen Anne style. The house has two rounded verandas supported by classically inspired columns. – Thunder Bay Book 3

Architectural Photos, Thunder Bay, Ontario

431 Selkirk Street South – The Murphy house and grounds, span a whole city block. They are a reminder of the days of Edwardian commercial wealth. The house is a three and a half storey home in brick and stone. James Murphy arrived in Fort William in 1884 and earned his fortune by establishing the James Murphy Coal Company, after having gained valuable experience as a fuel contractor for the Canadian Pacific Railway. The company shipped fuel throughout Northwestern Ontario and into Manitoba. Members of the Murphy family remained in the mansion after the death of James Murphy in 1928, and the subdivision of the house into apartments in 1946. – Thunder Bay Book 3

Architectural Photos, Thunder Bay, Ontario

541 Norah Street – two-storey bay window, second and third floor balconies – Thunder Bay Book 3

Architectural Photos, Thunder Bay, Ontario

410 Norah Street – Neo-colonial – Tudor half-timbering on gables – Thunder Bay Book 3

Architectural Photos, Thunder Bay, Ontario

512 Marks Street South – Fort William Collegiate Institute was constructed in 1907 to house the ever increasing need for a secondary school in Fort William. A big reconstruction in 1918 added the Vocational Wing. A second addition was constructed in 1925, and a third in 1970. The stately structure acted as a symbol of social importance to the community. Constructed of brick and stone, the building is three and a half storeys high and is eclectic in design. The main façade, which faces Marks Street South repeats its main architectural features on both the Isabella and Catherine Street sides. The building boasts impressive stonework and features large columns with Corinthian capitals which span from the second to third storey. They are topped by a circular pediment with a decorated typanum below a stepped parapet. The oak doors of the main entrance as well as the woodwork in the lobby area add to the stately décor of the structure. – Thunder Bay Book 3

Architectural Photos, Thunder Bay, Ontario

400 Catherine Street South – This house was built in 1911 for William Ross and his family. Ross worked as an engineer on the Canadian Pacific Railway and as the treasurer of Northern Engineering. Starting in 1947 the house was used by the Lakehead Board of Education. In 1966 it was sold and was divided into apartments and remains as such today. This two and a half storey Tudor Revival home was constructed of red sandstone. Architectural features include the massive three storey portico on the façade, and the truncated hipped roof. The north and south slopes of the roof each have a chimney. – Thunder Bay Book 3

Architectural Photos, Thunder Bay, Ontario

121 McKellar Street South – Built in 1907 for owner Thomas P. Kelley, a local merchant, the house was later sold to Dr. R. Kerr Dewar who had fought in the First World War, returned home to study medicine and purchased this home in 1920. The first floor was converted to a medical clinic in 1928. The building is a good example of Edwardian Classicism. It has metal cresting on one of the dormer windows. The first and second floors both have distinctive Palladian windows with prominent keystones. On the front façade, the centrally placed wood covered porch is supported by brick piers. There is a two-storey bay window. – Thunder Bay Book 4

Architectural Photos, Thunder Bay, Ontario

440 South Syndicate Avenue – Built in 1911 as a union station by the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) and the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway (GTPR), the station served as a passenger terminal and as administrative headquarters for the vast grain-handling facilities that were the foundation of the community. Union Station is a good example of Beaux-Arts design applied to a railway station. Notable architectural features include a projecting central bay with stone quoins and two wheat sheaves carved in Bedford stone, an arched entrance with a transom light, and projecting end bays with pilasters topped with decorative elements. – Thunder Bay Book 4

Architectural Photos, Thunder Bay, Ontario

130 South Syndicate Avenue – The Federal Building represents a turning point in the development of Fort William. The Federal Building was constructed between 1934 and 1936. It is an example of the Beaux-Arts style that employs classical decorative elements to achieve a monumental effect. The building shows attention to symmetry, proportion and detail throughout. Excellent craftsmanship and materials are seen in the rich detailing of the exterior stonework and also in the opulence of the interior finishes. – Thunder Bay Book 4

