Thunder Bay facts for kids
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|City of Thunder Bay|
Overview of Thunder Bay
"Canada’s Gateway to the West", "T-Bay", "Lakehead" or "The Lakehead"
Superior by Nature / The Gateway to the West
|District||Thunder Bay District|
|Settled||1683 as Fort Caministigoyan|
|Amalgamation||1 January 1970|
Thunder Bay—Superior North/Thunder Bay—Rainy River
|Provincial||Thunder Bay—Superior North/Thunder Bay—Atikokan|
|• Type||Municipal Government|
|• City (single-tier)||447.5 km2 (172.8 sq mi)|
|• Land||328.24 km2 (126.73 sq mi)|
|• Water||119.0 km2 (45.9 sq mi) 26.6%|
|• Urban||179.38 km2 (69.26 sq mi)|
|• Metro||2,556.37 km2 (987.02 sq mi)|
|Elevation||199 m (653 ft)|
|• City (single-tier)||108,359 (46th)|
|• Density||330.1/km2 (855/sq mi)|
|• Urban||102,222 (30th)|
|• Urban density||569.9/km2 (1,476/sq mi)|
|• Metro||121,596 (32nd)|
|• Metro density||47.6/km2 (123/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC−5 (EST)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−4 (EDT)|
|Postal code FSA||
P7A to P7G, P7J, P7K
Thunder Bay is a city in, and the seat of, Thunder Bay District, Ontario, Canada. It is the most populous municipality in Northwestern Ontario with a population of 108,359 as of the Canada 2011 Census, and the second most populous in Northern Ontario after Greater Sudbury. Located on Lake Superior, the census metropolitan area of Thunder Bay has a population of 121,596, and consists of the city of Thunder Bay, the municipalities of Oliver Paipoonge and Neebing, the townships of Shuniah, Conmee, O'Connor, and Gillies, and the Fort William First Nation.
European settlement in the region began in the late 17th century with a French fur trading outpost on the banks of the Kaministiquia River. It grew into an important transportation hub with its port forming an important link in the shipping of grain and other products from western Canada, through the Great Lakes and the Saint Lawrence Seaway, to the east coast. Forestry and manufacturing played important roles in the city's economy. They have declined in recent years, but have been replaced by a "knowledge economy" based on medical research and education. Thunder Bay is the site of the Thunder Bay Regional Research Institute.
The city takes its name from the immense Thunder Bay at the head of Lake Superior, known on 18th-century French maps as Baie du Tonnerre (Bay of Thunder). The city is often referred to as the "Lakehead", or "Canadian Lakehead", because of its location at the end of Great Lakes navigation on the Canadian side of the border.
European settlement at Thunder Bay began with two French fur trading posts (1683, 1717) which were subsequently abandoned (see Fort William, Ontario). In 1803, the Montreal-based North West Company established Fort William as its mid-continent entrepôt. The fort thrived until 1821 when the North West Company merged with the Hudson's Bay Company, and Fort William was no longer needed.
By the 1850s, the Province of Canada began to take an interest in its western extremity. Discovery of copper in the Keweenaw Peninsula of Michigan had prompted a national demand for mining locations on the Canadian shores of Lake Superior. In 1849, French-speaking Jesuits established the Mission de l'Immaculée-Conception (Mission of the Immaculate Conception) on the Kaministiquia to evangelize the Ojibwe. The Province of Canada negotiated the Robinson Treaty in 1850 with the Ojibwa of Lake Superior. As a result, an Indian reserve was set aside for them south of the Kaministiquia River. In 1859–60, the Department of Crown Lands surveyed two townships (Neebing and Paipoonge) and the Town Plot of Fort William for European-Canadian settlement.
Another settlement developed a few miles to the north of Fort William after construction by the federal Department of Public Works of a road connecting Lake Superior with the Red River Colony. The work was directed by Simon James Dawson (see Port Arthur, Ontario). This public works depot or construction headquarters acquired its first name in May 1870 when Colonel Garnet Wolseley named it Prince Arthur's Landing. It was renamed Port Arthur by the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) in May 1883.
The arrival of the CPR in 1875 sparked a long rivalry between the towns, which did not end until the amalgamation of 1970. Until the 1880s, Port Arthur was a much larger and dynamic community. The CPR, in collaboration with the Hudson's Bay Company, preferred east Fort William, located on the lower Kaministiquia River where the fur trade posts were. Provoked by a prolonged tax dispute with Port Arthur and its seizure of a locomotive in 1889, the CPR relocated all its employees and facilities to Fort William. The collapse of silver mining after 1890 undermined the economy of Port Arthur. It had an economic depression, while Fort William thrived.
