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City Government

Fire Services

Before the amalgamation that created the City of Thunder Bay, Fort William and Port Arthur were separate cities each responsible for the needs of their respective communities. Among the most vital services provided by the cities were their Fire Departments. Though many are familiar with the Fire Department as an essential service, the public often only has a vague understanding of its inner workings.

This exhibit details the histories of the Fire Departments of Fort William and Port Arthur, and encourages an appreciation for this vital service which continues to be provided to the City of Thunder Bay.

1991-01-1 The Early Days: 1900s-1920s: A look at the long-forgotten practices of a young community service 
Firefighters Firefighters: Qualifications, training, and working conditions
Duties and Life at the Fire Stations Duties and Life at the Fire Stations: The working lives of everyday heroes
Fire Chiefs Fire Chiefs: The leaders of the Fire Departments over the years
Fire Stations page Fire Stations: A history of places that have served as base of operations for the Fire Departments
Firefighting Equipment Firefighting Equipment: The technologies and tools needed for service
Fire Prevention Fire Prevention Activities: The cities' dedication to stopping fires before they start
Cooperation Between the Cities Cooperation Between the Cities: A united Lakehead before amalgamation
Significant Fires Significant Fires: A sample of the losses witnessed by the Fire Department
Firemen Lost on Duty Firemen Lost on Duty: Remembering those who gave their lives for a safer community


This exhibit was created using information and graphic material available to the public from the City of Thunder Bay Archives. The exhibit covers the time period from the inception of the two towns' fire brigades in the late nineteenth century to amalgamation in 1970.

Archival series referred to in this exhibit include the following:

  • Port Arthur City Clerk's Files (Series 29)
  • Port Arthur City Clerk's Agreement Files (Series 34)
  • Fort William City Clerk's Files (Series 4)
  • Fort William Agreements (Series 86)
  • Fort William Annual Reports (Series 16)
  • Thunder Bay City Clerk's Photograph Collection (Series 128)
  • Thunder Bay Fire Department Photograph Collection (Series 129)
  • Fire Insurance Maps
  • Port Arthur Scrapbooks

Some personal information has been removed to protect the privacy of individuals.

For more information on this subject, or any other subject of interest, please visit or contact the City of Thunder Bay Archives.