Architectural Photos, Thunder Bay, Ontario

207-211 Brodie Street South – St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church was designed in the style of fourteenth century English Gothic. One of the most striking architectural features of the church is the massive tower at the northeast corner. It is made from Simpson islet grey/white sandstone. The main entrance, which faces Brodie Street, is composed of two Gothic arches with elaborate moulds and is supported at the center and on either side by ten massive, polished granite columns. The ornamental cap of Bedford stone is beautifully carved, the design at the centre being the Maple Leaf, while the one on the right is carved into a Rose and on the left, the Scottish Thistle. The label mould around the arches stops with two bosses, carved with Shamrocks in bold relief, while on the right arch final is carved the Leek, representing Wales and on the left final are the Lilies of France. These carvings are symbolic of the fact that everyone is welcome to the church. The main tower rises to a height of ninety-five feet and is supported by four angle buttresses. Square to the clock loft, it changes into an octagon and terminates in the well-known typical Gothic weathering of this period of architecture. Stained glass windows enhance the beauty of the church, depicting The Good Shepard, the Dove with the Olive Branch, a Wheat Sheaf, the Burning Bush and St. Andrew’s Cross. – Thunder Bay Book 4

Architectural Photos, Thunder Bay, Ontario

216 Brodie Street South – The Brodie Resource Library, which opened in 1912, followed the architectural guidelines established by its benefactor, Mr. Andrew Carnegie. Resembling Palladian Renaissance architecture, the library’s symmetrical staircase entrance was embellished with a pair of Ionic columns enclosed by pilasters. Carnegie approached library design with symbolism in mind, and the staircase entrance was supposed to have denoted a person’s rise through intellectual learning. Brodie Street Resource Library’s entrance was renovated in 1966 to permit accessibility, and the pilasters were changed into square piers. The overall composition of the exterior is Neo-Renaissance in character. Red brick and limestone pilasters and columns rest on a heavy stone base. Arches and columns arranged symmetrically about the main entrance support a bracketed cornice. The cornice in turn supports a brick parapet which corresponds to the Renaissance balustrade. Other notable architectural features of the library are the arched windows and their surrounding decorative stonework, the stained-glass windows depicting famous authors, from Dante to Ibsen, the parapet inscribed ‘Public Library,’ and the ornamental scrolls which adorn it.

Architectural Photos, Thunder Bay, Ontario

135 Archibald Street South – Vernacular style – The house which stands on the corner of Archibald and Miles Street was first owned by Sarah Jane and George Coo. It is thought that George designed the building which has an elegant and eclectic feel. The jutting turrets, arched entranceway and quarter-wheel windows are features which one wouldn’t expect on such a modest-sized structure. The house is characterized by an ostentatious conical turret with faux brickwork façade. The windows are all of varied shapes and sizes, lending themselves to the overall eclecticism of the house. The large window on the main floor has a shelf entablature above it; there is also a large stone sill supported by brackets. Above the double-hung window on the second level is a molded shelf which begins rather abruptly and continues around the turret.

Architectural Photos, Thunder Bay, Ontario

701 Victoria Avenue East – The Chapple Building – In 1913, Fort William was designated the headquarters of the Grain Commission. A prominent building was constructed in the community with the facilities to handle and inspect grain. The structure housed offices on the third floor and the bottom two storeys were rented to the Chapples Company as a department store. Chapples sold everything from “lady-ready-to-wear” to “hardware” and upon its opening in this building boasted a staff of one hundred. The façade of the building features Classical detailing. Some of the architectural features are large scale dentils located on the metal projecting cornice and brick piers with stone relief capitals creating seven bays. The building has a recessed entrance with Doric columns.