In the era of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Thunder Bay began a period of extraordinary growth, based on improved access to markets via the transcontinental railway and development of the western wheat boom. The CPR double-tracked its Winnipeg–Thunder Bay line. The Canadian Northern Railway established facilities at Port Arthur. The Grand Trunk Pacific Railway began construction of its facilities at the Fort William Mission in 1905, and the federal government began construction of the National Transcontinental Railway. Grain elevator construction boomed as the volume of grain shipped to Europe increased. Both cities incurred debt to grant bonuses to manufacturing industries.
By 1914, the twin cities had modern infrastructures (sewers, safe water supply, street lighting, electric light, etc.) Both Fort William and Port Arthur were proponents of municipal ownership. As early as 1892, Port Arthur built Canada's first municipally-owned electric street railway. Both cities spurned Bell Telephone Company of Canada to establish their own municipally-owned telephone systems in 1902.
The boom came to an end in 1913–14, aggravated by the outbreak of the First World War. A war-time economy emerged with the making of munitions and shipbuilding. Men from the cities joined the 52nd, 94th, and 141st Battalions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.
Railway employment was hurt when the federal government took over the National Transcontinental Railway and Lake Superior Division from the Grand Trunk in 1915, and the Canadian Northern Railway in 1918. These were amalgamated with other government-owned railways in 1923 to form the Canadian National Railways. The CNR closed many of the Canadian Northern Railway facilities in Port Arthur. It opened the Neebing yards in Neebing Township in 1922. By 1929, the population of the two cities had recovered to pre-war levels.
The forest products industry has played an important role in the Thunder Bay economy, from the 1870s. Logs and lumber were shipped primarily to the United States. In 1917, the first pulp and paper mill was established in Port Arthur. It was followed by a mill at Fort William, in 1920. Eventually there were four mills operating.
Manufacturing resumed in 1937 when the Canada Car and Foundry Company plant (opened during late World War I to produce naval ships and railcars) re-opened to build aircraft for the British. Now run by Bombardier Transportation, the plant has remained a mainstay of the post-war economy. It has produced forestry equipment and transportation equipment for urban transit systems, such as the Toronto Transit Commission and GO Transit.
On 1 January 1970, the City of Thunder Bay was formed through the merger of the cities of Fort William, Port Arthur, and the geographic townships of Neebing and McIntyre. Its name was the result of a referendum held previously on 23 June 1969, to determine the new name of the amalgamated Fort William and Port Arthur. Officials debated over the names to be put on the ballot, taking suggestions from residents including "Lakehead" and "The Lakehead". Predictably, the vote split between the two, and "Thunder Bay" was the victor. The final tally was "Thunder Bay" with 15,870, "Lakehead" with 15,302, and "The Lakehead" with 8,377.
There was more controversy over the selection of a name for the amalgamated city than over whether to amalgamate. A vocal majority of the population preferred the "Lakehead". There was much discussion over whether there was any other city in the world that uses the word "The" in its name, which there is, as The Pas, Manitoba has "The" in its name, for example. The area was often referred to as the "Lakehead" before and after amalgamation based on its geographic location. It was seen as the "head" of shipping on the Great Lakes and the "rail head".
The expansion of highways, beginning with the Trans-Canada Highway, and culminating with the opening of Highway 17 (linking Sault Ste Marie to Thunder Bay in 1960), has significantly diminished railway and shipping activity since the 1970s and 80s. Shipping on the Saint Lawrence Seaway was superseded by trucking on highways. Grain shipping on the Great Lakes to the East has declined substantially in favour of transport to Pacific Coast ports. As a result, many grain elevators have been closed and demolished. The Kaministiquia River was abandoned by industry and shipping.
Thunder Bay has become the regional services centre for Northwestern Ontario with most provincial departments represented. Lakehead University, established through the lobbying of local businessmen and professionals, has proved to be a major asset. Another upper level institution is Confederation College. The same businessmen and professionals who helped attract the university and college were the driving force(s) behind the political amalgamation of Fort William and Port Arthur in 1970.
