Thunder Bay District was established in 1871 from Algoma District.
This wild and beautiful land has been inhabited by Ojibwe/Ojibway (also known as Chippewa) people for hundreds of years. The first Europeans arrived in the 1670s as French explorers pushed westwards, and the heyday of the fur trade began in the late 1700s. The Northwest Company, “XY” Company and the infamous Hudson’s Bay Company had trading posts here, the largest and best-known being old Fort William (which has been reconstructed and is a popular “living history” attraction today). Descendents of the original Scottish, French and Ojibwe fur traders and voyageurs still live in the Thunder Bay District.
In the 1800s, another settlement sprung up some three miles to the east along the Lake Superior Shore. “The Depot”, as it was originally called, became even more important as the Dominion of Canada rushed to connect its communities by road, with an eye to lessening the prospect of the faraway western provinces joining the United States. The building of the “Dawson Road” to Red River in Rupertsland (present-day Manitoba) brought army troops and labourers to the area, which became known as “Prince Arthur’s Landing”, and eventually, as the town of Port Arthur. During the same time, prospectors and miners flocked to try to strike it rich in the wealthy rock of nearby Silver Islet, one of the largest silver veins known at the time.
The natural harbour of Thunder Bay offered economic opportunities for trade and shipping, and the rich mixed forest yielded logs, timber and pulp for paper. The railroad came, and cars of grain arrived from the prairies to be loaded into the great “laker” boats for transport through the St. Lawrence Seaway system. Manufacturing grew during the war years. All of these industries brought opportunities for the many people who immigrated, worked hard and eventually brought their families here from countries like England, Finland, Sweden and Denmark, Poland, the Ukraine and Slovakia, Italy, Sicily and Greece, and many more. Many of these cultural communities, including the Fort William First Nation and Nishnaabe-Aski Nation, have remained a strong and integral part of the fabric of this community today.
The city of Thunder Bay was created in 1970 from the amalgamtion of the "twin cities" of Port Arthur and Fort William. It is located on the north shore of Lake Superior at 48° 22' N, 89° 19' W. In 2001 the population of the city was 121,986. Today, the City of Thunder Bay remains an important shipping terminal. Pulp and paper, grain handling and manufacturing are also still a large part of the local economy. With a university and a community college, a new regional health centre and a thriving technology sector, Thunder Bay is looking towards a bright future. It is still renowned as one of the most naturally beautiful places in Canada. The iconic “Sleeping Giant” or Sibley Peninsula (which forms the arm of the great Bay) was recently voted “People’s Choice” at the top of the list of CBC's Seven Wonders of Canada, and tourism will continue to grow with a new waterfront development plan.
The people of Thunder Bay are immensely proud of the hard work and pioneering spirit of the First Nations peoples and the European settlers of our community who have worked together to make this city a beautiful place to live. We invite you to explore this site and find your roots in Thunder Bay, Ontario!
A volunteer is needed to maintain this website and answer visitor enquiries regarding genealogy research in this area.
A host is a person who is knowledgeable about Thunder Bay District. Knowledge includes knowing what genealogy resources are available for this particular area of Ontario and where they can be found -- inside and outside of Ontario. Personal research experience in this area is a bonus.
Also seeking Consultants – volunteers who are knowledgeable about this area but have no desire to maintain a website. A consultant has one task: to answer inquiries about doing genealogy research in Thunder Bay District. Personal research experience in/of Thunder Bay District is required. Where you live is not an issue.
|Thanks to Art Gunnell, Kathleen O'Brien & Sue Baker for hosting Thunder Bay District GenWeb 1997-2007
||This site is part of OntarioGenWeb