Architectural Photos, Thunder Bay, Ontario

114 May Street South – Upon completion in 1929, the Royal Edward Arms hotel had 105 rooms, each furnished with a bath and there were an additional twenty-one simple rooms which were available for day rental. The dining room seated 150 people and the kitchen was well equipped to deal with busy dinner hours, with a dishwasher capable of washing 7,000 dishes per hour, a 40 gallon soup kettle and an 8 gallon coffee urn. A large ball room, a convention hall and a banquet hall were also features of the lavish hotel. The Royal Edward Arms was a successfully run hotel for many years. Many notable people spent nights at the hotel, with perhaps the most memorable visit being from the Royal Family; Queen Elizabeth II visited with Prince Charles in the 1950s and although they didn’t spend the night they did rent a day room. In the 1980s the hotel was converted to apartments. It is in the Art Deco style. Although the exterior has a stucco or plaster look to it especially with the decorative work, the entire building is concrete. Slipform Construction technique is a sliding-form construction method of pouring vertical concrete structures. It begins with the construction of a fixed-diameter form on top of a foundation, with a back-up support and bracing system to ensure that the form maintains its shape during movement. Inside and outside forms create the cavity of the wall, and inside this cavity, reinforcing steel is tied together vertically and horizontally to reinforce the concrete wall. The form is then connected to jack rods with hydraulic jacks, which automatically move the form vertically in minute increments as the concrete is being poured. Once pouring begins, it continues until the top of the structure is reached, allowing for a large poured concrete structure. This method of construction is typically used on large-scale storage silos and other vertical concrete structures, such as elevator cores and batch houses.

Architectural Photos, Thunder Bay, Ontario

201 May Street North – The Revenue Canada Building is associated with the federal government’s expansion of services into smaller communities, and with its provision of well designed, up-to-date facilities. It was built from 1913-1916 when Fort William was one of the world’s largest grain-handling ports and a major trade and transportation point and railway terminal. The construction of the building reflects the unprecedented prosperity and optimism of the early twentieth century as well as the expansion of east-west trade and the economic importance of customs activities. The Revenue Canada Building is an example of Beaux-Arts Classicism. This style was commonly used by the Department of Public Works for public institutions in the early twentieth century. The building’s good craftsmanship and materials are demonstrated in its use of pale limestone veneer and granite accents on the two principal elevations and in the masonry details.

Architectural Photos, Thunder Bay, Ontario

425 Donald Street East – Thunder Bay Museum – The Police Station and Court House was built in 1912. It is an example of the Edwardian Classical style of architecture. It had enough space for a Court room, separate cell blocks for men, women and juveniles, law clerk and magistrate offices as well as a public hall for meetings. A wide flight of curving stone stairs surrounded by a solid, stepped stone parapet leads to an imposing portico. Subdivided into three sections, the central portion of the façade is recessed and framed by two massive columns. The free standing columns rise two stories and are accented by two pilasters that are attached to the façade wall on both sides of the entrance. The placement of these pilasters gives the impression that there are four columns instead of two, creating an interesting optical illusion. The pilasters are also crowned by carved acanthus leaves and small volutes. The tapered columns are adorned by Roman Corinthian capitals. The columns support a massive moulded architrave which extends across the façade; over the entrance is a pediment with a bull’s eye window. The date 1910 is in high relief on the broken pediment. The façade is rusticated stone up to the 2nd floor and the remainder of the façade is faced with Milton brick. Although the windows of the upper portion of the façade have been altered, the stone sills and lintels remain intact. The old police station was renovated to house the Thunder Bay Museum. The major exhibits of the Museum, which opened in 1997, have ample space as additions have been made to the already fair-sized structure.

Kakabeka Falls, Ontario

Kakabeka Falls is a waterfall on the Kaministiquia River located thirty kilometers (nineteen miles) west of the city of Thunder Bay. The falls have a drop of forty meters (one hundred and thirty feet), cascading into a gorge. The name “Kakabeka” comes from the Ojibwe word meaning “waterfall over a cliff”.