The city has an area of 328.48 square kilometres, which includes the former cities of Fort William and Port Arthur, as well as the [former] townships of Neebing and McIntyre. The city reflects the settlement patterns of the 19th century and sprawls. Anchoring the west end of the city, the Fort William Town Plot, surveyed in 1859–60, was named West Fort William (or Westfort) in 1888 by the CPR. The land adjoining the lower Kaministiquia River became the residential and central business district of the town and city of Fort William. A large uninhabited area adjoining the Neebing and McIntyre rivers, which became known as Intercity, separated Fort William from the residential and central business district of Port Arthur. At the extreme east of the city, a part of McIntyre Township was annexed to the town of Port Arthur in 1892, forming what later became known as the Current River area.
The former Port Arthur section is more typical of the Canadian Shield, with gently sloping hills and very thin soil lying on top of bedrock with many bare outcrops. Thunder Bay, which gives the city its name, is about 22.5 kilometres (14.0 mi) from the Port Arthur downtown to Thunder Cape at the tip of the Sleeping Giant. The former Fort William section occupies flat alluvial land along the Kaministiquia River. In the river delta are two large islands: Mission Island and McKellar Island. Since 1970, the central business districts of Fort William and Port Arthur have suffered a serious decline. Business and government relocated to new developments in the Intercity area. There has also been substantial residential growth in adjacent areas of the former Neebing and McIntyre townships.
The Thunder Bay area experiences a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfb) that is influenced by Lake Superior, with especially noticeable effects in the city's north end. This results in cooler summer temperatures and warmer winter temperatures for an area extending inland as far as 16 km. The average daily temperatures range from 17.7 °C (63.9 °F) in July to −14.3 °C (6.3 °F) in January. The average daily high in July is 24.3 °C (75.7 °F) and the average daily high in January is −8.0 °C (17.6 °F). On 10 January 1982, the local temperature in Thunder Bay dropped to −36.3 °C (−33.3 °F), with a wind speed of 54 km (34 mi) for a wind chill temperature that dipped to −58 °C (−72.4 °F). As a result, it holds Ontario's record for coldest day with wind chill. The highest temperature ever recorded in Thunder Bay was 40.3 °C (104.5 °F) on 7 August 1983. The coldest temperature ever recorded was −43.2 °C (−45.8 °F) on 31 January 1996.
The city is quite sunny, with an average of 2121 hours of bright sunshine each year, ranging from 268.1 hours in July to 86.2 hours in November, sunnier than any city in Canada located to the east of it. Winters are comparatively dry with the snowfall being very limited and temperatures much colder than in Houghton, Michigan on the U.S. side of the lake, where the climate is marked by heavy lake-effect snow. Thunder Bay has more of a continental climate in comparison.
|Climate data for Thunder Bay Airport, 1981−2010 normals, extremes 1877−present|
|Record high °C (°F)||8.3
|Average high °C (°F)||−8.0
|Daily mean °C (°F)||-14.3
|Average low °C (°F)||−20.6
|Record low °C (°F)||−43.2
|Precipitation mm (inches)||26.3
|Rainfall mm (inches)||0.39
|Snowfall cm (inches)||36.5
|Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm)||12.0||9.5||10.3||9.5||11.5||13.8||12.9||12.3||13.7||12.9||12.1||12.4||142.9|
|Avg. rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm)||0.57||1.1||3.4||7.1||11.0||13.8||12.9||12.3||13.5||11.0||4.7||1.2||90.7|
|Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.2 cm)||12.9||9.6||8.4||4.0||0.50||0.0||0.0||0.0||0.27||3.4||9.7||13.9||62.5|
|Source #1: Environment Canada Extremes 1877–1941|
|Source #2: CBC|
Thunder Bay is composed of two formerly separate cities, Port Arthur and Fort William. Both still retain much of their distinct civic identities, reinforced by the buffering effect of the Intercity area between them. Port Arthur and Fort William each has its own central business districts and suburban areas. Some of the more well-known neighbourhoods include: the Bay and Algoma area, which has a large northern European population centred around the Finnish Labour Temple and the Italian Cultural Centre; Simpson-Ogden and the East End, two of the oldest neighbourhoods in Fort William located north of Downtown Fort William; Intercity, a large business district located between Fort William and Port Arthur; Current River, the northernmost neighbourhood of Port Arthur; and Westfort, the oldest settlement in Thunder Bay. Within city limits are some small rural communities, such as Vickers Heights and North McIntyre, which were located in the former townships of Neebing and McIntyre, respectively.
|multiple responses included|
According to the 2006 Census, there were 109,140 people residing in Thunder Bay on 16 May 2006, of whom 48.4% were male and 51.6% were female. Residents 19 years of age or younger accounted for approximately 22.9% of the population. People aged by 20 and 39 years accounted for 24.6%, while those between 40 and 64 made up 35.9% of the population. The average age of a Thunder Bayer in May 2006 was 41.7, compared to the average of 39.5 for Canada as a whole.
