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City Government

Archival Holdings by Subject

This page provides information on genealogical resources, property information, and records of city departments.

Genealogical Resources

Information on former City residents can be traced through records of tax payment and burial records. Series listed below are subject to Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy legislation. For access classifications for all series, see the series lists. (By municipality: Thunder Bay, Port Arthur, Fort William.)


  • City Directories
    Henderson's directories (1909-2000) are available for reference use. These directories provide name and address listings for Port Arthur and Fort William, and for Thunder Bay. Occupations may also be listed.
  • Tax Assessment Rolls and Tax Collector's Rolls

    Researchers often consult Tax Assessment or Tax Collector's Rolls to confirm information obtained in City directories, as these are a more authoritative source for establishing residency and property ownership. Older assessment rolls list religious affiliation and other details that can not be legally recorded today. 

  • Cemetery records
    An excellent source for genealogical research. The City Archives has records from 1902 to 1966 for interments at the Mountainview cemetery in Fort William as well as burial records from 1951 to 1969. Due to the transfer of St. Patrick's Cemetery from the Catholic Bishop to the City in 1974, some documentation also exists on plot ownership at St. Patrick's Cemetery, recorded in the City Clerk's Files.

Property Information and Records

Fire Insurance Map showing ArmouryMany records contain information about property and buildings. These records can be used to research the construction of homes, obtain information on residents, or discover local properties of architectural or historical interest. Series listed below are subject to Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy legislation. For access classifications, see the series lists. (By municipality: Thunder Bay, Port Arthur, Fort William.)  



  • Tax Assessment Rolls and Tax Collector's Rolls
    Tax Assessment Rolls and Tax Collector's Rolls provide information on historical property values as well as ownership information. By reviewing assessment rolls over different years for one property, researchers can detect changes to assessment values which may indicate building improvements and lead to a review of building permits for more information. 
  • Fire Insurance Plans
    Fire Insurance Plans for Port Arthur and Fort William give details on building construction for both commercial and residential properties. These visually interesting records were generated to establish rates for insurance purposes, and detail the layout, material construction and use of buildings. Plans dating back to the early 1900s are stored at the City Archives, prepared by C. E. Goad and the Underwriters' Survey Bureau. Shown above is a portion of a fire insurance plan depicting a small residential area north of the downtown core of Port Arthur (1908) between Nugent Street and North Cumberland.
  • Local Architectural Conservation Advisory Committee Files (LACAC)
    The City Archives is also the repository for some LACAC records. LACAC designates local buildings as architecturally or historically significant. Documentation exists on the designation of these buildings, and also includes research files compiled by summer students.
  • Fort William and Port Arthur Building Permits
    Documentation for Fort William consists of Permits (1941-1969; Fort William Series 122) and Permit Registers (1907-1969; Fort William Series 11). These sources provide a description of construction modifications made to a property under a Permit. Port Arthur Building Permit applications are available on microfilm dating back to 1912 (Port Arthur Series 169). In addition to the applicant's name, contractor, cost of construction and other details are usually also included.
  • Building Plans
    Building Plans have been acquired as part of permit applications since 1970. Depending on the nature of the application for construction, these plans may range from a hand drawn sketch to a full blueprint. Building plans are in the custody of the Planning and Building Department. Access requires a formal application under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Privacy Protection Act.

Records of City Departments or Boards which manage City facilities

Hillcrest ParkTo research the history of various City projects, programs, and initiatives, researchers commonly refer to Council Minutes, department files, and files of the appropriate City Clerk.

To see the full scope of City Department and committee records, browse through the list of series by the appropriate municipality: Port Arthur, Fort William or Thunder Bay. Series will be subject to Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy legislation.

For example, to study local parks a researcher could examine any number of historical files belonging to the Parks and Recreation Departments, or the Board of Parks Management minutes (Fort William Series 5, Port Arthur Series 48). 

As well as reports, facts, and statistics, files will often also contain recommendations and ideas that convey the intention of City departments regarding projects and operations of historical interest.


File titles and descriptions are listed as they appear in the original records and have not been edited. These file listings may therefore contain variant spellings, inaccuraracies, or terms which are now considered offensive. They have been left in this original format for historical authenticity.