Between the censuses of 2001 and 2006, Thunder Bay's population increased by 0.1%, compared to the average of 6.6% for Ontario and 5.4% for Canada. The population density of the city of Thunder Bay averaged 332.3 people per square kilometre, compared with an average of 13.4 for Ontario. The total population has been stagnant or declining since amalgamation in 1970.
A further 13,767 people lived in Thunder Bay's Census Metropolitan Area, which apart from Thunder Bay includes the municipalities of Neebing and Oliver Paipoonge, the townships of Conmee, Gillies, O'Connor and Shuniah, and the aboriginal community of Fort William First Nation.
According to the census, Thunder Bay was home to 14,510 people of Finnish descent, the highest concentration of people of Finnish origin per capita in Canada, and the second largest Finnish population in Canada after that of Toronto (14,750). Thunder Bay has a large Aboriginal population representing 8.2% of the population, but few other ethnic minorities. The most populous of these others, the Chinese Canadians, represent only 0.8% of the population.
In terms of Canada's official languages, 81.6% of Thunder Bayers spoke only English, and 2.6% spoke only French. Thunder Bay has one of the largest established communities of Finnish speaking people outside of Finland. Other languages spoken in Thunder Bay include Italian and Ojibwe.
The 2001 census states that 82.0 per cent of Thunder Bay residents belonged to a Christian denomination: 39.8% of the total population was Roman Catholic, 39.5% were Protestant, and 2.6% followed other Christian denominations, mostly Eastern Orthodox. Those who followed other religions made up less than 1% of the population, while the remaining 17.0% were non-religious or did not respond.
Thunder Bay's main tourist attraction is Fort William Historical Park, a reconstruction of the North West Company's Fort William fur trade post as it was in 1815, which attracts 100,000 visitors annually. The marina in downtown Port Arthur, an area known as The Heart of the Harbour, draws visitors for its panoramic view of the Sleeping Giant and the presence of various water craft. The marina also includes a lake walk, playground, harbour cruises, a children's museum, and a Chinese/Canadian restaurant. There are several small surface amethyst mines in the area, some of which allow visitors to search for their own crystals. A 2.74 m (9 ft) statue of Terry Fox is situated at the Terry Fox Memorial and Lookout on the outskirts of the city near the place where he was forced to abandon his run. Other tourists attractions are listed below.
The city of Thunder Bay was declared a "Cultural Capital of Canada" in 2003. Throughout the city are cultural centres representing the diverse population, such as the Finnish Labour Temple, Scandinavia House, the Italian Cultural Centre, the Polish Legion, and a wide variety of others. Shags, a combination shower and stag held to celebrate the engagement of a couple, and Persians, a cinnamon bun pastry with pink icing, originated in the city. Thunder Bay is served by the Thunder Bay Public Library, which has four branches.
Thunder Bay is home to a variety of music and performance arts venues. The largest professional theatre is Magnus Theatre. Founded in 1971, it offers six stage plays each season and is located in the renovated Port Arthur Public School on Red River Road. The Thunder Bay Community Auditorium, which seats 1500, is the primary venue for various types of entertainment. It is the home of the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra, which has 30 full-time and up to 20 extra musicians presenting a full range of classical music. New Music North is vital to the contemporary classical music scene in the city by offering intriguing and novel contemporary chamber music concerts.
The Bay Street Film Festival, established in 2005, is an independent film festival that features local, national, and international films with the theme of "Films for the People." The festival is held in early October at 314 Bay Street in the historic Finnish Labour Temple. Thunder Bay is also home to the North of Superior Film Association (NOSFA). Established in 1992, the NOSFA features monthly screenings of international and Canadian films at the Cumberland Cinema Centre, with a spring film festival that attracts several thousand patrons.
Museums and galleries
The Thunder Bay Art Gallery, which was founded in 1976, specializes in the works of First Nations artists, having a collection of national significance. The Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society, founded in 1908, presents local and traveling exhibitions and houses an impressive collection of artifacts, photographs, paintings, documents and maps in its archives.
Thunder Bay has two recognized Federal Heritage buildings on the Register of the Government of Canada Heritage Buildings:
- Ordnance Store Recognized – 1997
- Park Street Armoury Recognized – 1994
Both are part of HMCS Griffin.
Places of worship
Thunder Bay has many places of worship supported by people of a variety of faiths, reflecting the cultural diversity of the population. A sample:
- Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church – Ukrainian Orthodox. The original wooden church, built by Ukrainian Orthodox families in 1911/1912, was almost destroyed by fire in 1936. The current church was built on the same site and opened in 1937. It has decorative gold domes that are characteristic of Ukrainian churches of the Bukovina area, with Orthodox crosses atop the domes.
- Calvary Lutheran Church was established in 1958 as a mission congregation of the Minnesota North District (USA).
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). The church has a family history library open to anyone to research their genealogy.
- Elim Community Christian Centre. Pentecostal Church located in Current River area of the city.
- Evangel Church. Contemporary Pentecostal church with a strong emphasis on children, youth and (with their convenient location next to Lakehead University) young adults.
- First-Wesley United Church. The current Wesley United Church was preceded by a much smaller structure, Grace Methodist Church, which was built in 1891 and had a capacity of 100 people. The current Gothic 1,025 seat sanctuary was constructed in 1910.
- Hilldale Lutheran Church. Offers services in both English and Finnish. The church has an intimate atmosphere and wonderful acoustics, and is frequently used for musical performances.
- Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church. Founded in 1918, the church moved to its present building in 1991. The church is active in providing non-profit housing for needy families.
- Hope Christian Reformed Church. Services are recorded so that anyone with an internet connection may listen.
- Kitchitwa Kateri Anamewgamik. Roman Catholic communal church geared to Native culture and teachings. A drop-in centre provides coffee and serves soup & bannock.
- Lakehead Unitarian Fellowship. This Unitarian Universalist community includes Christians, Post-Christians, Buddhists, Pagans, Theists, Non-theists, Humanist-agnostics, and Atheists. They welcome and celebrate the presence and participation of gay, lesbian, bisexual, straight, and transgender persons.
- Redwood Park Church Contemporary member of the Christian Missionary Alliance. Runs an outreach at the old building on Edward street with a food bank and a clothing store.
- Saalem Church. Offers services in both English and Finnish.
- Shaarey Shomayim Congregation – Jewish Synagogue. This egalitarian community has the only mikvah between Winnipeg and Toronto.
- Shepherd of Israel Congregation – Messianic Jewish. Affiliated with Evangelical movement.
- St. Agnes Church. Roman Catholic Church. Founded in 1885, the new St. Agnes Church and Hall was dedicated on 6 June 1982. St. Vincent de Paul Society operates a food bank out of this church.
- St Stephen the Martyr Anglican Church. Provides a food cupboard for the Current River area.
- St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church. Founded in 1872, the current building was erected in 1884.
- St. Patrick's Cathedral – Roman Catholic. The old St. Patrick's Church was built in 1893. In 1963 it was replaced by the current cathedral on the same site.
Sports and recreation
Thunder Bay's proximity to the wilderness of the Boreal Forest and the rolling hills and mountains of the Canadian Shield allow its residents to enjoy very active lifestyles. The city has hosted several large sporting events including the Summer Canada Games in 1981, the Nordic World Ski Championships in 1995, the Continental Cup of Curling in 2003, and the World Junior Baseball Championship in 2010.
Thunder Bay enjoys many recreational facilities. The city operates fifteen neighbourhood community centres, which offer various sporting and fitness facilities as well as seasonal activities such as dances. The city also operates six indoor ice rinks and 84 seasonal outdoor rinks, two indoor community pools and three seasonal outdoor pools as well as a portable pool and two maintained public beaches, several curling sheets, and three golf courses, among others. Listed below are some of the city's major facilities.
Municipal ice rinks and indoor pools
Cross-Country Skiing Facilities
|Thunder Bay North Stars||Ice Hockey||Superior International Junior Hockey League||Fort William Gardens|
|Lakehead Thunderwolves||Basketball||Ontario University Athletics||C.J. Sanders Fieldhouse|
|Lakehead Thunderwolves||Baseball||National Club Baseball Association Div 2 (USA)||Baseball Central|
|Lakehead Thunderwolves||Ice Hockey||Ontario University Athletics||Fort William Gardens|
|Lakehead Thunderwolves||Volleyball||Ontario University Athletics||C.J. Sanders Fieldhouse|
|Thunder Bay Border Cats||Baseball||Northwoods League||Port Arthur Stadium|
|Thunder Bay Chill||Soccer||USL Premier Development League||Chapples Park Stadium|
Thunder Bay is also home to the National Development Centre – Thunder Bay, an elite cross-country ski team that attracts many of Canada's best Junior and U-23 skiers.
Thunder Bay 10 Mile Road Race
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